A Little Thing

My Dad’s memorial/wake/celebration of life thingy was yesterday (I started this on Sunday so “yesterday” was actually Saturday) and I wrote a little speech thing to kind of get the sharing ball rolling:

“I write a humor blog and when I have had the occasion, in the past, to do live readings I usually start off by talking about one of my greatest inspirations; my Dad. Those of you that knew him well, knew him peripherally or just stood in the same room with him for any length of time whatsoever, knew that Scott was rude, crude, crass, foul, vulgar, uncouth, tactless, classless, tasteless, coarse, obscene, profane, blue, purple and perhaps even off-color. Scott wove cussing into every day discourse with the stealth of a ninja and the precision of a surgeon. He loved dirty jokes. In fact when I was 6 he taught me a joke, the meaning of which I was totally unable to grasp until I was a little bit older but that did not stop me from sharing it with everyone at the family reunion that Summer. Here it is; What do a 747 and a peroxide blonde have in common? They both have a black box (pauses for laughter). At 6 years old I genuinely thought I understood this joke in that I believed that the black box that the bleach blonde had, referred to the box in which her hair dye came from the store…turns out I was wrong about that. 

The story I usually tell people about Dad is so inappropriate that I almost don’t want to share it today….almost. [BOAT STORY]
(This was actually copied directly from my notes wherein I did not write out the boat story. And no, I will not write out the boat story. I tell it at the beginning of nearly every live reading I have ever done, so chances are a lot of you have heard it. It would also lose something in print because if you cannot hear it in Scott’s voice [which, of course, at this point is impossible] you should at least hear it told with my impression of Scott. It would be no good in print…and also I don’t want anymore hate mail this week. Long story still pretty long, if you want to hear the boat story you have to come see me read…or just bump into me in line at the grocery store; I’ll totally tell it to you there)
My Dad taught me that it was better to laugh first, and last and every occasion in between. I am deeply blessed to have his wonderful sense of humor as well as his high tolerance for alcohol, his impossibly Scandinavian whiteness, his love for having fun, being outside, setting things on fire, camping, fishing, star-gazing, rivers, beaches, animals, loud music, laughter, dancing (not well, but dancing nonetheless), drinking, eating, and bullshitting. I think one of things I admired most about Scott was that he could make friends with anyone, and often did, as we can very well see looking around here today. Thank you all so much for coming, and I hope we can all share some wonderful memories and celebrate a man for whom we all cared very deeply and who cared very deeply for all of us. 
Sharing Scott’s love with all of you has served only to grow it, not incrementally but exponentially. Scott always had room for one more, at his table, in his home, in his heart whether you were human, canine, feline or my old roommate Rob’s rabbit that he didn’t want anymore, Scott would welcome you. And for those who would say that his passing so early on in life is a tragedy that could have been prevented; prevented with prudence or moderation to them I would say that there are those of us who would prefer to live our OWN life as opposed to a LONG life by someone else’s rules. Thank you!”
It was an awesome day! A difficult, nerve-wracking, heart-wrenching, confusing, sorrowful, unforgettable, awesome day and I really, really, really appreciate everyone who came out to show their love for Scotty. Everyone who laughed and cried and drank and shared, you made my day and I am sure a lot of others’ day as well. A few “thank yous” and “shouts out” to people who went above and beyond the make the day not only bearable but actually pretty darn okay:
I wanted to thank Skyler Cesarone for the beer, albeit Scott would never have touched an IPA I was very grateful, as I am sure most attendees were, that everyone could come together and raise a glass in Scott’s honor. Thank you so very much! Also, it was great catching up!
Sharon Lambert, I know you’ll never read this which is why I feel free to say that while I am fully aware that your eagerness to host my Father’s wake was not entirely egalitarian I nonetheless thank you so much for your hospitality, your reaching out to make the day possible and above all, your friendship with my Father which I know he valued a great deal. Also, I will be by later on tonight to pick up my Mom’s coat. See you then!
Those Pedersen Women, all of whom have married names now, and all of whom are my Sisters-in-law and for that I count myself amongst the luckiest gals alive. Thank you all for seeing that glazed look of confusion and uselessness in my eyes and knowing that it was your time to shine. When I could not handle it all three of you knew exactly when and how to take charge. You are a blessing to me and to everyone who knows you, of that I am sure!!!
Thank you to everyone who stepped up to share a story! I am sorry if there were any that I missed while I was out back sobbing in the horseshoe pit.
I know that just because we had a memorial does not mean that memorializing or remembering is over. It does help me, in the broader scope of things, to start to move on if such a thing can be done, but I will be celebrating Scott’s life every day for the rest of mine! I love you, Daddy! I miss you more than I can aptly express and I just hope that you are comfortable and happy and proud, wherever you are! XOXO

The Accidental Eulogy I Wrote for My Dad While Trolling a Troll!

