Green muck in Johnson Pond, Rochester New York
Green muck in Johnson Pond, Rochester New York

When I said hi to the couple walking toward us in the park yesterday the man wished me a happy Father’s Day. Not the first time and not something that bothers me in any way. It’s just odd considering the odds that any guy would have offspring. This year I was more interested in commemorating Juneteenth than Father’s Day. 

In Maureen Dowd’s column she talked about regretting not telling her father, a former cop, that she was proud of him. I would imagine many people share that feeling. I know I do.

My father’s bone cancer came on so fast it made for some awkward conversations at the end but I’m pretty sure he knew how I felt about him. Although I do replay the scene from his last doctor’s visit, where his doctor, having just reviewed scan results, told my father to go home and get his affairs in order. My father was stunned. Outside the office I tried breaking the silence by saying what was going through my own mind, what I might go to if I was given that news. “Well, it is inevitable,” I said. Needless to say that fell flat.

Of course it is inevitable but he was in the middle of so many projects. He was not done living yet. Back in the car I asked if he had anywhere else he wanted to stop and he suggested the barn on Westfall Road, the one he was trying to convince the town to preserve. I helped him walk out there and I took a photo of him standing in the barn with his sketchpad.

After moving to Irondequoit, he took a liking to an unlikely part of the park, Johnson Pond, at the Camp Eastman entrance. He found Wood Ducks there. I guess they are not so common. He took a photo of turtles sunning themselves on a log on the land and the newspaper used it as one of their daily panoramas. We walked over to Johnson Pond the other morning and found nothing but green muck.

Regrets. I’ve had a few. I am sort of haunted by this one. While picking my dad up for an earlier appointment I stuck my head in my parents’ bedroom and said hi to my mom. I told her we were off to the doctor and we’d be back soon. She said, “I’m so proud of you.” It was one of the last lucid conversations I had with her and I couldn’t just accept the compliment, one that I don’t remember ever hearing her say before. I had to throw it back at her by saying something like you don’t have to thank me. Why couldn’t I just say “Thank you?”

Later she pleaded with me to get something from my doctor that she could take to end her life. “I know you can do it.” Her vascular dementia was turning her waking hours into a nightmare. It is past time for another contribution in memory of Mary to “End of Life Choices New York”, 120 East 23rd St., 5th Floor, NY, NY 10010.

1 Comment

One Reply to “Regrets”

  1. My father had a stroke and was unable to communicate. He lasted ten days and I was unable to have a last conversation that was two way. He blinked to answer life and death decisions. We can’t go back but I have little conversations with him now and then. But they are still one way. Thank you for this.

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