Last Wednesday, it rained heavily in Beijing. On the way back from my dad’s, when I thought about it, my dad has been sick for more than four years.
Realizing that I knew nothing about him and trying to understand him, it all happened on June 2, 2017, the day of his first brain attack. Before that, it had never dawned on me that I knew very little about my father and hardly ever thought about learning about his past. That day, in the hospital emergency room, looking at this little old man, my heart was bewildered. Not sad, but bewildered. I felt that I knew nothing about this man. I had to wake him up anyway, I hadn’t gotten to know him yet.
Four years have passed.
Have I gotten to know him better than I did that day? It seems so. And it seems not.
Two years after the first brain attack, he could still talk and we could briefly chat; after the second brain attack in 2019, he lost the ability to speak and would only say a few one-word words, eat or hungry. By now, he hasn’t spoken to me in two years.
I still don’t know him. And, there is almost no chance.
On June 2, 2017 at 8:50 pm, my dad had a sudden brain attack. Thank goodness the person came through. Immediately 81, what a blessing he didn’t go.
But two days later, the chief of theology checked in on him and asked, “What does 100 minus 7 equal? ” My dad couldn’t answer and said it was too difficult. He could only figure out 10 minus 7. After doing other tests and combining them with the MRI, the director told me that the diagnosis was basically confirmed, that my dad had dementia. At first, the director said it in a gentle manner, but when he saw that I was not taking it seriously, he told me clearly that “it is dementia”.
I stupidly said that I just can’t read the numbers, and I don’t need him to do the math anyway. The director said, because of the cerebral infarction caused by ischemia for a long time, valuable brain cells died a large number, and, brain cells are dead, can not be regenerated; and, my father is mainly the most important part of the brain area, commonly known as the hippocampus, the brain cells are seriously killed. That part of the region, responsible for computing, memory, emotions. The director said, my father will remember what happened a long time ago, but he can not remember what happened recently, you ask him what he ate last night he may not know. According to my understanding, the part of the brain that “my dad is my dad” is like a 500G hard drive that broke down and now only has 1G left ……
I told the director that it’s okay to not remember, it’s okay to not be able to read numbers, it’s okay for him to be able to brush his teeth and wash his face and eat and go to the bathroom by himself; the director also said, hurry up and treat, don’t really one day your father doesn’t recognize you, it’s entirely possible. I told the director, “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know me, I know him! “
I don’t know much about medical stuff, but I just remember the doctor saying to interact with him more. So when I went back, I talked to him more. In fact, a lot of times, I don’t know what to talk to my dad about. When I was young, I was so focused on leaving home and getting out of my mom’s control that I didn’t have much interaction with my dad.
The summer after he was sick, I talked to him about his college entrance exam essay: “Write a letter to yourself in 2035. What do you think of this topic? “
The old man rustled his corners with his long fingers (the director said this disease has this action), while nodding: “This is a good topic. Good to start. “I asked him why this topic is good to start with, and he said, “You can make the ideal concrete. “
Everyone has the need to be needed by others. Dad what do you think of this topic? “
“Well, the topic is close to life, everyone can have their own perspective, everyone can have something to say. Not bad. “
The old man finally concluded: “The more specific the topic, the better to write. The bigger and more vague, the worse it is to write. Anyway, you still have to observe life. Otherwise there is nothing to say. “
Talking with my girlfriend about this, she said, “Our father went to open a college entrance examination essay tutoring class, monthly income of hundreds of thousands. I said, “There is too much money to count, besides, he took the money does not know the way home; on the road is not sure to whom. “
Once, the nanny sisters praised the old man for sleeping well, getting up once or twice in the night. They said, “Let your daughter buy you a big red flower”, I said, “Where else can you sell that today? My father stuffed dumplings into his mouth while saying, “They’re just playing around. “Well, I understand.
At first, the director said, my father’s disease, sleepless nights and days is very common.
