Dad

My father quit school in the eighth grade rather than let a teacher whip him for fighting. The next day he left Route 4, Bogue Chitto, Mississippi for Galveston, Texas, where he took a job as an apprentice roofer. Next came the Merchant Marines where he volunteered for hazardous duty (it paid better), and had two ships shot out from under him by German U-Boats. The entire load on one ship was Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and Dad never got over seeing men die for beer.

Dad was a transsexual before he knew there was a word for it or that anyone else felt as he did. I only learned that he wore a bra and panties under his striped overalls when he fell off a ladder (he and I remodeled homes and businesses), and knocked himself out. Soon after that, he told me that he learned about there being a name for his condition from Life Magazine during the 1960s. He would have been in his mid-fifties at the time. Even when he was in his seventies, he said he wished he had money for a sex change operation. About the time he hit eighty, he got religion and didn’t talk about his gender problem anymore. Instead, he moved on to telling Peggy and me about his nightly conversations with God. Mostly what God had in mind for my father was to arrange for him to win the Publishers’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. As I watched my father waste thousands of dollars buying magazines for those sweepstakes, I developed an intense hatred for Ed McMahon and the deceptive mail that came in his name.

Dad would cuss people out over minor things, and he even “enjoyed” getting into fistfights when another man showed an interest, yet he was too shy to order a meal or ask a clerk a question. I knew that something was “wrong with him” (that was how I expressed it to myself) from the time I was a small child. I could see it in the fear that other people showed when they were around him. Yet, he never beat me—or even touched me—and he never beat my mother or sister either. We were all still afraid of him though. When he told me about his transexualism, I wondered how much of his behavior was an attempt to compensate for the manhood that he lacked. He even married several times—five, I think it was.

He died in 1994 after spending his last two years with Peggy and me. I got over his death without a tear. Unlike the 18 months I spent having anguished dreams after my mother died, I never had a bad dream about my father. He appeared in my dreams for years after his death, but he was always old and feeble, and just kind of hanging out in the background, which was pretty much how he spent his last two years. He died here in this house, and that was good because—through hospice—Peggy and I were able to obtain a bottle of liquid morphine so we could do whatever it took to control his pain without having to worry about whether we were giving him a fatal dose the way they would if he had died in a hospital. The last thing my father ever asked me to do was to keep him out of pain even if it meant, as he put it, “easing me out.” I told him I would.

The manner of his death was this. He needed pills to keep his congestive heart failure in check, only he thought that “living out of a pill bottle” was beneath his dignity, so he repeatedly stopped taking them over his last few years. Each time, he would become so bloated and short of breath that he would always go back after a week or so. These continual flirtations with death were a very hard thing for me to witness, and they also put me into a moral dilemma once I discovered that I could sneak the pills into his food. I thought a lot about whether I had the right to do that, and I finally decided that I didn’t. I figured that if he was rational, he had the right to end his own life, but if he was irrational, his life wasn’t worth preserving. I never could make up my mind for sure which it was because my father had always seemed insane. He finally stayed off his pills long enough that he died. He took to his bed on a Sunday and died that Tuesday without me ever having to change a diaper. For that, I was grateful. Either your parents die more or less cleanly, or they deteriorate enough to become a horrendous burden to themselves and to you—and then they die—so it’s not all bad when they die sooner rather than later.

46 comments:

ellen abbott said...

my dad had a massive stroke that killed him because he stopped taking his blood pressure medicine. He didn't like the way it made him feel. my mother died a slow deteriorating death from TIAs though she was on her medication. when she finally couldn't swallow, we decided not to have a tube put in her stomach. she wouldn't have wanted it. she'd been ready to die for some time. Most recently, almost a year ago, my brother-in-law died from metastasized lung cancer. We knew he wasn't well but no insurance so no diagnosis. when he finally crashed and we took him to the emergency room they gave him 3 weeks. he spent 10 days in the hospital while they did tests (but they diagnosed him that first day so we still don't understand why they kept him so long unless it was just to pad the bill which my sister can't afford to pay, they kept saying they needed the results for a confirmed diagnosis). he died three days after we brought him home. As sudden and shocking as it was we are glad we didn't know and that it was so swift though his decline in the last months would have been more comfortable for him if he had been under care earlier. caring for a dying person is emotionally and physically draining and my sister still had to work. the good thing about a fatal diagnosis was that they would give him as much morphine as he needed.

