Before I discuss the stuff that my father will not tell me, I'd like to update you on his condition.
I'm happy to report my father has been home from the hospital for a week and is doing quite well thankfully. To all the many readers who read my several accounts I wrote while my dad spent thirteen days in the hospital, I thank you.
He entered the hospital dehydrated due to diarehhia, with a urinary tract infection, feverish, with a yellowish skin tone I had seen before when, as a volunteer for the Jewish Sacred Society (Chevra Kadisha) I helped to perform taharas (ritual washing) on bodies before burial.
I feared for my father's life when his wife called me to the hospital. Nearly two weeks later, he came out "swinging", as I have decribed him to several friends-reminiscent of his pugilistic youth. In other words, it appears the Aibishter has other plans for my father Avrum ben Haskel.
Additionally, i wish to thank all who prayed on behalf of my father. He has regained much of his strength and has reaccquired control of his bowel movements. Again I apologize to those whom I may offend by this language, but as I said earlier it was the diarrehia and not so much the cancer that bothers my father. I am not suggesting he is going to capitulate. As a matter of fact, I overheard him tell his brother yesterday in a telephone conversation: "Don't worry Hirshy, I'm not ready to die yet.")
If you're looking to measure a man's mettle, witness how it is he copes with physical affliction (God Forbid). It is ultimately a test of the substance and depth of his dignity. I exaggerate not when I say that my father is the paradyme of a man who survived a plethora of indignities (as do other patients too) not only with his dignity intact but admired by the many family members and friends to whom he provided a remarkable example of stubborn courage.
I wish to cite the remarkable, strong and kind nurses and patient care technicians of the oncology unit at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago and thank them, one and all, who tended to my father when he was at his most vulnerable.
(As we prepared my father to leave the hospital, a young woman cancer patient, her head covered by a pretty scarf, walked past us in the hallway. She was leaving the hospital too. Just five steps behind her, carrying several bags and bundles of her daughter's belongings, was her mom whom I had seen on the floor on several occasions about to burst into tears. Whether of joy or tragedy, i'm not sure, but It was a bittersweet instance of absolute devotion a heartbroken mother feels for her daughter. I am very fortunate to have seen this.)
I visit with my father during the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He has come along so well I don't have to tend him much. My father is very independent and fiercely opposed to any assistance now that he is home, and very mobile refusing to use a walker.
We spend much of our time talking and playing gin rummy. He tells his story and I listen doing what Ruchamna King Feuerman advises in her latest book, Everybody's Got A Story in which two of my short stories are published. Ruchama advises that one ask his father and he'll tell you his story. Seems like a simple thing to do.
One problem though ... there are certain things my father won't tell me. He served in the Army during the Second World War. I do know a few things about what my father did during the war, but there remains a "no trespassing zone". Despite my several attempts to coax him into teling me this stuff, he simply will not.
"So Dad I've a few questions to ask you."
"Okay, go ahead. Ask away."
"I wanna know the stuff you won't tell me."
(to be continued ...)