Family Duties Ashore

My dad is only 58 but he's been slowly getting major joints worked on with lasers - sloughing off arthritic burrs, repairing torn rotator cuffs... he even had a blown out bicep repaired today. He looks at me, half teary, half giddy on Percoset, and says "Kim you need to watch out for this stuff. You do too much manual labor and you don't want to go through this." He's about to take his sixth percoset in eight hours and there's still pain. I realized today that I have never seen my dad naked. Today I had to zip up his jeans for him and he yelped in pain. Awkward! The nurse laughed. Overall, he's doing fine. Just day surgery. Turns out his arm was a lot more messed up than anticipated, though, and I don't want to think about staying up here at his mountain home, beautiful as it is, for more than a month. We're going to see how it goes for the next week. He'll be in the sling for six weeks, which gets me out of here at the beginning of April, as planned. I hate to leave him up here alone but he knows I belong on the water and if he needs me to live with him for part of every year he will have to move back to his house on Puget Sound. But jeez, he's only 58! A youngster for sure! Unfortunately these surgeries make him feel old and weak.

In the last year, two friends had to deal with their fathers passing. One spent months with his dad, losing a huge chunk of income in the process, and having to dedicate the rest of the year to being at sea. It's interesting... his father was a well known captain on the West Coast for years, was rarely home, was an alcoholic and ultimately died of lung cancer. He was also someone I'd proudly call my friend, and with all his faults, his son stood by his side dutifully for months, and he had so many visitors during his last month that he was never for one minute lonely in his clinic room. He was an asshole to some, a mentor to many, and above all a good mariner, which he passed on to his son. My father has never been a mariner, but he's a hardworking man who can by himself build a complete house in mere months. He taught me my work ethic, and it's hard for both of us to see him unable to build, exercise, or work for any period of time. I'm grateful the doctor was able to easily repair his arm and shoulder. I'm certainly not prepared to deal with the idea of my father not recovering from some ailment or disability. He raised me, sometimes by himself, and has been the one consistent person in my life from the start. Among a few other opportunities I turned down an invite to document the Haiti relief efforts aboard the schooner Liberty this month, because regardless of how crazy he can make me I will always be here for my father.


  1. Going to a birthday party today. A pair of my brother's boys turn the lucky 7, (in the Philippine tradition). We were trying to "look forward" with their gift this time around - in keeping with that tradition. I heard that my Pa and Mom were setting up a fund for the pair's education and I called to get aboard with that. Pa said that he would get back to me... He didn't. The day approached, I called back, got a "oh yeah, that" and a promise that he'd get right on it. I called my mom yesterday. Long and short: The gift will be late.
    This is the first time for me and it's like: "Wow, he's the smartest guy I know".
    This is going to be hard. I'm a whole lot older than you J.T. and he's a hell of a lot older than your dad. I feel for you.
    Do everyone take care of yourself. It only lasts so many miles.

  2. Kim, I am also 58, which still feels young to me. I also have shoulder issues, though I haven't been for the surgery yet, got some cortisone last summer which helps immensely, but is merely a stop gap measure, and not a solution. The laser, was that an open surgery or non-invasive? Bless your heart for staying with your dad, though he could do worse than move to the Puget Sound area. Recently lost my Mom @ 83, she was ready, so a sense of relief all round, but still a blow when they go. Keep up the good work. Lovin' the blog! thomas