Snowbrush said...

Ellen, woe be unto those who can't tolerate narcotics. I'm glad your brother-in-law could. My doctor told me that a terminal or pain-wracked patient occasionally asks him what would happen if they drank their whole bottle of liquid morphine. He tells them that they would die, and he said that it's not unusual that they drink it. It's a person's right to choose to die, and I would even offer that it's a person's right to be euthanized.

Beau's Mom said...

Dr. Kevorkian was one of the most maligned individuals of our time. Which is precisely why I made sure I have an extra bottle of xanax on hand.

It took a long time to get a promise from my god fearing sister that she would sneak the bottle in to me if I'm ever under the terminal "care" of a hospital.

Right now we're living in an area that does not accept my health insurance. Ahhh, America.

Snowbrush said...

Beau's Mom said: Dr. Kevorkian was one of the most maligned individuals of our time.

He did finally promise to be a good boy and stop helping people, but if not for him, I don't know if states like Oregon would have an assisted suicide law even today. Bummer about your health insurance... I wouldn't count too much upon my sister if I were you since promises made under duress might just as easily be forgotten under a different form of duress whether from an imagined deity or the potentially realistic fear of being busted. In the latter regard, there is probably no state nuttier than Florida. On the one hand, allowing children to die of neglect is no big problem, but allowing a brain-dead woman to die is a major problem even if the legislature has to be called into session. It's an utterly schizoid environment--at least it doesn't snow though. Like you, I would have probably chosen it over Ohio.

Ed Pilolla said...

your dad sounds like a fascinating man brought to life by a very well written piece.
liked you comment at helen's and had to drop in.

kylie said...

my mum had breast cancer a few years back, she is healthy now but it was close enough for me to understand that i am still cared for and she still the carer and somehow at some point i am going to have to reverse that.
i dont like that idea and what is scay about it is that i am 40 and others make that transition way way way younger.

right now i am watching a friend care for her 99 year old mother who is making a very long and arduous recovery from a bowel cancer operation. it had to be done or her death would be a horrible horrible thing but the recovery is so fraught and my friend is no longer a young woman herself and her retirement years are being eaten away cruelly. she loves her mother and is gracious about it but she might have approached things differently if she had known she would spend twenty years caring for her!

Snowbrush said...

Ed, thank you very much. I am touched by your kind words.

Kylie, it's called rising to the occasion, and people succeed in varying degrees and in varying ways. For instance, it was a major deal to me that I never had to change diapers on my father because I don't know if I could have risen to THAT occasion at that time. Peggy could have, thank goodness.

When my mother lay dying, my younger sister felt that she simply had to leave the room as the moment grew near. I couldn't begin to understand that because for me it was a precious gift to watch my mother--and later my father--die.

My dear friend Kylie, the world is simply running over with people who are scared of the day they're parents quit being their parents--whether they are dead or not. I used to be one of them. You will get through it.

Snowbrush said...

Kylie, after I wrote, I remembered the fascinating account in which Robert E Howard committed suicide when his mother died. In fact, he got a headstart on her. Once he was told that she was in a coma and wouldn't be coming out of it, he got into his car and shot himself in the head (this was in. If you should ever want to read anything by him (assuming you haven't, of course, since he's usually favored by males), I would recommend his Western stories. They have a dark side to them that simply blows me away. There's also a movie about his life (entitled The Whole Wide World) that's worth watching. I've also read a biography or two about him, yet I never got more than half way through even one of his Conan stories. I thought they were just that bad.

Strayer said...

I think my father died right after a back surgery. I was told later.

