When Should a Parent Tell Son That Father is Dying ('72-'73)


JBG
#1
I wrote this earlier last month. I didn't know this forum well enough to know where to put it. I posted an update to what happened on this day 45 years ago. Both the December 15 portion and the December 31-January 1 portion merit comment. Thus while I did not keep a diary I posted it in diary form.

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December 15, 1972

Exactly 45 years yesterday, on December 15, 1972 (also a Friday) I was a 15 year old high school sophomore. I came home from school that icy day, hoping that the Holiday concert I was due to perform in wasn't going to be snowed or iced out.

My father had had a rectal cancer resected in late August 1971. After a promising start he began developing pains in July 1972. He had a liver scan and his doctor flat-out lied to him about the results; they told him it was "clear." While he had his good days, many days were increasingly painful by October. My doctor said he told my mother the outlook and at some level I think he was telling me the truth. When he gave my mother a surprise party on November 7, 1972, her 40th birthday, I think she was pretty sure it was near the end, though he still went to work in NYC every day.

He had another liver scan on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving. His doctor told my mother that he was close to death, though that day he felt well enough we even talked about his returning to the ski slopes that winter. His last day of work was December 8; he was checked into New Rochelle Hospital on December 11, a Monday. One of the doctors there told my mother "don't you think it's time you told your son"?

When I came home she tried to be indirect. It didn't work, since I knew from my reading at the library what the real outlook for his disease was. I insisted on calling his doctor, since teh lack of candor seriously bothered me. He told me he had told her in October, but that he knew from before the 1971 operation my father was finished. I called my cousin in another state, who confirmed that I had read the literature correctly. That night, since my mother didn't feel up to driving, I took a cab to the High School to play at the concert. It was too icy to bike the six or so miles.

I wanted to tell my father what his fate was to be. My mother would not permit me to do that. my father died on January 5, 1973, exactly four weeks later.

The question I throw out there is, in that kind of situation, when should a son or daughter know what's going on? I did my own reading and came to my own conclusion. Thoughts?

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December 31, 1972 - January 1, 1973

On New Years Eve, 45 years ago today we visited my father in the hospital. While he had a "good day" the day before, he was semi-conscious, his legs waving in the air and the rest of him tied securely to the bed. The providers had unhooked the feeding tube, telling us that he (involuntarily) struggled too much. We understood it to mean that they knew the end was near and there was no point.

His sister and her significant other showed up after a New Years Eve engagement. My mother was told by the nurse that she was in party gear and wreaked of alcohol. She ordered the tubes reconnected, so they tied my father more securely (the way you would tie a cord of lumber) and put him back on. When I came back to the hospital I was livid. My mother said to just "let it be."

I went back to school the next day at the end of the holiday break. With a few dimes in my pocket to keep my tabs on what was going on. He died Thursday night/Friday morning.
 
Torch light
+1
#2  Top Rated Post
Every living being, every material being whether man or animal or plant .. will inevitably die whatever long or short life he may live in this material World.
It is a law that is decided without any exception.
But the death does not mean the end of man or other material living beings.
Death means the separation of the spirit or soul from the material body, so the material body will disintegrate while the soul will keep living in the spirit world of the Afterlife.

http://www.quran-ayat.com/man/index.htm#What_Is_Man_
quran-ayat.com/man/index.htm#What_Is_Man_
 
WLDB
+1
#3
As soon as it’s known. Provided they are old enough to understand. If they’re 5 it’d probably be tricky but at 15 there’s no reason not to be honest.
 
JBG
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDB View Post

As soon as itís known. Provided they are old enough to understand. If theyíre 5 itíd probably be tricky but at 15 thereís no reason not to be honest.

I had figured it out during the year before by doing my own reading and talking to key non-involved people. That cuts the b***s**t real fast.
 
JLM
#5
While no one can predict the time of death for sure and there's a slim chance it could be years off, I think anyone over the age of about 8 should be told the truth................."your father is very ill and we're not exactly sure how long he has left, but he could die at any time"


P.S. At one point my father was given a year and lasted five. That was just after he blew the aorta.
 
Torch light
#6
Death is the fate of every mortal; and it may be that the healthy will die before the ill.
But accepting this fact depends on the mind and wisdom of man in addition to his belief or unbelief.

I was once invited to examine a man (who had died) but they wanted to check it: so I examined the man and said to the family that he had died and gone to his Lord ..

his son a foolish one blasphemed and reviled God Almighty; I said : Don't say this.

This family ( I knew them; I was their family doctor) later had more calamities: the older son was accidentally killed (by his own design and stupidity) ... I knew this for certain.

================================================== ===========

And it is a trend among Muslims, enjoined on them by God in the Quran, that they say when they are told of or when have some mishap that they say:
"To God we belong,
and to Him is our return.
"

http://quran-ayat.com/pret/2.htm#a2_156
quran-ayat.com/pret/2.htm#a2_156
 
JBG
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by JLM View Post

While no one can predict the time of death for sure and there's a slim chance it could be years off, I think anyone over the age of about 8 should be told the truth................."your father is very ill and we're not exactly sure how long he has left, but he could die at any time"


P.S. At one point my father was given a year and lasted five. That was just after he blew the aorta.

I know. That could have been the case through the summer or even early fall. When the cancer was progressing from organ to organ real fast I doubt it. It nailed the intestinal track, liver and a shoulder by October.
 
WLDB
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by JBG View Post

I had figured it out during the year before by doing my own reading and talking to key non-involved people. That cuts the b***s**t real fast.

Indeed. With something like cancer itíll become obvious eventually even if you arenít told. Today I have a feeling itíd be harder to hide than back then.
 
JBG
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDB View Post

Indeed. With something like cancer itíll become obvious eventually even if you arenít told. Today I have a feeling itíd be harder to hide than back then.

When I was in Barbados on vacation in February 1972, while my father was still quite well, I went to the night club to listen to some Calypso music (think Day-O, Jamaica Farewell). I got to talking with a doctor from, I think, New Jersey or Illinois. We talked a bit about the operation and casually said "they got it all." The doctor said there was technically no such thing as "getting it all."

When I got home I "hit the books" in the school library and Scarsdale Public and found out he was quite right. I had done reading earlier with more equivocal results. No Internet back in 1972.
 

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