Under normal circumstances, the title of this post would refer to chocolate, today being Valentine's Day. For the pessimistic amongst us, they view this holiday as a contrivance, something made up so that certain corporations, the greeting card industry amongst them, can increase their profit margin. For the romantics of the world, this is their day to celebrate. For me, it is a day that results in an emotional rollercoaster. On this day, in 1988, my dad died.
In 1984, I was in my junior year at college. I was living off campus at the time, right outside downtown Buffalo. It was a great apartment, though far removed from campus life. It was a Saturday morning in April, and I got an early morning phone call from my mom. Dad had a heart attack. I still remember very vividly slumping to the floor, overcome with emotion. I was working as a paramedic part time while away at school. They say too much knowledge can be a bad thing. In my case, it turned my life at that moment into a horror show.
My first reaction was to hop in my car and run down home, but my dad was not having any of it. He told me, through my mom, that he didn't want me coming. He said he was okay, and didn't want me to lose any time in school. I was extremely conflicted, but acquiesced to his wishes. However about four days later , though he was stable, it was determined that he would need double-bypass cardiac surgery. This time, I was the one not having any of it, and I told my mom I was coming down. "Don't tell him I'm coming if it is going to upset him." I said.
Driving down, as it turns out wasn't an option, so I quickly arranged to fly out of Buffalo into Newark. My brother picked me up, and we went to the hospital the day of the surgery. It went well, and he came out of it with flying colors. During the surgery however, he did need to have a unit of blood transfused. Not unusual for this surgery. Unfortunately, this was 1984, and in 1984, having a blood transfusion was anything but normal.
The signs of it should have been obvious to me. Denial is a powerful tool, and I probably was using it far more unconsciously that I would have cared to admit. It wasn't until a short time before he died that reality came crashing down.
Dad had AIDS. He contracted it in the transfusion. It was six months before the screen had come out. It was now 1988, and he was laying in a hospital bed, on a ventilator after going into cardiac arrest while undergoing a bronchoscopy. They revived his body, but his mind was gone. On February 13th, I kissed him good-bye for the last time. I went home, (I had graduated and was working in Brooklyn at this point.) crawled into bed, and was awakened by my brother the following morning. Dad died around 6 am, Valentine's Day, 1988.
It would forever alter what should be, under normal circumstances, a pretty happy day.
Last year was the worst it had been in a very long time. Twenty years was a bit of a milestone. This year was was better. Mrs. Nighttime and I went to dinner at a great Italian place near our home last night, and tonight we went to an improv comedy show that had a couple of friends performing in it. It was a good way to keep my mind off of it, not that I was forgetting about dad, but trying to counteract the sadness that in the past has overtaken me. Dad loved a good laugh, gave me some of my best jokes, so I think it was a rather appropriate thing to do.
So, the bittersweet feeling may not be from the chocolate that is consumed today, but it does have the same effect. In the end, you accept it for what it is, and try to enjoy the good parts, the parts that satisfy.
spring flowers - I am quite fond of this series of Wildflowers of Canada that came out in 1977 and try to collect as many as I can from my stamp dealer to use for Postcross...
4 days ago