Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dad's Journal

My dad kept a journal. I guess that must be where I get it from. His were "guy journals" and were before the days of blogging, though. Have you seen those 1 year calendars that you can buy at the drug store? They're fake leather and they're about the size of a Reader's Digest. They have one week per page and have just enough space for "the facts." Yesterday my husband and I cleaned the basement while on our 7th Anniversary "stay-cation." Yes, I know...very romantic. After 7 years married and 11 years together, cleaning the basement for our Anniversary extended weekend sounded heavenly. Trust me. Anyway, I ran across several years of my dad's journal. In his journals he detailed the things he ate, how he was feeling, his exercise regimen, movies he watched, alcohol consumption (bz), phones calls, visits with family and friends, etc. All in one tidy, little 3 inch square.

Just by happenstance I chose the 1993 calendar first and began reading through. That was the year I got married for the first time. I was 19 years old and definitely still Daddy's girl. It's fairly evident, too, because my dad's journal has a lot about me in it. We visited a lot and talked on the phone all the time. It made me smile to see that. It also made me recognize the huge hole in my life that is still there. So, there it was:

February 23, 1993 - Cold out. Up at 5:07AM. Did not fly. Helped Tom tow planes around. After lunch washed 580 till 3:00PM. Sat around till 4:30PM. Home around 5:30. Went to S's to fix toilet - she said I looked yellowish *worried. Stool very hard. Taco Bell. Bed at 11:00PM. No Bz. No Exercise. No Run.

And there it was plain as day. The day our lives turned upside down my dad had come to my apartment to fix my toilet. I vividly remember standing behind him in the bathroom. He stood up from the toilet tank and I caught our reflections side-by-side in the mirror. It was absolutely shocking to see. His skin was so yellow it was as if he had used one of those old, cheap self tanners and tried to wash it off. Remember that stuff? Compared to my skin, he looked positively odd. At the time, I didn't even really understand what jaundice was. I just knew that my dad looked weird and yellow. He brushed it off as though maybe he's had some bad food. According to his journal, the next morning at 8AM he made a doctor's appointment.

By March 2, 1993, the doctors had ruled out Hepatitis and a few other things. Here's his entry from that day:

No Work. Dr. Appt today. Up at 9:30AM. Rod's b-day (60) Not much sleep last night. S came over at lunch. Went to Dr. Appt 2:15 - does not look good. Some sort of scarring on most internal organs. TB, cancer? Not sure. Took blood & urine test. Stopped & got Wendy's hamburg (great) Was real tired. Watched TV. Bed at 11:00. Took pills. Slept good tonight. No Bz. Talked to Mom.

I do love that he took the time to describe his Wendy's burger as "Great" in the midst of all of that scary stuff. It made me sad to read through his journal yesterday. It kind of brought it all back. I remember feeling like I might have been semi-responsible because I'm the one who noticed that he was yellow. I've always been pretty observant. Sometimes I wish I didn't notice everything. And I know it's totally stupid to feel responsible for something like that just for noticing. It was a really confusing time. I was getting married at 19, which was not the right thing for me. My dad was sick and he might have cancer. It was a terrifying year. Dad did a good job of downplaying, but again my powers of observation were a little too strong. And my gift for asking lots of questions....well, it got me to the truth. There wasn't much Dad could hide after all. Can't fool me. He needed my help to get to some of his appointments, so I kind of needed to be in the know. This was just the beginning of the roller coaster ride of Dad's illness that lasted 6 years.

I still miss him every single day.


  1. Reading this makes me sad that we weren't friends during this time in your life. We should have been....we were such good friends before and we're good friends now. Makes me sad.

    And I know what you mean about feeling responsible. A year ago (and a few weeks) I asked my sister what was up with that persistent cough she had. It doesn't make sense...but it feels like it does.

    xoxo Love you.

  2. It was a really scary time for me, as you can relate to I'm sure. I'm just really glad we're friends now and I can share these things with you. I think you know my heart more now than you ever did before and vice versa. I wish you didn't understand quite so much how I feel. But I guess that's just life. XO Love you, too.