So as a blogger and a person who has a reasonable grasp of common sense (I did not say I always employed said common sense) I rarely get bent out of shape about what people say (to me or anyone else) on the internet. I pretty much avoid comment sections because they are typically populated by the pond scum of humanity who STILL think that because they have a computer someone should give a shit about their opinion (says the blogger…ironically). But, when people comment on the shit I write, I totally read those because, DUH! And that is how I made my new bestest friend, Kelli! Kelli decided that it would be appropriate, nay, her duty to inform me that the way I chose to deal with the health complications and inevitable death of my Father was just not to her particular liking. Normally I would have just ignored it; see I don’t even delete negative or shitty comments or the people who write them because even that is paying them too much attention. But this was not a normal day, this was the day after my Dad died. So, when it became clear that Kelli had put up the force shields around her snotty comment making it so that me, as page manage could not reply, I decided to write her a personal message. But before we get into that below is a screenshot of her original comment:

 

Below is what I wrote to Kelli:

Hi Kelli,
I thought you and I could get to know one another since you seem to be so incredibly knowledgeable about all things, especially how other people should deal with the profound loss of a loved one. Now, I’ll admit, my Dad only died about *checks imaginary watch on wrist* 38 hours ago so it is possible that I have transitioned to the “anger” stage of grief, but I was wondering if you could tell me exactly HOW I should be dealing with my Dad’s death? He wasn’t elderly, you know. We weren’t expecting this. Oh, his name was Scott by the way, his friends that he grew up with called him Scooter. He was hilarious, generous, friendly, proud and the most non-judgmental person you could meet. He loved his children, his friends, his family, his two sister, his 94 year old mother, his ex-wife (the mother of his children) and his dogs with passion and fervor. He was a wonderful, flawed, giving, inappropriate, soulful, joyful human being and yesterday morning I held his dead body in my arms and cried into his neck and tried to say goodbye as best I knew how. If only you had been there to instruct me on how I should have been behaving more properly in that moment. Or, who knows, maybe you are fucking magical and simply knowing YOU protects those you love from death…that must be it since you have clearly never lost anyone important to you. Except maybe one of your 18 cats (I am just making an intuitive leap here because your Facebook page has a shit ton of pictures of cats, no humans oddly enough, and cats don’t live very long).

Sincerely,
Your Newest Bestest Friend Who Never Tires of Hearing Your Completely Baseless Opinions
Dacia Hanson
XOXO

I don’t know what I hoped to achieve, if anything, by reaching out to the pearl-clutching Kelli but I felt that the result was a very nice tribute to Dad so it is probably what I will end up reading at his memorial service. I was definitely not expecting a reply, mostly because when you message someone with whom you are not friends the likelihood that they will see your message is typically slim. But she, in her unrelenting and infinite wisdom, TOTALLY WROTE BACK TO ME!!!

conversations with kelli

Whaaaaa….?

confused Jackie Chan

Even Jackie Chan is confused….

jack

Call me crazy….But I think this bitch might be fucking stupid!

 

What the….? At this point I was kind of bummed because it was clear that I could not pursue my campaign against this person because she was obviously….how to put this delicately….a fucking retard (I am violently aware that is a hot button term and has been deemed politically incorrect and that enlightened humans should not use it in derision but I am not using it in derision I am genuinely making an assessment that this person is mentally deficient or at the very least cannot read). Yeah, I was a little bummed that I couldn’t really be mad at a person who had no idea what she was talking about because she couldn’t read but all in all it was a nice distraction on a day I could really use one.

I did, however, try to write back to Kelli, just to ask her if she was a robot but her messenger account informed me that “this user is not currently accepting messages from you at this time”. Okay, we’ve all done stupid shit on the internet that we regret (lord knows I have) but I believe there two kinds of people on this earth; the kind that do stupid shit on the internet but then realize they either should not have done that stupid shit or do not want to deal with the fallout of said stupid shit so they block and ban and delete and claim they were “hacked” (like anyone would bother hacking you, you fucking useless nobody) and move to India and change their name and join a holy house where the internet does not exist OR the people who do stupid shit on the internet then watch with amusement while the rest of the world gets bent out of shape about it. In my opinion (which we can all agree doesn’t much matter) you might as well just own your stupid shit because there really is no running from it…that’s why god invented screenshots.