I don't know where they buried him, if they did. My mother died a year before, of I don't know what. Real painful. My brothers told me she was in trouble, to come down. My back was a mess, and I was about to have surgery, could barely walk, was told they'd have a place I could sleep, so I went down.

It was a mess. No one was at my brother's house and I couldn't find them until finally someone stopped up at the house, said they were all down having lunch, told me where. Then my brother yelled at me during lunch and I stood up to him, then finally went out to my car, and when he came to my window, I told him I didn't come down to take more abuse. Anyhow, really got bad and they would not even tell me where my mother was at, so I knew the general vicinity of the adult care home and went knocking on doors there til I found it, said my goodbyes to her, and drove four hours back to Corvallis, sobbing the whole way pretty much. Ugly thing, family. I didn't go to her funeral, not after the way my brothers treated me. I said my goodbyes privately.

But as for my father's death, I had a little celebration party when he passed.

kylie said...

haha snow you are clearly unaware of my status as one of blogdoms worst read people!
i always feel a need to defend that, too....see i was a reader once and then my husband didnt like me reading so i gave it up. i eventually learned to do what i want but i never got back to books in a very big way.

having said all of that i might even look up a book of Howard's or maybe the movie.....

as to my parent's deaths, well i probably will rise to the occasion. i have sat with pets as they pass (not the same but practice) and i once had a friend who was dying slowly of a brain tumour. it was awful and my husband could not continue to visit whereas i couldnt abandon him, so yeah, i think i woud rather be there if i can

The Elephant's Child said...

Lovely piece as always Snowbrush. My father's funeral was four weeks to the day after we found out he had cancer. It gave us time to say goodbye, and time for him to tell us he wanted a mostly Jewish funeral. It still took too long though - every time he woke in the last week he would say 'oh god, am I still here?' A relief for him and a relief for us when he was able to let go - I think he was waiting for my eldest brother to arrive.

Beau's Mom said...

I never want to live so long that my death is a "blessing" and a relief to myself as well as others.

Elisabeth said...

What a devastating story, Snow, and told so tenderly. I'm so glad I got back over here. Your father sounds like such an amazing man to have survived against such difficulties and you his son are amazing for bearing witness to that experience.

We can never undo the damage done, but we can at least try to make some sense of it through our writing and also share some of that confusion and sense with others through our writing.

I can only imagine what life was like with such a troubled man. You introduce a new dimension from the perspective of a son.

If i were you I'd keep on writing. Write even more deeply into those memories. They are rich and powerful.

Thanks, Snow

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

My own mother is 89 and I keep noticing little changes in her. While she is strong and healthy now (shopping for a new lawnmower because my 69 year old brother in law has stopped cutting her grass...), I fear I will have to face this all too soon!

C Woods said...

Your father may have been insane, but you certainly made him sound interesting.

After my mother died at age 95, we found hundreds of pills hidden in places we would have never looked. She suffered from dementia and could barely take care of herself (we had in-home care for when we couldn't be there) yet she knew that since she would not be entertaining anytime soon, she could hide pills in the gravy boat at the back of the china closet. They were in the organ bench under old sheet music ---no one played the organ anymore ---and under the paper that lined drawers that held linens. I don't know if that implied a death wish or what. Her pills were for high blood pressure, cholesterol and dementia ---so skipping them wasn't going to cause a sudden death, but maybe over time it hastened her demise.

I often wondered what I would do once she became totally helpless. Luckily I never had to make that decision.

And then, I often wonder what will happen to me as I get older. Already I notice that I am slower at recalling things ---most noticeable when watching Jeopardy. I never knew all the answers, but those I did, I could answer immediately. Now I am often still thinking once an answer is revealed, even for things I know.

We have no children to take care of our affairs once we are too ill or demented to take care of them ourselves. It's scary to think what will happen once one of us is gone.

Zuzana said...

