Intimations Of Mortality

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.   

- WORDSWORTH, Ode: Intimations Of Immortality

My Dad may have prostate cancer. He is undergoing exploratory surgery tomorrow. Preliminary testing has revealed nodules on the prostate and elevated PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) in the urine.

My sister rang me to tell me, relishing her role of keeping the family together. I ignored the covert nature of her glee, becoming quite upset after she had rung off. Whatever has happened, whatever will happen, I love my Dad and I want him to be OK. I was so mad that she was gloating about the fact that she knew all about the cancer scare and I didn’t. I mean, does everything have to be a power play? Enough, already.

I rang my Dad straight away. My hands were shaking. I couldn’t remember the phone number. I have been ringing that number for ten years and I couldn’t remember the bloody thing when I really needed to. I had to look it up in my address book – me – who remembers every single number of my nearest and dearest off by heart.

I was so nervous he would be angry with me or hang up on me I croaked at him like an old hag. I felt like I’d just had a shot of novocaine. I was numb and uncoordinated. He cried when I called. He had thought that I wouldn’t care. He admitted that he has been unfair, that he has been treating me badly. He praised me for always trying to do the right thing, regardless of how my actions might be received.

It was a relief. It was sad. It was sobering to speak to a man who might be about to begin the journey of staring his mortality in the face.

When I was a kid I thought my Dad was a superhero. He could do anything, fix anything. He never let anything bad happen. And he knew so much about the world and its goings-on. I thought my Dad was immortal when I was a kid. I couldn’t imagine this earth without him on it. I still can’t.

During the phone call I had glimmerings of the way it used to be between us. Me and my Dad. It felt like it would be easy to latch on to that old rapport. Can you imagine anything as heinous as cancer being the thing that pushes people back together, that glues together the fractured pieces in a relationship?

I hope my Dad doesn’t have cancer but I do hope that today was a fresh start for us. That we can live through this intimation of his mortality and begin again.

24 thoughts on “Intimations Of Mortality

  1. Oh I am so sorry…you guys are going though this scare and I pray it goes well. I am SO glad your father told you that — no matter what the future holds — I am so glad he told you that.

    My fingers crossed, prayers being said….


  2. You BOTH did the right thing. You put aside your hurt to be with your dad when he needed you the most and he put aside his pride to admit his wrongdoings and apologise.

    Somethings life is mysterious the way it works and hopefully this is just a scare to make things better between you all.

    I hope your dad is given the all clear Selma, you are all in my thoughts. xxx


  3. I’m so glad you reconnected with your dad, even if it took something like this to make it happen. Isn’t that so often the way, though? But have hope…my dad had prostate cancer about 5 years ago and all is well. Even if the report isn’t good, it doesn’t mean it has to be awful in the long run. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you all.


  4. Oh, Sel, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s possible illness. …though I’m relieved and hopeful that you were able to reconnect in such a deep way during such a fragile time.

    I, too, have heard many stories of recovery from prostate cancer, so if that does come to be the diagnosis, nothing is set in stone.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you both. xoxo


  5. Yes, I relate. Went through this with my Dad. I hope it ends better with yours than it did with mine. And you may not have to walk down that road – it may not be cancer. Let’s hope not.

    The best I could do was not think about it 24/7 and pray and hope. In the end, I think it turned out the best, even though it is hard. Sending you all the peace I can…


  6. Having just returned from visiting my own aging parents, I strongly relate to what you are feeling. I’m so glad you two were able to chat and get things heading in a more positive direction.

    Sending strength and healing to you and your dad.

    P.S., LOTM had a similar scare a few years ago and all was well (although he still has to have his checked regularly to make sure everything is still fine).


  7. I hope it’s not cancer, but as far as cancers go it’s one of the treatable ones.

    I’m glad you called him. I’m glad there is a bit of raprochement…



  8. I hope your dad doesnt have cancer, that’s awful news. I am so happy to read though that you had a good talk and cleared the air. Sounds like there is hope….

    Many hugs Sel, take care dear.


  9. aw, selma, you are far too cool to have so many unfortunate situations peppering yr life. add my voice to the others that i hope yr dad is okay and that yr relationship is all the better for what i am truly hoping is just a “cancer scare”. all best –


  10. Selma….I am in the exact place you are right now, waiting to hear about my Dad’s test results. Our relationship has been strained over the last couple of years, but the conversations have somehow altered….. and we’re talking about feeling stuff and important stuff rather than avoiding it, which always leads to silences.

    I hope your father doesn’t have to face cancer. I hope my Dad doesn’t either. It’s all very frightening….. and too darn REAL.

    take care…. will be thinking of you.