Every time I go back on Saturday, I ask my dad first: “Are you doing well these days? My father himself always said “yes”. Once even said “first-class good”, the nanny sister while happy, said. “You don’t sleep at night, and you’re still first class? My father still insisted and gave himself a thumbs up. Occasionally the big sister look tired, I said, “If he does not sleep, you all can not sleep. “My father immediately picked up a sentence:” I can not let them sleep for a while ah! We laughed together: “Hey quite understand ah this moment. “This moment is to understand, may not get up several times in the night.
My dad was always very polite to the nanny. Give him a bowl of fruit puree, he nodded his head to thank; asked him if he wanted to eat white potatoes, he said yes, and gave a salute to the big sister. I said, “Dad, why are you so polite? He said, “I depend on them to take care of my life, so why not be polite? “Probably because my father was never rude, a few sisters did not rest well, but did not say anything.
After he got sick, I asked a lot of questions about his childhood.
A long time ago, my mom once told me that my grandfather put my dad on a particularly high chair, and my dad couldn’t get down, so he had to study. I asked my father to confirm this matter. He first said, “He could have done it. “And then he said, “My grandfather thought I was study material. “
Wait, who was it? My grandfather is your father, your grandfather is your father’s father, this is a generation difference ah. “My dad poofed, thought carefully and said, is his grandfather. Fortunately, ask ah, otherwise a case of injustice. My father said his grandfather in the grandchildren more optimistic about him, think he can study, business is not that piece of material. I said your grandfather was quite accurate.
My mom always told me that my dad never went to high school, so I always thought my dad got out of his high chair and went to Peking University. Not at all. My dad never went to elementary school, but his grandfather or my grandfather hired a teacher to teach him at home, and then my dad went from the town to the best high school in the county.
My dad said he met a few good teachers in middle school. He was not the best performer in the class, but he was bold, others did not dare to enroll in Peking University, he dared. Originally did not expect to be able to get into, think that a Sichuan University will be very good. As a result, which teacher encouraged him, saying “try not to try how to know not to”. So it was.
In 1936, my father was born in Baisha Town, Jiangjin County, Chongqing City, Sichuan Province. I’ve been to Baisha once, it’s a small, small place. I went there in winter. The mountains were beautiful, not cold, but wet, it always rained, and the roads in town were wet and muddy. The Yangtze River flows in front of the town. We took a train from Beijing to Chongqing and then a boat ride of about two hours to get there.
For many, many years I didn’t know what kind of effort my dad, a small teenager, had put in to get out of that small place and get into Peking University.
The old man said at one point, “I’m not a genius, but I didn’t have to work hard to study. “You didn’t have any trouble with math either? “No. Then how come I struggled so much with math? “You think less, right? “Choke me …… old man said again, Qian Xuesen gave them a report, “that really genius. I said Dad you can really not modest, are beginning to take themselves and Qian Xuesen than ah, he said again, “you do not care if I am modest or not, I read the book does not bother. “And went on to say, “If I don’t test out, I’ll never get ahead in life. “
I think it is, the town by the Yangtze River in Sichuan, if not by studying to get out of school, but also really can not get out. No need to ask, my father’s teenage years must be strong. At the same time, I also understand why my aunt’s two children later came to Beijing to study in college, my father in our family is not a generous situation, gave the two children a certain amount of financial assistance, it must be because he knows that it is not easy to come out of a small place.
The actual fact is that my dad really can’t remember what happened recently, whether he ate breakfast or not, what he watched last night, if you ask me, I’ll open my mouth and answer, nothing is right. However, anything related to my mom, no matter how big or small, there is nothing he can’t remember.
In the summer of 2017, when he was first hospitalized, my mom asked one day where she put her laxatives, and the new nanny at home didn’t know. I didn’t know either. My dad opened his mouth and said, “It’s in the cabinet under the phone. “One catch. Every time the doctor came to do some kind of test, he saw my dad trying very hard to say the home phone number, and he couldn’t remember any other numbers.
