A Bittersweet Birthday

by Bill Brenner on August 27, 2012

I felt very loved yesterday as we celebrated my 42nd birthday. Erin and the kids got me a guitar and practice amp, and we had an afternoon of grilling and enjoying the sun with some of my closest friends. My father was there too, but he wasn’t looking well.

Mood music:


Dad sat on the deck with his eyes mostly closed and kept dropping his water glass. When I was helping him out of his seat, he almost fell back. This morning my sister and stepmom called to tell me he’s now in the cardiac care unit of a hospital in Boston, with lungs filled with fluid and a heart with beat way out of tune from where it should be.

This is life in one’s 40s. You’re still young enough to lap up all the life around you, but you also have to watch your parents turn into the constantly sick people your grandparents were.

That’s not the universal way of things, obviously. But when I talk to other friends who are now in their 40s, you hear a lot of the same stories.

I don’t see it as something to be pitied for. It’s a part of life. My father hasn’t always taken taken care of himself, and he had a couple vicious strokes last year, which means life is spinning a little faster and more erratically these days.

I think Dad will come out of this all right, and frankly I think this is better than if he’d had a stroke. Dad has worked hard to regain his ability to walk, see and swallow, and he has made significant progress. Another stroke could have wiped out all that work.

I think he’s simply been pushing himself too hard. He doesn’t like sitting around at home all the time — a trait I inherited — so he’s been pushing himself into projects that require more energy than he has many days.

It sucked seeing him that way. But I’m glad he was here for my birthday. He got to see his grandkids and get a break from the monotony of therapy and limited movement. As shitty as he felt, I think that was good for his soul.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes yesterday. It was a real ego boost, which we all need from time to time.

As sad as it made me to see my father hurting, it was a very good day.

Please say a little prayer for the man.

Dad and Duncan

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