Luckily, I have had a very harmonious childhood, being blessed with kind and caring parents. We became immigrants when I was a teenager and that made for a very close knit family, a fact that remained until today. Both of my parents are still alive and unfortunately living in an another part of Europe, thus as time passes, I wish to spend more time with them as I know they are getting older and more fragile.
It is almost unimaginable for me to have had that kind of relation as you have had with your father. Your post is very touching and have a certain of kind of "matter of a fact" sadness over it, that is very palpable.

On another note, my cat has adapted well to the outside. He loves going out but only sometimes. He doesn't crave it or need it and he always stays in the immediate vicinity of the house, preferably when I am out there with him.;)
And of course you are very welcome to use that image, I am faltered!;) Glad Sammy can brighten your computer.;)))
Have a lovely week,
xoxo

Snowbrush said...

Strayer, your life story is ever fascinating. I think about you often and wonder how your've survived. I'll make no bones about it; I don't know if I would be here if I didn't have at least one person who I could truly trust and depend upon, that one person being Peggy. I know you suffer a great deal in almost every aspect of your life, and you do it alone. My hats off to you for your toughness. I know you don't always feel tough, yet you somehow keep going, and that's an inspiration to me.

Kylie said: i have sat with pets as they pass (not the same but practice)

I have grieved far longer for pets than for my parents. I think this is because pets are like children; because my feelings for them are less conflicted; and because they are ever present in my life.

Kylie said: my husband could not continue to visit

This would scare me because I would wonder if he wouldn't do the same if I were the one who was dying.

Child, I guess your father wasn't a man to go to the doctor since his cancer was that advanced before they even caught it. Wow.

Beau's Mom said: I never want to live so long that my death is a "blessing" and a relief to myself as well as others.

I wish to goodness we had, not just a suicide law, but a euthanasia law because a person now has to either kill herself while she's still able, or risk waiting and, perhaps, getting in such bad shape that she can no longer do it.

Elisabeth said: If i were you I'd keep on writing.

I've been at it for decades now, so I don't anticipate stopping. Your writing has appreciable literary quality, so I wonder if you ever think of doing something with it alongside blogging.

Creekhiker said: My own mother is 89 and I keep noticing little changes in her. While she is strong and healthy now

At that age, they can go downhill so fast. Of course, on the plus side, maybe you inherited some good genes.

C Woods said: We have no children to take care of our affairs once we are too ill or demented to take care of them ourselves. It's scary to think what will happen once one of us is gone.

Aint that the truth! Peggy and I are in the same boat. Of course, there are those whose children prove a liability in their old age rather than an asset. Before I took my father in, my younger sister was making plans to ship him off to a nursing home in the middle of Louisiana (she and he both lived in Mississippi). Given my father's ever precarious mental state, I've no doubt but what he would have been miserable and died quickly. As it was, he told Peggy and me that living with us was the best time of his life.

Zuzana said: Your post is very touching and have a certain of kind of "matter of a fact" sadness over it, that is very palpable.

Oh, thank you! I try to write about sadness in a matter of fact manner--as if I were a reporter--because otherwise, my writing wouldn't just be boring, it would be an exercise in wallowing in misery, which I'm not doing. Writing is a way to deal with misery, not stay stuck in it. Of course, some things--like chronic pain--affect me every minute of the day, so I'm forever having to deal with them all over again without ever being able to transcend them.

Teri C said...

Wow, that is quite a fascinating story of your Dad. I'm not sure I would have the guts to even tell it.
My Mom died of Alzheimers and that is such a horrendous way to go out,especially for someone so vital and caring in her lifetime. I guess we all have our crosses but we have our good memories also.

kj said...

what a back story, snow. your father sounds like a mean man, perhaps because he was not of sound mind or soft heart. maybe because i currently work with little kids, i shudder thinking of children afraid of a parent.
it creates trauma.

your writing skills are so well honed and obvious here.

my story is different. my father was a good man and he died at home with hospice angels helping him and us as he shut down. i became less afraid of dying from watching him.

and my Mother. she is now 95 and when the time comes i pray she will die in her sleep. she is the most gracious and appreciative person. i also know she would not fare so well if ill or impaired. i have been lucky. i must finally be able to block out the five months she lived with us and we were all on walkers, canes, crutches. i know how the stress and exhaustion can be unbearable.

to state the obvious: i don't think of transgender people as automatically unstable, so i imagine your father had his own childhood stories.

thanks snow. this is a great read and your friends and comments here are also great.

love
kj

Snowbrush said...

