Sometimes especially when I work too much, when I can't put the phone away, and when my brow is furrowed with worry, my mom shakes her head at me and says in the most exasperated tone, "You're just like your father."
She's right of course. I am a workaholic and my dad is a workaholic. I am sensitive and my dad is sensitive. I don't look like my dad really, except for his height, but I think like my dad. I process things the same way he does. I can't let things go until they are fixed. Done. Right.
I am my father's daughter. But sometimes? We're different.
For you see, I complain. Oh, oh do I complain. I complain about my crazy clients, I complain about my children growing up, I complain about morons who are texting and almost run into me, and I complain far too much about things over which I have absolutely no control. Like the weather.
My dad doesn't complain.
My dad has cancer. I hate typing it. I hate that it's true. Typing it doesn't make it true. It's already true. But typing it makes it real. Makes it smack me in the face.
I hate cancer. I hate my dad's cancer. I complain, frequently, about my dad's cancer. I complain about the ridiculous unfairness of it all. How he's so good and kind and hardworking and it's so unfair, just so damn unfair, that someone like him has to suffer. Vietnam was enough suffering for anyone and he made it through that Hell on Earth and now this. How he's worked so hard his entire life and it should be his time to relax and enjoy his life...and get to go on trips, not have a headache every single day, not have to have surgery time and time again, and to just not feel so bad. Because he is my daddy. And he is so good. And it's just not fair. The unfairness of it makes me sick.
I'm thirty-six, I know by now that life isn't fair. I know that cancer isn't selective. It will strike people who are good just as quickly as it strikes people who are dicks. I get that the doctor that I tried very hard not to cry in front of today does not understand that THIS MAN IS MY DAD AND BY GOD I WANT HIM TO BE FIXED. I'm a fixer. Like my father. It's what we do. There is always something you can do to fix things. Until it's cancer.
So I complain. Sometimes I cry.
But you ask my dad, who has way more of a reason and a right to be angry than I do, how he's doing? I pretty much guarantee you he will say, "I can't complain."
And you know, he could complain. No one would blame him if he did. But he doesn't. Because he recognizes that things could be worse. He's held his thirteenth grandchild. He's never lost a child. He still has a job and he still has health insurance, and he made it out of Vietnam alive when a lot of other people didn't. That other people have worse cancers than him.
My mom says I'm like my dad.
I complain about my crazy clients when I should be thankful I have a job and can support my family. I complain about my children growing up when I should be grateful for the amazing human beings they are becoming (I am, but I still need improvement). I complain about stupid people texting and, well, I give myself a pass on that one because they are idiots and might hurt someone. But really, the rest of the stuff? I need to do better. The weather is actually really nice where I live. Mostly sunny.
My dad is alive. He's here. Cancer has not beat him. My cousins would give anything in the world to have their mom alive and with them. I know this. That really hurts to type too.
I can't complain. I shouldn't complain.
My mom says I'm like my dad.
I believe that's probably a compliment I don't deserve.
But I'm trying.