My father was 19 when his father suffered a stroke and died at age 58. I wasn’t born so when I heard he was a good uncle to my father’s niece, it was about the first thing I ever heard from him. That, and he wasn’t a great father to his children. It’s all I know, save his last name. From what I can tell, my father suffered greatly from the loss.
I was 10 when my mother suffered a stroke and died. I remember only fragments and though I can think back on them without much emotion, I feel like the experience left wounds beneath the surface that tend to make themselves felt in the worst kind of ways during those moments no one wants to encounter in life, but everyone will.
My father is 59 now and like clockwork, suffered a stroke.
My father is the kind of man who spends thousands of euros on his wine collection, and still doesn’t have any collection to speak of. He’s the man who suffered excruciating pains because of kidney stones, and afterwards changed his lifestyle not at all. He’s the type who lives the living fuck out of life and might make small adjustments in favor of his health, but doesn’t let it stand between him and his enjoyment.
And most of all, my father is the type who organizes impressive events where dozens of people have a wonderful day and go home smarter, well fed, in better shape and with a trinket they won.
And of course, it had to be one of those days, one of those defining moments, where his –our- arch nemesis felled him.
Let me tell you know that he’s okay. It was a minor stroke and other than some minor inconveniences, he was hardly bothered. It wasn’t surprising that he protested when the medics wanted to take him, the star of the show, to the hospital and keep him under surveillance for three days.
Minor strokes are a warning that trouble is ahead and should be taken seriously. A more serious one is likely to follow and like many potentially fatal traumas, time is of the essence when they occur. Long story short? He’s in the hospital and if there was a place where a doctor would be sitting by his bed staring at him, I’d be tempted to have him put there.
As part of trying to make him comfortable going with the ambulance, I promised to take over from him. I didn’t have the slightest inkling as to how the evening was organized, but I’d figure it out. And lemme tell ya, it was one of the most morbid fucking things I have ever done in my life.
120 people, all friends, family and acquaintances of my father’s (and many of my own) had to be informed and I found myself acting in my father’s name as if he was dead and buried within 15 minutes. I am so very different from my father in so many ways, and suddenly I found myself almost literally treading in his footsteps.
A few people close to me and myself, we pretty much nailed it. The organization was luckily well prepared and it was relatively easy to pick up where my father left off, but still- we nailed it. I called my father later and he accused me of enjoying it too, which was true for the moments where I briefly forgot that I was taking the place of my damn father who was is the damn hospital.
There is no cause for suffering a stroke that can be avoided. It’s all genetic and coincidental, and you won’t see it coming until you lose function in half of your body. Today, both my parents are officially stroke victims. Something I had never considered might affect me, is now right up in my face and it has occurred to me that there’s a slim chance I’ll reach 58 before suffering one personally.
So I think I might pay a visit to the doctor, soonish. If there are some preventive things I can do, I should probably start right about now.
But another (perhaps genetic) thing my father and his children, we remaining three, have in common: We live it up. No matter what happens, we’ll always have life itself in our pockets.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go throw up.