KJ said: your father sounds like a mean man

I told him as much once after he moved in with Peggy and me. To my surprise, it seemed to hurt him, and in his defense, he mentioned having provided Christmas gifts for a single orphan on a single year before I was born. I was speechless.

KJ said: i became less afraid of dying from watching him.

Watching people die never made me less afraid. The only thing that helped me was the day--after one of my surgeries--when I was given so much morphine that my breathing slowed, and I really wanted nothing more than to stop breathing at all. At the time, it seemed to me that it would be the most liberating thing in the world to give up my need to be forever drawing air into and out of my lungs (the nurse had other thoughts). This showed me--from the inside--that death at least could be easier than I've often witnessed it to be.

KJ said: i don't think of transgender people as automatically unstable

I have no strong opinion, and will bow to your presumably greater experience. But even if they should be "automatically" unstable, it could be due to the way they're treated rather than the problem itself. I should think it would be extremely isolating.

Kerry said...

Your dad: what a guy, living in an in-between world for all that time. And how good of you&Peggy to take him on for 2 years at the end.

Should the country swing right politically, which seems likely, I wonder if Oregon's right-to-die laws will again come under attack?

Myrna R. said...

My experience in caring for mother and mother-in-law, who are now in a nursing home, has changed my views on death and its mercy.

Your experiences with your father seem to have influenced your attitude toward your own life and death. I guess our parents, good or bad, leave indelible marks on us, though sometimes they may seem invisible.

Rob-bear said...

A fascinating, yet sad, story you tell of your father. So very well told.

Both of my parents died in their mid 90s. Both went to sleep and didn't wake up. Though they were in a care home, and taking medications, for some problems they faced.

Gene Pool Diva said...

No easy answers. Sometimes all you can do is be present.
Your dad sounds like quite the character. I look forward to your stories.

Robin said...

Snow, I was a pampered only child...much adored by both parents. (Don't why I was the only child...I was never told.) My Mum, some twenty years younger than my Father died first - at 49from cancer (which was mis-diagnosed as *tennis elbow*).
I was 19....and as shocking as it was to me, my Dad was there to make all the arrangements and comfort me. Her doctor told us she had another year to live - and we were making plans for her to come home and begin chemo - when we received a 3:00 a.m. call saying she died. My Dad, died at 80, from congestive heart failure....the last two years of hi slife, he lived with me and my boyfriend (not my Ex)... I guess I was *lucky*...only his last year did he begin to fail health-wise...
For me, it was so difficult to realise that he shouldn't be driving any more...and for me to gather up courage to tell him this was hard....but I did it. His decline was rapid and he spent his last six months in hospital... I was working, but lived almost 100% after work and on weekends at the hospital. I adored my Father...he was the man who taught me to read before I was 5....a gift I will have until I die...he was always there for me....yet, that last six months was so hard...I often felt irritated that I had to go every night to hospital and sit with him..once, I went home at midnight....only to have the hospital ring me back, saying they "thought" he was dying and I should come back. I did.....and sat there for hours, watching my Father's chest move up and down..he had been in a coma for 8 days... he didn't die that day...and I returned to work. A few day later, at work, I received another call....he was *going*....I jumped in my car, drove like a maniac....yet, he died 10 minutes before I arrived. I was so guilty because I was not there...

I have experienced unexpected death and prolonged death...they both are cruel and draining....yet, I think prolonged is the worst....one is there for days, months, even years, hoping for the best....yet, realising death is imminent....still, when it comes, it hurts so much....because the ones who gave you life, nurtured you, are gone.

It does help if you have family to comfort you... trust me, when you are alone...it's entirely another thing...

I understand your feelings....we are human...and watching a loved one die slowly is hell.

