Your grandfather, at age 84, is in the hospital. The news gets worse daily. Sixteen years ago he had prostate cancer. The prostate was surgically removed and a little radiation seemed to solve the problem. His left arm began swelling, without explanation, a few months ago. The medical folks did cat scans on his left shoulder. They have now discovered several things. His lymph nodes are swollen. They took a biopsy. Cancer. We have questions – Is this lymphoma? Is this a residual from the prostate cancer of years past? The difference is that lymphoma is a primary cancer and might be treatable. Residuals from the prostate cancer suggest metastasizing – not a good thing – it means the cancer has spread.
Notice how I talk about this in a clinical analysis manner. I am talking about my father. People tell me I am just like him. They usually say that in a disparaging manner. He and I are known as obnoxious, intemperate, sarcastic, self-righteous people. He and I have struggled all of my life – We addressed each other with our personalities rather than our love. Neither of us know how to express love in an appropriate manner.
He is a forceful man of great resolve – and this has been his contract with everyone in his life – including his children.
I feel sad today. He is stuck in a hospital, out of control, left to the decisions of the medical community. That is not his style. He has always presented an image of a man in control of himself – and everything in his realm of influence. I fear he will try to take control by refusing medical treatment. I don’t want to talk with him or the doctors – because it is in my nature to try to take control.
Our life conflict continues.