So I was ready to walk away when I saw this!

“So Old Renton Book Exchange and The Biblio Diva are one in the same! How Narcissistic of you. Shall I publish your little post, remember we’re best friends now peanut. [sic]” (and no, I did not get a screenshot of this which sort of blows my previous point out of the water but who gives a shit).

Okay, first of all, I super love my new nickname! Secondly, excellent detective work, Sherlock! You totally get a gold star! Thirdly, of course I am a narcissist; I am a blogger which automatically means that I am blessed with the unique ability to overlook my own irrelevance! Fourthly (and I am fairly certain that’s not a real word), her threat to “publish” what I had written to her was hilarious because if I write it, I am not doing it for my goddamn health! OF COURSE I AM GOING TO PUBLISH THAT SHIT! I am lazy as fuck and that was like a good 300 words. You are stupider than I thought if you think I was just gonna waste those on you! Sheesh!

hello mcfly

HELLO! McFLY! ANYBODY HOME?!?!

So, any decent human being would have learned some sort of valuable lesson by now but I think we can all agree that I am nowhere near being a decent human being. I am thankful to Kelli for distracting me from my misery for a few hours and I hope she reads this so she knows that she was helpful, because, at the end of the day, I am pretty sure that’s all she really wants; to help people.

Hey, I love you guys. Thanks to everyone who read (all of) yesterday’s post (and comprehended it in its entirety) and thank you for just being here and making life seem a little less horrible and a lot less pointless (that was a double negative). Everyone who took time out of their day yesterday to send me their love or prayers or thoughts or offer their condolences I owe you an enormous “thank you”, an enormous hug and probably an enormous martini! XOXO

This was Supposed to Have a Happy Ending…But Alas

I was at work on Wednesday, in our usual Wednesday afternoon production meeting. When the meeting let out I sat down at my desk and, because I had no real work to do, started to write a post for my blog. I then checked my phone. I saw that I had two missed calls and 3 texts. The calls had come from my brother which could only mean one thing; my Dad was in the hospital again. The texts were from two of my Dad’s roommates and one from my brother. I picked up my phone and went into the hallway to call him back. I listened while he told me that Dad had passed out in Home Depot, that his heart had stopped and that his ICD (or implantable cardioverter defibrillator or, if you want to get technical, the “shock box” that lives in his chest) had not recovered him from the spell. His roommate/friend/special lady person (not going to get into that now because it could not be more irrelevant), Erica, was with him and luckily Erica is a nurse. She performed CPR on him for 15 minutes while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. I don’t know how many of you have ever performed CPR or even watched someone perform CPR but it is a monumentally difficult task, physically and emotionally, to sustain for even 5 minutes straight so to Erica I say thank you, thank Sweet Muscly Jesus for you and your being there.

When the paramedics arrived they took him to UW Valley Medical Center in Renton. He had hit his head when he went down…and now it occurs to me that I should probably explain why my Dad passes out all the times and ends up in the hospital all the time. About 10 years ago my Dad started passing out, no one knew why. He eventually had a spell that landed him in the hospital where they discovered that he had a golf-ball sized tumor ON his heart. The weird part is they had no idea how long it had been there. Some of the doctors thought it was possible that it had been there all his life and was just now starting to cause problems. After many pokings and proddings and tests it was determined that this enormous mass on his heart was not cancerous, not malignant and not really doing anything anyone could find fault with so he was released and told to go live his life. Which is exactly what he did, occasionally passing out along the way, until May of 2011. It was May 26th at about 8:45 in the morning and Dad was driving the service truck for his work when he passed out at the wheel.

kentpole-480x321

This is the actual picture of the actual remains of my Dad’s work truck taken from the Tacoma News Tribune.

After being taken to the hospital by paramedics and being cleared for any major life-threatening injuries, doctors began to examine why this was happening. It was determined that my Dad had Atrial Fibrillation (AF) which is the most common form of arrhythmia, a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. A-fib causes his heart to function at a significantly decreased efficiency than a normal, healthy heart. His A-fib is thought to be caused by or at least exacerbated by the mass on his heart and his A-fib has, ostensibly, caused him to develop congestive heart failure (his body, and chest in particular take on fluid at a rapid rate and because of his decreased heart function he is unable to move the fluid around and distribute it throughout his body causing enormous amounts of pressure to build up in his chest and on his lungs making it difficult for him to breathe) and the congestive heart failure causes him to pass out. After the accident in 2011 was when they installed the shock box in his chest. Since then he does not drive (legally anyhow) and was forced to quit working. His heart functions at about a level of 10% efficiency which, as you might imagine, is not too great.