Wow...I have written far too much...but obviously, you have touched a nerve here.... but it's something we both share....and I am glad you have written with courage and honesty....as is your wont. Happy we have met and are friends.

Hugs to you and ALL the family,

♥ Robin ♥

The Blog Fodder said...

Hi, Snowbrush. Catching up on my reading. Quite a story about quite a man. We (and maybe our parents too) were blessed in a way. Our folks have been gone almost 10 years now. Both 80, Mom of a heart attack and dad six months later in a single vehicle rollover on new construction. Both gone in an instant. No suffering.

My late wife's mom is still going strong at almost 92. She looked after Dad until his Alzheimer's got so bad she couldn't. He went into a home in 2000 and died in 2006.

Going to sleep and never waking up is a good way to go. Being dead doesn't worry me too much but the dying part does. I don't want to be a vegetable or worse, simply incapacitated.

KleinsteMotte said...

WOW! You are so straight to the point. But you write about two very separate issues in one post.
The transgender issue must have been a frustrating one for both of you. Your acceptance is what makes it so touching. We are all given many challenges. How we handle them makes a huge difference. I like that you went along with him even if fear was an issue.
Letting a very ill person go in my opinion should be standard procedure if the person has opted for it. We all have to die. Is it important to wait for the last breath when it can be induced? We use medicine for many reasons and this ought to be at the top of the list. I can't believe that we keep severely ill elderly people going when they really wish to go.
I have watched suffering first hand. I hope that I have the option to spare my loved ones that hardship. I opt for the extra med when the time comes. No heroics are in my will!
Canada does not have that option at this time.

Rob-bear said...

Actually, KleinsteMotte, Canada does have that option. It's all in how you use it.

Snowbrush said...

Bear and Diva, thank you.

Kerry said: Should the country swing right politically, which seems likely, I wonder if Oregon's right-to-die laws will again come under attack?

We have one political party that's weak and another that's evil. I've lost even a shred of optimism regarding this country as it slides toward insolvency and fascism without even a hint that our elected officials might get it together to do anything but bicker as we slide beneath the waves. I'm beyond even laughing at jokes about them.

Myrna said: Your experiences with your father seem to have influenced your attitude toward your own life and death.

I don't know if I would feel differently if they had died at another time or place, although most people do say that their own death seems more real after their parents die.

Robin said: It does help if you have family to comfort you... trust me, when you are alone...it's entirely another thing...

I've never been alone. I don't know how people manage it. The older I get, the less likely it seems to me that I could.

Blog Fodder said: I don't want to be a vegetable or worse, simply incapacitated.

We show our age simply by thinking of such things, although many people who are far younger than we are do too.

Bear and KleinsteMotte, I live in Oregon, which is one of only two U.S. states that have physician assisted suicide--the other being Washington.

PhilipH said...

Hi Snowy.
Great posting and some superb comments. Your well formed tale of your eccentric Dad and his death has boldy brushed aside these tabboo topics and I find this quite exhilarating. Odd, you may think, but true. Speaking and writing in such a brutally frank way is what makes your postings so alive and interesting.
Both my parents are dead. Mum at age 58 and Dad 72. They both had hard lives as did my four brothers and I. I being the eldest (1935) have many bad memories during the 1940s and life only became meaningful in 1951 when I found and loved my first girlfriend, Stella, (she is also dead). I grieved more for Stella than either of my parents. I greived even more when my brother Geoff died a couple of years ago (of C of the kidneys) - but was thankful that he took only a couple of months to shuffle of this mortal coil.
I am 100% with you regarding our RIGHT to die as and when WE choose. I think we are treated, in the UK, far worse than animals by not having legal euthanasia. It is monstrous that those who wish to die have to go to Switzerland in order to give up a life of pain and hopelessness.
Well said Snowbrush. Congratulations.
PS Went to stay with my youngest daughter Clare last week. She is doing so very well and it makes our hearts so glad and full of pride for her bravery and stout-heartedness.

