Untotaled: Stepping 45 (November ?, 1968) Cobalt … December 13, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2442)

(Transcript)

I don’t remember the exact day.

I recall it was cold and November, which is standard fare in Ohio.

My parents had taken a trip to Columbus and my mother returned late that evening, without my father in tow. I didn’t think much about it. I was nearly seventeen years old and preoccupied with the status of my burgeoning sideburns.

She was sullen–my mother, that is. This was not unusual. She was given to fits of extremes, and I was fully aware that when she was in this condition, to stay clear–for everything about me was a potential object for attack.

I hid out in my room, and then heard a knock on my door. It was her.

She came in and sat down with tears in her eyes. She told me that “Daddy” was in Columbus in the hospital, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I never called him “Daddy.”

It was a strange sensation. I knew I was supposed to feel something. i really wanted to, and was aware that she expected me to, so I mustered some emotion.

I told her I wanted to be alone, and she complied.

When the door was closed I turned off the light, laid down on my bed and thought about the man who was my father.

We had never been close.

He was forty-eight years old when I was born so I am sure it was a little awkward for him to have a toddler, and finally a teen, jostling about the house.

He was a stoic man, not free with his feelings, leaving you wondering half the time if he had fondness in your direction whatsoever.

But now he was sick. That makes a difference, you know.

Two days later he returned from the hospital.

We were told he would begin cobalt radiation treatments the next week. He tried to smile and muster a brave profile but I could tell he was terrified, and once the treatments began it was even worse.

At that point in medical research, therapy was more or less an attempt to scorch the cancer, thus literally burning up the flesh around it. Cobalt.

He was red and swollen, but still desperately tried to connect with me to make amends for years of uncomfortable silence.

I was a jerk. I repelled him.

I was a teenager, and it was required of me to have a bit of aversion toward my father figure, but he really needed me to be more forgiving. I did not possess the capacity.

Christmas was sparse that year.

The nutcracker was down.

It was difficult to get our minds on “Joy to the World” when Dad was suffering and dying.

 

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