Some months ago as I was dragging my sorry ass through some heavy waters somewhere preparing for the English Channel crossing almost upon me, I invoked the spirit of my late father, Bob to carry me the distance. He never let me down when he was alive, and didn’t that day either.
The price for my invocation was some money I was to raise in his honor. Like so many promises I made to my father, I’ve left this to the last minute.
In choosing a cause for a fundraising memorial, it’s not as if I was bereft of choices. Dad had a major stroke in his fifties, lived with the consequences of a poor rehabilitation for twenty years, contracted leukemia in his seventies and ultimately died of bowel cancer. That was just under two years ago.
We had some memorable conversations about his medical conditions. Would he have surgery to remove the clot from his brain? That was brief. How frequent would the blood transfusions become before he would die from his incurable leukemia? Would he take chemo to slow the bowel cancer that would otherwise claim him, and did, within a matter of days?
Curiously, we never once talked about his depression. His depression was diagnosed, medicated and managed, but never spoken about. That was the way of men of his times, and sadly many still. It’s easier to talk about matters of the flesh than the head.
If we’d had the talk; I would’ve told him how proud I was that he pushed through, that he ran his business and provided for his family, that he more than pulled his weight in the community? I would have asked him how he achieved what he did, and I may have learnt how to better deal with my slightly more complicated variation on the theme, bipolar 2.
That’s why I swim, and it’s why I will swim for him.