Snowbrush said...

Phillip said: I think we are treated, in the UK, far worse than animals by not having legal euthanasia.

Having to be able to make it to Switzerland to die means that people have to die sooner than if they could wait to be euthanized until they were unable to travel. I blame religion for being the primary opponent of euthanasia in the U.S., but I don't know if the same is true in the UK. What do you think?

PhilipH said...

Absolutely agree. Religion has a lot to answer for in so many areas of life. It's quite frightening to think how often *God* is quoted in so many serious things in this world: wars (God always on our side, how bloody stupid is THAT). Which god? There are scores to choose from! I could go on, but not much point really. I have no belief in ANY god but those that do believe have every right - as long as they don't try to brainwash me with such nonsense.

Phoenix said...

It's ironic that those who fear death more than most are those who are, indeed, the most religious. We go to church and are taught that life is eternal, that God has a plan, etc etc etc (not all of which I believe, mind you) and yet.. it is the religious politicians who insist that Life is Sacred, that people do not have the right to end their own lives if they are in pain, that they do not have the right to terminate the years-long comas of loved ones in order to move on and find peace. Yet these same religious politicians who deem Life to be Sacred are also usually the ones against affordable healthcare, and fine with executing criminals. So sad, so hypocritical.

I already know that when my mother passes away it will be hard to deal with gracefully. She is one of my best friends and as long as I can remember, it's always been me and her against the world.

My father, once an abusive, angry, frenetic man, is now old,lonely, and sad. I think his death will be better dealt with by me because I believe, somewhat religiously, definitely foolishly, that when and where he goes, he might get another chance to become the man he always wanted to be - kind, and gentle, and good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Some folks live with troubles their world was not ready to acknowledge. Transsexualism is just beginning to be understood and looked upon with some empathy rather than disgust. Who knows how much such a thing can change a person's outlook.

Vagabonde said...

What a story. Getting old is hard. I don’t know what killed my father – nobody knows. He was supposed to visit me in the US with my mother – their first time. But they had been in a major car accident several months before and the doctor said he should stay home to recuperate. My mother came for a month and my father died the day before she returned home to France. He could have died from something from the accident I guess, but my mother did not want an autopsy.

kj said...

thinking of you snow so hello from me.

the thing is about transgender folks: they are not necessarily alone at all. most people one way or another are part of a community. i imagine it's no easier and no harder than being black or gay or a little person. being different insists on extra strength and thick skin


kj

Natalie said...

You just get to me. Your writing was soulful and I loved it. I hope your dad has found some peace, and I hope you do too.xx

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Wow. Such vivid writing. Thanks so much for sharing this vision of your Dad.

nollyposh said...

Thankyou Snow for sharing this... Funny when i have my mind on such things too... What happens to me though is... i start feeling ill and then i worry about all the things i have to get sorted before i die... By this time i am really suffering and then i worry about dying in hospital... and as i haven't decided upon such things yet, i get all the more sick and worried... Just like i did the other day... Could hardly breathe and there i was Bpaying a bill because i couldn't be certain how long my stay would be in hospital and as i am the primary bill payer i thought i'd better quickly organize such things... Silly hey because then i was really, really sick thinking about how such things really don't matter anyway! Lol!... We really are such silly creatures sometimes... Silly and wonderful and crazy and confused and as complex as we are simple... Either way we are what we are... Humans turning ourselves inside out trying to catch a glimpse of the invisible... Or is that just silly old me? i would like someone to make the 'pain promise' to me, i am sure it gave your dad great comfort x

Snowbrush said...

Philip, you're lucky to live in a less religious part of the world. In much of the U.S., people who you've just met will ask you what church you attend because religion is assumed. To say to such people that you are an atheist goes over about as well as saying that you're a gay pedophile who also likes to masturbate in public and torture your neighbors' pets.

Phoenix said: I already know that when my mother passes away it will be hard to deal with gracefully.

