Grandpa isn't doing well, again.
Dad called last night to let me know that grandpa has pneumonia and doesn't seem to be responding well to treatment. Dad was about to leave for Minnesota again to be with him, just in case this was "it."
A decade or so ago, we had another scare with my grandfather. They had run some tests and found that he had cancer. A tumor had already claimed one kidney and had spread into one of his ribs. The doctors were going to remove the organ and bone, hoping to stop the cancer's spread, and things looked dire. My dad called, explained what was going on, and he and I left just a few hours later, driving nonstop to Red Wing in my dad's silver Caddy, alone.
It was a stressful, strange trip, but also neat in a lot of ways. That probably bears some explanation.
My dad and I aren't good with each other. We never really were. Although we share some common interests, and have certainly enjoyed each other's company, we're usually only good for about two or three hours together, before silence starts to set in and we're both left wondering, "Geez, how much longer do I have to talk to this weirdo?" Given that it's a fourteen to sixteen hour drive (sans toddler) to Minnesota, that put us at well over ten hours of awkward, stilted dialog, not counting rest stop breaks or eating.
Some neat things happened during the trip. I got a lot done on my laptop which was nice (and not very unexpected). We got into an argument on gun control that made my dad so angry he couldn't speak in complete sentences for almost one hundred miles. Good times. Some other things happened, though. We went drinking. Well, he drank. I had soda water, but we sat at a bar together, drank, and talked. Then, I got to drive dad home, in his precious Caddy, which was something neither of my sisters can claim to have done. We laughed. I think that trip was the first time he saw me as a man, which was a corny and still very special thing for me. I also think it was one of the first times I saw him as a man, rather than a father. He made fun of what I was reading. I pretended to be interested in all the "Car and Driver" magazines he brought along. Although I can't claim that it was a good trip, I think it was a turning point for us, and our relationship has only gotten stronger since then.
It's funny how sickness and stress can do that. We always see the bad in the bad moments in our lives, but sometimes there is good, as well.
I think my dad wanted me to go with him. I think his telephone call, something he doesn't normally do, was his way of inviting me. Tired from a long weekend, I missed those cues, and I'm sorry I did. It would have been nice to spend more time with both him and my grandpa.
More Father's Day rambling coming soon... your excellent comments have me thinking, so there's certainly more to say....