our father, who art in the cardiac unit
My father has made going to the emergency room in a panic a favourite pasttime of his. It appears he's perpetually suffering from cardiac arrest, and considering his constant state of terror at the thought of waking up in the morning, it's quite surprising to me that he isn't. During one of these sexual encounters (and I'm convinced that's the reason behind it -- looking up the skirts of the CCU nurses, the pervert), he said to me, in his sweetest, most drippingly-emotionally-blackmailing needy-never-leave-me fluttering-eyelashes love-me-love-me-fuck-off voice, "I'm so very alone in the hospital, with only my own thoughts and all the time in the world to think them. It frightens me. It's why I think we all need our friends and family with us so very much."
come hither - back off
My first instinct was to search frantically for the insulin before I slipped into a diabetic coma. Then I stared at him. Then I stared at the half-naked 80-year-old Filipino woman in the bed next to him. Then at the orderly surreptitiously wiping down my father's genitals as she very cunningly slipped the bedpan out from under my father's gown. Then I thought about how easily my father seemed able to contemplate the meaning of his life while urinating in front of his daughter. Then I got back to the stream of people everywhere, and reminded my dad that he was in the middle of a bloody hospital surrounded by hundreds of people in a similar situation to him who would love to chat with him, make nice, form friendships, offer support, and keep him company.
"It's not the same."
Then he sulked.
I rarely saw this man when I was a child. Then I couldn't remember what I had seen of him after my little neurological incident. After that, I really didn't see him at all for approximately 11 years. 3,500 kilometres and brain surgery can do that to people.
I don't know him. Have no idea who he is. What's more, I've never been able to grasp why someone, such as an adopted child, who has never met a biological parent, would want to know a stranger, and therefore don't understand why acquaintances are shocked I couldn't care less about this man. If I had met the guy on the street, in a grocery store or book shoppe, I'd want to scream after only 5 minutes of conversation with him. (In fact, I often do. He thinks it's endearing, which is all the more reason to scream.) I do what I consider decent for any human being, no matter how odourous or pusillanimous or vile they may be, and fetch him slippers from home or sneak in a candy bar, but I feel no great need or desire to be his nursemaid. "Don't you have any sense of familial responsibility?" yodels the monkey gallery, to mix my metaphors. (Or not. I'm rather taken with the image of a yodelling rhesus.) I am responsible to those I am close to, with whom I share a bond, those who matter to me and have had an impact on my life.
I'm not, I don't, he doesn't, and he hasn't.
It annoys me, this shackle of genetic material.
It is the same. We are who we care about as much as anything. The half-naked Filipino woman has as much chance forming a family relationship with my father as I do. There's not much to work with when you're working from scratch. To be horribly cliché about it, you can pick your friends, not your enemas.
Wait, that's not right.
I was born amongst my relatives with a fully-formed, albeit slightly scrambled, brain. I have had the great good fortune of choosing my family rather than being born to them. I am sad that this lonely, needy man, who has never been alone and self-sufficient in his life, is killing himself through his inability to cope with the world. I am, not, however, ashamed for not being his daughter. Guanine does not a family make.
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