Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Deaths of the fathers

Listening to NPR the other morning about Mandela on his death bed moved me for a moment, because it took me back to the 80s, when I was coming of age, when South Africa and Mandela provided all of us with a point of absolute moral certainty.

And then I come in to work and my boss is talking about her dog, who has been fighting some mysterious illness for months and she and her husband (and kids) are wrestling with the decision of whether or not they should be fighting to keep the dog alive, given the questionable quality of life he might expect if he lives.

And that discussion took me right back to my dad's bedside in April, on that last day, when it became apparent that dad was dying, then, and we had to make decisions very quickly about what level of intervention to make to keep him alive, and I use the term "we" loosely because, of all his immediate kin, I was the only one who was there, then, with doctors swarming around feeding me opinions as to the probability that each given type of intervention might provide him with quality of life going forward. After weeks and months of unenjoyable life as his dementia kicked in and it was apparent to him and others that he had little to look forward to other than the sun rising the next day (which ain't all bad). So I was standing there at work holding back tears listening to my boss talk about her dog.

So the deaths of fathers and authority figures makes it all too clear that we are left occupying those same positions, when inside I feel not dramatically different than I did as a kid.  I suppose I look different, and project differently, but I'm intrinsically not all that different.  And a friend of mine is a leading bulwark against insanity in Raleigh and another guy I went to college with (and who seemed no smarter than your average guy) works closely with Obama every day.  Funny, that.

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