Monday, December 13, 2010
A [more than] Suitable Father
Eleven years ago today, my father passed away after a lengthy battle with congestive heart failure. Dec.13th, 1999 -- just before the New Millennium arrived.
And so it is that I cannot help but help think of him tonight, and how, in so many ways, he was the most loving and selflessly generous person I have ever known.
The passing of years do not diminish that fact.
A while back now, I read a A Suitable Boy written by the Indian author, Vikram Seth. This novel has the distinction of being the longest fictional story ever written in the English language, weighing in at a hefty 1,474 pages.
In it there is a character named Pran, and he is very ill. On page 914 there is the following dialogue between Pran and his doctor (named Imtiaz) and I found it to be very illustrative of what my own Dad would have been going through…
Dr. Imtiaz says:
“There’s an intimate connection between the heart and the lungs; they share the same cavity, and the right side of the heart supplies stale blood to the lungs for it to freshen, to oxygenate, as we say. So when the lungs don’t do their job properly – for instance because of not getting enough air when the air-tubes to the lungs seize up asthmatically – the heart is affected. It tries to supply more blood to the lungs to make up for the bad oxygen exchange, and this creates its own supplying chamber to fill up with blood, to become congested and distended. Do you understand?”
“Yes. You explain things very well,” Pran said sadly.
“Now because of this congestion and distension, the heart loses its efficiency as a pump, and that is what we like to call ‘congestive cardiac failure’. It’s got nothing to do with what laymen understand by the term ‘heart failure’. To them that means a heart attack. Well, as I said, you are not in danger of that.”
“Then why must I stay in bed for three weeks? It seems a terribly long time. What will happen to my work?” [Pran was a teacher].
“Well, you can do a bit of light work in bed,” said Imtiaz. “And later, you can go out for walks. But cricket is out for a while.”
And then, later on down the page, Imtiaz says to Pran:
“If you have congestive heart failure, you will have all the effects of pent-up blood in your system. Your liver will become enlarged, so will your feet, your neck veins will become prominent, you will cough, and you will get very breathless, especially on walking or exertion. And it is possible that your brain might become confused as well.”
When Imtiaz left the room, Pran tried to face these new facts.
I am still not sure if I was ever a suitable son, but I have no doubt… mine was much more than a suitable father.
The --> Story.
The --> Poem.