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When Should a Parent Tell Their Offspring That Other Parent is Fatally Ill? (therapy, dating)

Posted 01-24-2021 at 06:47 PM by jbgusa


Exactly 45 years ago, 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?


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Grandeur View Post
I have this fear of getting beaten up. Do you ever get beaten up? What serious damages do you gain out of it?
I remember when I was 12 and 13 in Junior High School, now know as Middle School, people used to ask, if John can beat up Peter and Peter can beat up Dan, then surely John can beat up Dan. I came back from sleepaway camp in August 1970 and posed one of those questions to one of my erstwhile friends, who I'll call "Jim H" to distinguish him from me, jbgusa (my first name is "Jim"). Now Jim H. was, ordinarily, hardly a reflective type, and frankly not very bright. His response therefore stunned me. It was "do we really need to figure out who can beat up who? There are better things to discuss." I still consider those words of wisdom, directed at the thread title.

Unfortunately, his reflectivity reflected his mother's serious illness which ended in death that May. And even more unfortunately his reflectivity ended rather fast. He was one of the aggressors in a very bad week at Ski Camp as 1971 bled into 1972. My mother thought he might have something to say to me when my Dad died a year later. I'm still waiting.

Franky I thought my mother did me a disservice when she broke the news, on December 15, 1972 that my father was dying, see When Should a Parent Tell Their Offspring That Other Parent is Fatally Ill? Jim H's father told Jim H. one day before his mother's death that she had metastatic cancer. But I digress. That was about the only smart thing Jim H. has said to me his whole life.
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