  11. I’m so sorry to hear this, Selma.

    I hope for the outcome that will allow you the opportunity to heal things between you, and set you on a path that finds you both good with each other for many years to come.



  12. Hi Selma – so glad your Dad behaved with maturity (cos sometimes they behave like kids, don’t they?) My relationship with my parents got sort of back on track when my Mum’s cancer came back and I cherished those times, even though there were still bad, maddening times as well. It was wonderful to be hugged by my Dad after many years of non-communication, and to feel like a child again, if only for a few moments. I hope it goes well for you too.


  13. I hope everything turns out for the best, and, thank God, I was relieved to read that he responded to you in a positive way.


    Me too. It makes the thought of what may come more bearable. It makes such a difference to know we can bury the hatchet.

    Thanks for saying that. I think we both did too. It was a relief. I was so nervous to call him, but I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t. Illness has a way of highlighting what’s important. I’m glad we could both see that!

    It’s true – sometimes the only way to get to the good is to experience the bad. I really appreciate your kind thoughts.

    I’m really glad you mentioned what happened to your Dad. I have heard that prostate cancer can be quite treatable. I am really glad your Dad is well.

    It was wonderful to be able to reconnect. It has made such a difference to my state of mind. Who would have thought something like this would be an instrument for change? Life throws us some curved balls sometimes, that’s for sure.


    Thanks for that peace. If the diagnosis is cancer I will actively try not to think about it 24/7. When my friend, Andie, died of breast cancer two years ago I actually made myself quite ill worrying about it. I wanted to fix her but I couldn’t. It was an extremely difficult, bitter pill to swallow. I will be there to support my Dad in any way possible, taking each day as it comes.

    I’m really glad LOTM is well. What a fright it must have given you. It is hard to see your parents age, isn’t it? Quite sobering in some ways. Thanks for the healing thoughts.

    Oh, me too. I still can’t get used to gladness and hope blooming from the seeds of potentially bad news, but I will take it in whatever form it comes. ‘Raprochement’ – the French always say everything so well. Sounds so much better than English!

    I think there is hope in more ways than one. It is indeed good to know the air has been cleared!!

    I really appreciate your prayers. They mean a lot.


  16. JASON:
    How kind you are. These stresses happen to all of us at some time. Such is life, I guess. Cool people like yourself make it easier to bear!

    I am praying for your Dad. It is really good to know you are able to communicate more openly now. You’re right – it is too darn real. It’s an inescapable truth. Thinking of you…

    I am really grateful for the healing vibes. Luff you too XX

    That would be fantastic. I almost wouldn’t be able to believe it. Here’s hoping…..

    Sometimes they do behave like kids. I am so glad you got to reconnect with your parents. It’s true, you do feel like a child again. There is that thought that nothing can harm you. I often long to feel that way again!

    The positive response has been so healing for me. I feel I can cope with anything now!


  17. Selma, I am sooo sorry it took something like possible prostate cancer to open the doors and give the two of you a fresh start.

    My fingers are crossed, and my whole heart goes out to you. I am sending my prayers and positive thoughts your way.



  18. Selma, I really do hope your dad doesn’t have cancer! My mouth dropped open as I was reading it… I freaking hate cancer! I am glad that you were able to patch stuff up with your dad. I will be thinking about you and sending positive vibes – praying your dad doesn’t have cancer.


  19. MELEAH:
    I wish it hadn’t been the threat of cancer that reconciled us but if it’s just a a scare and nothing more then it is actually a blessing. Thank you so much for your kind wishes!!!

    I hate it too. I was shocked as well. I hadn’t expected that at all. Thank you for your prayers!!!


  20. while i am so saddened by the prospect of yet more bad news in your family,, i am glad you and your father had the opportunity to reconnect in a positive way..

    even serious health conditions are not enough to bring my family back together.. when my father almost died recently following aortic valve replacement we were forbidden to come and be at his side.. not just me,, all three of his daughters..

    i fear for the day it will be too late for them to realize the error of their ways,, and take solace in the fact that for me,, those days are gone,, and i am able to love them,, even tho they seem to not want to be loved…

    family is such a strange bird.. sometimes i think we would all be better off if we followed the lead of the animal kingdom and abandoned our young….


  21. PAISLEY:
    It’s so sad that you were forbidden to be with your Dad at that time. I could weep for you. How good you are to still love them. I understand completely because even when my parents were at their worst with regard to the way they were treating me, I still loved them.

    Family is odd. Maybe the animal kingdom does have it right….


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