I had the same feelings, and I wasn't nearly as close to my mother as you are to yours. Still, we were close enough that I enjoyed calling her and writing to her about what was going on in my life. When she died, I was forever saying to myself--about one thing or another--that I wanted to share it with her. Then I would remember that she was dead. But the dreams were the hardest thing to deal with. In them, she and I were always happy together, and then I would remember that she was dead, and when I had this thought, she would look at me with great sadness and proceed to fade away until she was completely gone. I would invariably wake up crying. For months, I couldn't imagine feeling a moment of joy ever again.

Phoenix said: My father, once an abusive, angry, frenetic man, is now old,lonely, and sad.

Abusive and angry describes my own father, but he wasn't sad when he was old because he had Peggy and me, but he also had god to come to him each night and speak to him.

Charles said: Transsexualism is just beginning to be understood and looked upon with some empathy rather than disgust.

I feel pity and compassion, but I also feel some disgust. I don't want the disgust, but it's there. I sometimes wonder how my attitude would be different if I hadn't had such a father.

Vagabonde, I'm sorry about your father and your inability to know what killed him. Would you have asked for an autopsy?

To Kid and Natalie, thank you.

KJ said: being different insists on extra strength and thick skin

It's best if one can conclude that he had rather be hated for what he is than loved for what he is not. I try to hold onto that thought in my own life.

Oh, my dear Nollyposh, I don't know why it is given all our differences, but the thought of you dying is extremely upsetting to me. I've lost Renee, who I cared a lot for; and I've lost Barry, who I regret not having gotten close to; and I've lost Twinkle who, like terminally ill Renee, showed great compassion for my pain, although she had the most painful condition that I know of (CRPS). Now, you are very ill, and if you die, a part of me will die too. On the other hand, knowing that you have gone ahead of me will surely make my own transition easier. It never occurred to me when I started blogging that I would shed so many tears for people whom I've never even met, many of them people like yourself who live on the other side of the world. I rather doubt that you know how much you mean to me. There are those who are like anchors in my life, and you are one of them. I feel safer simply by knowing that you are alive.

Beau's Mom said...

Okay. You're starting to worry me. Looking forward to a post again that I can chew on. Your absence shows how many people are tuned into you.

Just_because_today said...

I wonder if he was transvestial rather than transgender. In any event, the sexual orientation does not change the core of a person; your dad was a good man regardless of what he would have liked to be.
Illness that deteriorate take away the joy of being alive, yet
we remain fighting to remain.
Enjoyable post as always

Wine in Thyme said...

I have always been fascinated by transgenders and have read a lot about them. Your piece was very well-written and especially interesting because it was 1-quite personal for you and 2-about a normal (not in the public image) person trying to live a life. Thank yo for sharing.

All Consuming said...

I really didn't expect that.Of course there's no reason I would do. Freedom of sexuality, to be 'who' you are is not even now always socially accepted and causes much misery. Who knows what he might have been like had he been able to have that sex change.I know I'd rather you were here though.
It's so sad reading about people's experiences of death. But I don't avoid it. You did all you could to help him and I'm glad you didn't cry and mourn a lifetime of regrets at what your relationship wasn't. You're such a good man Snow. xx

Mad Mind said...

I think that sometimes when someone of that generation has those kind of demons there is no outlet for them. My grandmother was racist but she wasn't vocal about it. I knew this at age 5. It doesn't surprise me that you picked up on something unspoken.

That corgi :) said...

oh my gosh, I can so relate to your last statement. I thank God (yes I do believe) that my mom had a productive life up until the last six weeks of her life and she died peacefully, something I had prayed for, for a long time. I think my sister-in-law's mom's death was the "best", she had a massive stroke after a church service (no it was not the church service that caused the stroke, she was 83 years old) and two days later when family were all there, they said goodbye and took her off life support. My husband's parents are slowly slowly slowly slowly slowly slowly dying, you get the drift. I don't want to go like that. I have no fear of death, I know where I'm going, I'm not going to prolong it in any way by pills etc.

I commend your dad's courage to take a stance like this on how he wanted to "govern" his final days.

betty