When my Dad arrived at the hospital Wednesday afternoon he was going from bad to worse. He had to be intubated, he was unable to breathe on his own, his heart had stopped, completely, at least 6 times that the medical staff was able to determine from the cached data on his shock box, he had two heart attacks and had been defibrillated like 12 times. It was not looking good but his heart, we quickly learned, was to be least of our concerns.

After I spoke with my brother I decided to leave work. Something felt different about this time. I picked up Bo and headed down I-5. I was in downtown Seattle when I got another call from my brother, except when I answered it was his wife. She said “you’d better get down here” and proceeded to inform me that Dad was not breathing on his own and it was not looking good. I called Josh and asked him to meet me at the hospital; whatever was happening there I knew that I could not take Bo with me to see it. I got my visitor’s pass after handing Bo off to Josh and went into the ER. My sister-in-law was standing outside the room. She came up to me and delivered the broad strokes; he had hit his head, he had bleeding on his brain, they might have to do surgery, it would be tonight… I could barely stand up, everything around me went watery, nothing would hold still. I walked into the room, determined not to lose my shit, and promptly lost my shit. Dad was on a respirator, sedated, in a large room with every piece of intimidating medical equipment on the planet hooked up to him or shoved inside of him. It was not easy to see him underneath the confusing, twisted, labyrinth of medical technology.

Before I knew what was happening my brother and I were being swept out of the room by someone in neurosurgery who wanted to “speak with us about our options”, which sounded like a thinly veiled attempt at not being foreboding. It did not work. We were now in another room, a small room that had only one purpose; this is where they told you the bad news. An impossibly tall man with a gentle demeanor spoke to us about what we could expect from my father’s condition moving forward. It was all very vaguely worded and presented in hypotheticals. And then we were being lead back to the room of medical and technological marvels to be shown my father’s CT scan. The tall man pointed out the white, shadowy area that covered the better part of the left side of my Dad’s brain. The cardiologist joined us, admitting that the brain was not his area of expertise but his casual positivity seemed, if not encouraging, at least comforting.

I went out to the lobby and found Bo and Josh. I asked Josh to go grab me some cigarettes while I took Bo to the cafeteria to get something at least resembling dinner. I picked at a salad and Bo ignored everything in the way of food while he and another little boy at a nearby table struck up a lively conversation about the grossness of zombies. Josh called. We left the cafeteria and met him in the upper parking lot, presumably far enough away from the hospital proper where I could smoke without noticeably violating hospital rules. Just as I lit up my Mom and Aunt pulled up. We spoke briefly and I told them to go ahead and that I’d be in shortly. I got Bo’s things out of one car and put into the other, preparing him to go home with Josh. I got a call from my sister-in-law saying that the neurosurgeon was coming down and needed to talk to me and my brother.

I went back into the hospital after seeing off Josh and Bo. We went back into the tiny room where bad news is delivered. There were more of us in there now; me, my brother and sister-in-law, my mom and my aunt. The neurosurgeon was there with the tall man I now understood to be his surgical assistant. He had small, beady pig eyes like a dead shark or Tony Romo. He was wearing his surgery hat and had a faint air of dude-bro-ness about him. He started to explain that the bleeding on my father’s brain was quite severe. He said that surgery could relieve any pressure that might exist but it would also probably kill him; that with his heart and respiratory health he may not even survive anesthesia and that even if he survived surgery we would most like be a vegetable. Okay, so what happens if we don’t operate, doc? Well, if you don’t operate the swelling or pressure (if there is any) might go away on its own but your Dad will probably still be a vegetable. Don’t get me wrong, pig-eyes had a fine bedside manner and, frankly, getting him to give it to us straight did take a little cajoling.

