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  • Writer's pictureMad Black Dad

My Mortal Dad

More and more, I am faced with my father’s mortality. I never considered him Superman or ever thought he was incapable of becoming ill or weak. But in two very specific situations, I was faced with the reality that he will not be here forever. There was even once that I thought he died… that changed me, he’s still here but that day a part of me left.

This was about 4-5 years ago. It was thanksgiving, he allegedly opted out of thanksgiving dinner with his wife.

Twice now, I’ve been forced to confront my father’s mortality. At no point did I consider him invincible, but I did to an extent, take for granted his physical presence on this earth. I just assumed that he would grow to see Dom and Dionne grow up. He’s alive now and I am thankful, but multiple health concerns in the past few years have made me fully aware of the possibilities.

A few years ago, my dad ghosted us, his kids, his wife at the time (he since remarried), his siblings, everybody. It was a shitstorm of a thanksgiving week and weekend. His wife called me to check if I spoke to him. I hadn’t but now my antennae are up because why are you calling to ask me? I call my sister and my aunt and uncles. Radio silence from my dad, nobody heard from him. His wife called me back but now she’s talking about my dad having cancer he’s gone off to die…

I folded.

But who wouldn’t? I learned that my dad has cancer and he’s also nowhere to be found. We are calling nearby hospitals, she called the police, it was insane. A couple days later, I received a cryptic text from him saying he’s okay. I called but he didn’t answer, for the next day or so he’d send the same text but never to the same family member. He finally pops up stating that he went to get “tools” for his mental health. He said it so casually like he ran to Home Depot and took longer than expected. To this day, I still don’t have full details about what actually happened. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him for those days. It isn’t because he refused to tell me about his possible mental breakdown, but because his inability or unwillingness to communicate it with somebody sent his entire family into a frenzy. Also, if you are diagnosed with cancer, it is probably best to share that with your immediate family at some point, so they can check with their doctor when it’s time. I’ll officially be checking for prostate cancer as I get older.

He’s in remission now, and almost everyone forgot about what he did and where he allegedly went. I still think about it from time to time. His 2nd situation was a stroke. He called it a “mild” stroke but a stroke is a stroke if you ask me. I missed his call and didn't think anything of it until my sister called me the next day. I quickly called him to check on him. As soon as he answered, I knew this wasn't a stunt. His voice was faint and weak. I didn’t cry, maybe because of old tears shed, or maybe I knew he’d recover, but I did feel fear. A palpable fear that felt like an aura surrounding me. It has been about a month now and though he has made a “full recovery”, I know things won’t be the same. He talks about his physical therapy and all the necessary follow-up appointments.

I knew the time would come when I would have to seriously consider his mortality. I just thought it wouldn't be until his 70’s or 80’s, not his early 60’s. But again, my dad is currently in good health, and he's a fighter of sorts so I’ll have to take less for granted and be more intentional.

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