Double bads on the shoulder pads
The last couple of days have been a bit crazy between flying and my father’s surgery. But thankfully everything turned out well. I was able to make it to the hospital in time to see my father before he went into surgery, so that meant the world to me. I am also extremely grateful for all the support and kind words I got from my friends and family.
But it wouldn’t be a Dormer family story without some much needed hijinks. And thank god, because life is serious enough. You have to look for the light side.
- My father was obviously doped up before and after his surgery. He told everyone he encountered he how his daughter had come all the way from Sydney, Australia for him. Which is lovely, but the thing was he said it to EVERYONE he encountered. And as you can imagine the same people kept coming into his room, so he told them multiple times. And then I had to answer multiple times how long the flight was.
- On the second day when I came into the hospital, I was wearing a necklace I recently bought in Australia. Its by a Melbourne artist and looks like pencil shavings. Its hard to explain, but here is a link to what it looks like. My father asked, “What’s that around your neck?” When I explained it was a necklace that looks like pencil shavings, my dad then asked, “Do you need money?”
- I will be the first to tell you I was a little out of it when it came to getting ready for this trip. The stuff I packed, seriously bizarro. The only shoes i brought were my running shoes and flip flops. Not completely ridiculous but when combined with my jeans and my most basic cardigans (because I love me a cardigan) I ended up looking like a soccer mom who had a van full of soccer players in the parking lot and was just looking for another bag of orange slices. It was awesome.
- After letting off some steam with Kelley, I came up with the phrase “double bads on the shoulder pads.” Not sure the context or backstory here, but am sure it will be sweeping the nation soon.
Should you tip your doctor?
For some reason, five hours by plane outside of Sydney, I have been asking myself this question in what I hope is an optimistic mood. I am making a very unscheduled, very last minute trip to San Francisco because my father is going into surgery. Heart surgery to be specific. I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom in Sydney, hungover after a particularly epic tenacious d concert, talking to my parents on FaceTime as they explained what was happening. This was the first time I felt so completely disconnected and remote living in Sydney. The first time in nearly a year. Thankfully I had enough miles and united is such an undesirable airline that I was able to book a last minute flight to sf a lot faster than you would think possible for a person living 14 hours away by plane.
My dad had a triple bypass in 2000 that started with an exploratory hearts surgery to see if there was any blockage. My father is having the same exploratory surgery Wednesday. And while both of my parents told me not to worry and not to come , I couldn’t help but remember the helplessness I felt the last time.
I was 20 and my brother was still in high school, so while my mom was in sf with my dad getting treatment, I stayed with my little brother in pebble beach. My dad didn’t want us to see him in the hospital, so the first time I saw him after the whole ordeal was when my mom drove him home to pebble beach.
I had made an extremely plain, yet heart healthy meal of baked chicken, steamed vegetables and no yolk noodles - all prescribed by the cardiac surgeon. I walked to the kitchen door that opened up to the driveway as my father’s black car pulled up. My mom was driving which was rare, but the doctors took the veins for my father’s bypass from his left arm and he was too weak to drive. The passenger side door cracked open as my mom rushed around to help. I leaned on the door jam of the open kitchen door and watched my father slowly swivel himself so his legs were on the driveway and he was stil seated in the car. He hasn’t shaved in several days, he looked frail and all I could say was “hey Dad.”
His voice broke as he said, “hey Kate.” My father is the only person who calls me Kate. In that moment we were both chocked up. There was a part of each of us that didn’t know if we would see each other again. But in that driveway, on that insulated November afternoon, we were both almost overcome with the truth that we were still together here.
Mortality is something I was aware of younger than most people I grew up with. My grandfather, my father’s dad, died of a heart attack when I was 6 and he was only 56. My papa was it for me, there was no one better. A simple walk or conversations with him was an adventure and would capture my imagination and attention for weeks afterwards. When he died, even at 6 I knew that it meant I wouldn’t see him again. I went to the funeral and I used the handkerchief my nana gave me and I remember going back to my papa’s house after the funeral and knowing it was wrong because he wasn’t there.
Even though I have been pretty honest and raw here, an easy, open expression of emotion (with the exception of anger and laughter) is not your typical fare for us dormers. We don’t like to ask for help, or make a big deal of things. We prefer to go it alone most times. For example, my grandfather had a heart attack five days before he actually went to the hospital. He knew he was ill of course and I think he knew he wasn’t going to make it, so he spent those five days ensuring that all of his affairs were in order before he told anyone he was not well. When he passed away a few days later, my dad went down to my papa’s home office and found everything laid out and in order, there was nothing for anyone to do.
So when I spoke to my parents on Mother’s Day and after they told me it was a routine thing several times and they said, “Dad is going to get fixed and everything will be better after that” - that was when I knew I had to come. I spoke to my brother and he said he was going to go to the hospital to be with mom while dad was in surgery - that was when I knew I had to come. My dad texted me that he loved me with three exclamation points and my mom texted “your father knows he is going to get fixed but he is nervous” - that was when I knew I had to come. Because my dad was being a dormer. And I didn’t want to come later when his office, the same office and desk that was my papa’s, was neatly laid out and his affairs were in order.
So I am set to arrive at 11am on Wednesday. My father goes into surgery at 12:30. I am hopeful I get to see him before, but even if I don’t, I know I will be there. And hopefully when the doctor comes out to tell us that everything went well, that there were no problems, no affairs to get into order, I can ask him the asinine question that has been floating around in my head these past couple of days: should you tip your doctor?
Because if the guy does what he is supposed to do and my dad is okay, I think Don Dormer would totally approve palming the guy a Benjamin.
Emily and I got to see Tenacious D at the Opera House on Saturday, and as would be expected, they were awesome. The audience was about 80% men and at one point, several people were loudly requesting specific songs to be played, and Jack Black answered simply, “No.”
It was seriously the best moment ever.