The gist of what he was trying to say and only half succeeding was that brain injuries like the one my father had were typically traumatic and the likelihood that he would make anything close to a full recovery was not probable and, in his opinion not plausible. He basically said there was almost no chance that my father would be the same man he was before this ordeal. We were in a difficult spot. We had to decide between doing nothing and doing something but no matter what the results would not be good and would probably be the same. I, for one, could not see the point in having my Dad’s skull cut open to relieve pressure that might not exist in a procedure that would most probably kill him for the result of his definitely being on life support for the rest of forever…I mean, fiscally alone it did not make sense, let alone all those other really good reasons to not cut someone’s skull open. I was about to pass out and could not look at pig-eyes anymore so I left the room and went to my Dad. I sat by his bed and cried while holding his hand. I leaned into his ear and said, “Daddy? Can you hear me?” He opened his eyes and nodded. I said, “I love you.” and he mouthed around the respirator that he loved me too. I could simply not reconcile that he was a lost cause at that point, that he was as good as broccoli and we should all just save ourselves the trouble and pull the plug, which is pretty much what pig-eyes over in the other room was getting at.

Once the decision was made (with no help from me) to NOT operate my Dad was able to be moved upstairs to the ICU. His fate, at this point still seemed murky. It was difficult to determine how much communication he was capable of between the heavy sedation and the roadblock of intubation. For the next few hours we just went in and out of his room, getting him settled, trying to gauge the severity of his brain injury. Trying to shake off our Sophie’s Choice ordeal that was still haunting all of us. We was a little more awake now; Erica and her husband Andy (I told you, not now) had shown up and we all went into his room in shifts, two at a time. It was quickly determined that not only was Dad awake, he was aware of what was going on, he knew everyone who had come in to visit. In short, he was the same man as he had been that morning before the fall! We did not know what, if any, effects to his motor function had been suffered but we could breathe a little bit easier knowing that Dad was, from what we could tell, still Dad.

The other visitors trickled out of the ICU, leaving me, my brother and his wife. We decided food and whiskey were in order….okay they decided food was in order, I decided whiskey was in order. After whiskey and poutine and fried pickles and buffalo wings and tater tots or as I like to call it, grief’s smorgasbord, we went back to the hospital. I fell asleep for a little while on the fold-out chair. I woke up around 1 am and decided there wasn’t anything else I could do. I went home.

The next day he was off the respirator and breathing on his own. He was fully awake and aware, all in all, himself, that is to say he was ornery, cussing at the nursing staff and bitching about not being able to pee (he a tube up his pee-hole so he was able to pee just not in the earthy and satisfying way he wanted to).

The next few days were strange. We were still coming down off the high of knowing that Dad was not, as predicted, going to be a vegetable, but the road ahead of him was still roughly cobbled and dimly lit. On Friday evening he was moved out of the ICU which we all viewed as an immensely positive turn of events. His Mother and Sisters had come up California on Thursday (alerted and alarmed since we were told he was most likely going to be a shell of his former self); we spent the better part of Thursday assuring them that we did not jump the gun in calling them and that the night before we were told that his brain injury was most likely going to kill him because by the time their flight had landed on Thursday morning his brain injury had been all but forgotten.

Despite his ability to shake off an enormous blood clot on his brain as if it were nothing more than a hangnail he still had his heart to worry about. He struggled to breathe normally, exacerbated by the fact that the chest compressions from all the CPR he had endured on Wednesday had left his ribs deeply bruised making it nearly impossible for him to draw a deep breath or cough.

He was moved back into the ICU on Saturday night/early Sunday morning because of trouble breathing. I went down to the hospital on Sunday before I had to work. He had not been intubated, thankfully, but he was wearing an oxygen mask or bi-pap but he was able to talk while wearing it and able to take it off at times. My brother, his wife and I sat in Dad’s room for hours, joking and laughing, sometimes with Dad and sometimes at him; Ian (my brother) worked on RC car body he was preparing to paint, Kayrn (his wife) played a puzzle game on her phone and joked with me while I sketched in one of my many books. At one point Dad suggested that a unicorn I had drawn on the whiteboard hanging up in his hospital room should “shove its horn up the nurse’s ass”. It was a beautiful day outside and the room had huge, south-facing windows and was flooded with light. I helped my Dad drink soda and told him what his oxygen saturation levels were when he obsessively asked every 74 seconds. When I had to leave for work around 4 in the afternoon I hugged him and kissed his forehead and told him that I loved him and that I would see him the next day.

hospital white board 1

*********************************************************************

I started writing this on Sunday night and it was supposed to be a story about how my Dad beat the odds, refusing to succumb to the grim predictions of the neurosurgeon who said he was going to be a vacant invalid for his remaining days, if, in fact he had any days remaining at all.

My Dad passed away yesterday morning just before 6 am.