My mom is grumpy, strong, unreasonable, and once some years ago really pissed me off, I told my dad, “You guys are so old, I can’t persuade you to get a divorce can I. “My father said, my mother so because of poor health, can not go out, can not see friends, but also said, the first decades are satisfied, now my mother’s health is not good, of course, to try to take care of her.
My mother is rheumatoid. Long ago, she could not do housework. My dad started learning how to cook or something after my mom got sick. Of course, my mom said it was not good. The patient’s temper is not good, but I used to think that Marvel’s superheroes were heroes, and then I thought my dad was a hero.
Later, my father was also sick. The first brain attack just woke up to be able to talk, the first sentence asked, “Your mother at noon to eat watermelon did not? Later, every time he was hospitalized for a review, he made a fuss about coming home. When he saw me, he asked, “How is your mother getting along with the nanny? The actual fact is that you’ll be able to find out more about these things than anyone else, and he’s never confused.
Sometimes he gets angry too. When I asked him to go to the hospital for a review, he didn’t want to go. He wants to stay at home and keep an eye on my mom. The actual fact is that you will be able to get a lot more than just a few of these.
Once I went back, the nanny sister quietly called me into the kitchen and said mysteriously that one night my dad got up, but instead of calling someone, he went to my mom’s side and secretly kissed her. That day, she was afraid that my dad would fall on his feet, so she asked, “Uncle, what are you doing up? ” My dad said to go to the bathroom. She helped my father go to the bathroom, and then my father went back to lie down, as if nothing had happened. The next day at noon again, for several days in a row.
I was amazed.
Because I had never seen them act intimately in my life. I have seen them fight. If what the babysitter said is true, I’m not sure if my dad forgot something or remembered something at that moment. The first time I saw this, I was able to see the difference between my mother’s and my father’s temperaments as if they were at opposite poles of the earth. The best thing about this is that it’s not a good idea to have a good time.
Maybe they had some common experience when they were young, so that they are infinitely tolerant and accommodating in their lives, no matter how badly one side is doing. There must be something that keeps them together in this life. But what is this thing, I do not know.
The most remorseful thing is that from the first brain attack to the second brain attack these two years, I still did not understand my father more deeply.
When my dad first got sick, every time I went back I would ask him if he slept well at night and if he ate well. One day he said, “Eating and sleeping is not a problem, the trouble is – he thinks he’s stupid.
I didn’t know how to answer him, but I could only say that the most important thing in life is to know right from wrong, good from evil, right from wrong.
He often asks, “What’s the use of taking those drugs? I said that although the broken cells cannot be revived, we have to work hard to ensure that the remaining cells can still work properly. I often thought, if only he had been a person who had no demands on himself.
In the spring of 2019, he started to copy a poem every day. My friend bought a book, pens and ink for him. Although I saw that my dad’s handwriting was not as good as it used to be, he copied it clearly and neatly, insisted on copying it every day, and proofread it himself, correcting any typos immediately, which was a huge achievement.
On June 17, 2019, he had another brain attack. A second brain infarction is often much more serious than the first. Let alone someone who is already in his eighties.
I asked the doctor, “What did I do wrong? For the past two years, but I have strictly followed the medical advice on everything. The doctor said, “You do not smoke, do not drink, sleep early and get up early you can guarantee that you will not go out in a car accident? “
My dad’s current situation is not very descriptive. I just feel like he’s shrinking every day.
His speech is impaired again. He can’t talk to him about anything anymore. I don’t know what he thinks about many issues, how he really lived from childhood to old age, what he was like in his work, just the very day-to-day, very specific things, the details that really define a person, I don’t know. That’s a big deal.
And it’s not at all because biologically he’s my dad that I want to know about him. It’s because as a human being, an equal human being, I think he’s a person worth knowing.
People say “you are a dutiful daughter”. I reject the title of “filial” at the root. I don’t recognize it. It’s too heavy to come at all. All along, internally, my relationship with my father, is a normal father-daughter relationship. No one has been kind to anyone, no one owes anyone. In the premise of this relationship reciprocity, I instead want to get to know him more.
