or: Why I’m a terrible daughter

1300 miles from here, my father is probably dying.

And I am playing Tetris in my pajamas and eating pudding for dinner. I have not called him today.

Yesterday I tried once, but he didn’t answer.

Along with skin cancer, extreme weight loss, possible COPD from 57 years of smoking, and whatever on top of that is probably killing him, he is also going deaf.

My cousin, who lives in a town an hour from my father, is going to drag him to the doctor this week sometime. She is kind, a good niece, a good daughter to my father’s sister, who would rather he not be dying.

I would rather he not be dying. It may kill his mother.

Most everyone would rather my father not be dying, except it seems my father. He may be refusing to eat, it’s not clear.

What is clear is that if he IS dying, my siblings and I should make an effort to go down there.

I have not seen him since I visited in 2016; one brother saw him last year, my sister and the other brother have not seen him in longer.

Possibly much longer.

I am not sure — maybe being terrible children runs in families?

I do know that I am not going to try to call tonight, although I had planned to. At this point I am full of pudding and regret for never having found a way to help my father take care of himself.

I am full of sorrow and bread and too many games of Tetris, which I played very badly.

I do not want my father to be dying.

I am full, at this point, of pointless anger at all the years that made so little sense. I am angry at my lack of sense, in never having sent my son to stay with my father, my father’s family. There is a whole section of his family history he will only know through me, and I can tell it only through the eyes of a northern girl, grown in a particularly squalid and lonely kind of poverty.

I can never convey the sense of my grandmother, who grew up herself on a plantation in Georgia. I barely understand it myself.

I can never convey the joy and horror of living in your mother’s backyard.

Of possibly dying in your mother’s backyard.

My father could do that, could have done that.

But my son is grown, now.

And my father is busy, possibly dying.

I still write sometimes, and I have a buttload of already-written stuff. So there you go.

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