Technically the seat I am in is the one my father would occupy were he here at my parent’s home, except he is about five miles away in a hospital bed.
So for the moment I am the senior Wilner male in the house and though I ought to be asleep I can’t quite do it yet.
Twenty-four hours from now I’ll be taking a shuttle back to my car and preparing to head back to my home in Texas.
Mom is asleep in the other room or at least when I passed near her bedroom it sounded like she was.
This is not the house I grew up in and though they have been here for about six months I haven’t been by enough for it to really feel like it.
Maybe it is because I recognize the furniture and stuff but not having my father here makes it seem more like a place mom chose to vacation in.
What Do Emojis Mean Anyway?
Dad’s illness hasn’t been a big secret but outside of the blogging and a couple of people I haven’t made any sort of public declaration about it.
It is not because I worried about following a particular set of rules or concerned myself with breaking Emily Post’s heart either.
I didn’t know whether I wanted to put it out there or wanted to just let it be. Didn’t know if making i more public would make me feel better or for worse.
The more I reflected upon it the more it seemed to make sense as a way to potentially help my mother get some more support.
And with my return to Texas coming closer and closer the pressure of another goodbye pressed down upon me.
This will be the third time since the diagnosis that I have flown in and left. Though I don’t expect this to the last time I never know for certain so that goodbye has a certain weight to it.
I was surprised by the lift the comments on Facebook gave me. Surprised by an emoji or two and how they made me smile and think.
Surprised by how I looked at one and wondered what sort of response do you give. Does a heart emoji have more meaning for some people than others?
Does a basic ‘like’ exude gratitude or does it read as being less than grateful.
Were I face-t0-face with some I would know better how to respond or not respond.
I don’t like long goodbyes and if I had enough cash I would change my flight and jump on a plane now.
I would have said my goodbyes to the family and gotten the hell out of dodge ‘cuz I feel this weight upon my shoulders and it feels a bit like I am standing in a bonfire.
Though I might be an expert on dancing in the flames it doesn’t mean I want to.
Thing is there is a part of me that doesn’t want to leave because you never know what can happen and though my car is fast and my foot heavy it is never fast enough.
So I walk alone on the boulevard and think.
Dad would tell me not to worry and just accept that things are going to be whatever and however they are.
“You can’t do anything about it so focus on what you can do.”
He is right, but then again the man who didn’t complain about pain almost ever has told me multiple times that things hurt.
There is nothing wrong with that. He is entitled, but it is different.
A teenage boy with my hands and similar mannerisms laid into me.
That kid came after me with fire and I get it because I know that fire. I told him to slow it down, reel it in and suck it up.
Said that if I had ever spoken to my father that way there would have been hell to pay.
And there would have.
I am not bothered by that. I wasn’t the kid who got hit with the belt or slapped across the face, but I knew more than a few.
This teenager told me long ago that I was exaggerating when I said I remember seeing kids get belted for misbehaving in stores.
I told him I didn’t think it was right then and I wasn’t in favor of it now, but that it absolutely had happened.
Probably had that discussion when this song came out…maybe. Some things blur with time.
I tell the kid to turn this on and he asks why and I just shake my head.
Sometimes I know exactly how to reach him and can raise an eyebrow, tilt my head and know he follows it.
Sometimes I smile, ya know the one where my lip curls just a little and he smiles back at me and I know we are in sync.
And then we hit these places, bumps in the road where I wonder if he sees I want to put my arm through the wall to emphasize my frustration and displeasure.
For the briefest of seconds I think about it, knowing if I hit it I am going to put my arm up to my elbow in that wall and never react.
Nothing good will come from it.
He won’t learn anything and I’ll have to fix whatever I break.
Dad used to tell me you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders. It infuriated me to hear it as I suspect it might have done when my grandfather said it to him.
In the midst of the disagreement with the teen I shared our old Wilner line and saw the same irritation I used to feel flash in his eyes.
Took a deep breath and thought about calling dad to tell him about that moment. Would have said how weird it was to use his words and to know that yesterday I had been standing where my son stood and today had moved to dad’s position.
Solve For X
The teen and I finish spitting blood and fire and resume our regularly scheduled programming.
He asks if I know anything more about grandpa’s timeline.
“Have the doctors said anything more about how long?”
“Depends which doctor you are talking to. Some have said it could be anytime. Some have said it could be year or so. Some didn’t expect him to make it out the ER. He had surgery just after that, two weeks later he is still here.
My father has made a career of fooling doctors. Long story short, I won’t bet against your grandfather but I won’t say we have decades either.”
That teenage boy stares at the wall and I ask if he is trying to solve for x.
He shakes his head at me and I tell him this feels like a hell of a math problem.
“I can’t fix him. I can’t learn all I need to know in the time frame we have and the cancer won’t come fight me.”
“Dad, you know that is ridiculous.”
“Of course it is, but I like it personalizing it because then I know I can win. I could kick its ass. Ridiculous is sometimes how I deal with stupid things in life.
Sometimes the ridiculous thing, the unconventional and goofy are what move the needle. If nothing else it takes the edge off and that is a good thing. If you can’t find a way to laugh you might do nothing but cry.
He nods his head and asks if that means I have hope.
“I do. Got lots of it. Got a heavy dose of fear and sadness too but lots of hope as well.”
He nods his head one more time and I tell him that we fight until there is no fight left.
“It is what we do.”
Later I wonder if I made sense or if maybe I ought to have tried drawing an emoji on a white board. Maybe a big thumbs up and a heart would have been useful.
Maybe less would have been more.
Hell if I know, what do emojis mean anyway.