In the summer of 2020, he was bedridden for a long time and had poor digestion, plus a lung infection, vomiting and fever. When he went to the emergency room, the doctor said that the situation was serious, and that anything could happen to a senior patient who was bedridden for a long time, so I should be prepared, and said that the family would come if they wanted to take a look.
Finally, the doctor asked me if I needed invasive resuscitation, would I do it or not? I didn’t even blink and said, “No.” When I signed the paper, I told the doctor that I would not do it. When I signed the papers, I told the doctor, “I’ve been there before, it’s different. When I signed for my mom last time, I was gritting my teeth. “
Settle into a hospital bed and go to the car for breakfast.
Outside, people came and went in a hurry. The sky is a grayish blue. From the gap in the leaves you can see scattered sky. Looking at those people, it seemed like I had come from another planet, or maybe, suddenly, I had gone to a strange planet. If one day I go to the world of “Westworld”, see the humanoid objects, this is the feeling – between me and them, separated by a glass envelope, looks not far away, but reach out and can not touch.
After all, they are people of two worlds.
The tears could not stop coming down.
I never felt that my father held up the sky, my father was the mountain behind me. But when he said that maybe he was leaving, he suddenly felt that the world was so big and I was all alone.
At that moment, life has never felt so lonely.
And everything I loved and pursued suddenly became meaningless and came to nothing.
It was as if I suddenly knew what it meant to be related by blood. I didn’t know before. I really didn’t know. I’m as dumb as I am, but there are some things I really have to experience before I can understand.
Doctors usually make the situation more serious. Fortunately, those things did not happen.
Once, I was talking to a friend, and I mentioned that it was only after middle age that I remembered to get to know my parents. That’s where we came from.
After my dad’s second brain attack, he hadn’t spoken to me for two years by now.
He still talks to his caregiver sometimes, but it’s just one word. Ask him if he is hungry, he will say yes; ask him if he watches TV, he will say yes. When the former nanny sister came home and asked him if he knew her, he said yes. He can say one or two words with the two sisters, but not a word with me.
Sometimes the nursing sister asks, “Look who’s back,” and my dad looks at me and doesn’t say anything. Then she asks him, “Who is this? Uncle do you know”, he still did not say anything.
He talked to the nurse, the nanny, my aunt and uncle, even if it was only one word, it was still talking. Only with me, not a word.
I always want to know what he thinks, if he has a problem with me. I have never officially told him about my mother’s absence. Is he resenting me? I think he knows everything in his heart, how sick he is, that my mother is gone, he knows all these things. It’s just that he can’t say it.
He still knows me. I have no doubt about it.
Father’s Day, my greatest wish is that my father could say a word to me. One word is fine.
Last year’s wish was this. This year it’s still – I know that the part of my life that I didn’t get to know him, I no longer have the opportunity to hear him tell it.
I once thought, unknowingly, that if I wrote a novel I would call it “Me and Dad” and the opening line would probably go something like this –
When I was a kid, I didn’t know what my dad actually did, my mom said he worked in a confidential unit. My father worked in Tong County and returned home to Xiaoxitian every Wednesday and Saturday. At that time, the traffic was difficult and it took more than two hours each way. Every time he came back, he would bring me a piece of Yili’s Wafers. Every Wednesday and Saturday, at 6:55 p.m., I would stand under the street lamp at the entrance of the compound and wait for him. My dad never broke his promise. Once, when it was snowing in winter, it was after 7:00 and my dad hadn’t come back yet. The family told me not to wait, saying “you go home and wait is not the same? I just didn’t listen, I just stood under the streetlight. It was almost eight o’clock when my dad appeared from the snowflakes. That day, the Wafer cookies were particularly delicious.
About my childhood, about my dad, the dim streetlights and the flying snowflakes, the small my dad and the even smaller me, this shot was fixed in my life for a long time