Mudty Relationships: An Essay in Closure - Part 5

This post is part of an 11 part essay that I have written in memory of my father, Tod “Mudty” Eaton, who passed away in August 2018. On this blog, I had previously shared the eulogy I gave at his Celebration of Life, which I think was a meaningful public goodbye to him.  This essay though is a bit more complex and nuanced in drawing out the final days of my father’s passing and how I reconciled his life, his death, and our relationship.  It’s a deeply personal essay that I have spent many hours on for the past year and with the encouragement of kind friends, have chosen to share.  

Additionally, if you feel so moved, I would encourage you to donate to my fundraiser for Care Dimensions, the hospice home that made his final days more comfortable for all of us.  

Part 5: Slipping

Paula, Tod, and Trevor Eaton standing in a row, looking to their right.
Paula, Trevor, and Tod Eaton, circa 2007
Inevitably, amid that waiting and navigating, ugly thoughts flitter into the mind before one can attempt to un-think or redirect them.

Most people carry with them a sense that they are good people. We perceive ourselves as kind. We believe that we will do right when the moment comes. We think that we are our best-selves with our best thoughts.

But our minds are wild things; thoughts and ideas slip through without any control--especially as the days continue, the suffering prolongs, and the exhaustion deepens. These slips reflect only my own faults, frailties, and frustrations. These unfiltered thoughts arrive at different times throughout the ordeal, and I can do nothing about them besides acknowledge the thought has come forth and promptly dismiss it.

Do I have to visit today just to continue to watch him waste away?

Can I just read or play on my phone while visiting to make the time more useful?

Does he have to take so long in answering questions?

Does he have to be so insistent on such irrelevant things like always having the TV on or ordering meals hours in advance?

Does he have to order so much food, because he’s not even going to eat a quarter of it?

Why can’t he communicate in the way that’s easiest for us so we can help him when he needs it?

If he chose this by smoking a pack of cigarettes nearly every day for 65 years, how much empathy does he deserve?

Do I have to make it easy for him since he has made this much harder for us by lying about so many things?

Should he be able to make decisions about care, since we’re the ones who will be doing all the work?

Do I have to touch his frail and cancer-ridden body?

I’m not going to have to hold his piss bucket, am I?

I’m not going to have to wipe him, am I?

Does he deserve dignity if he’s created this situation despite all our warnings?

Do we all have to be here sitting around, waiting for him to die?

At this point, does it even matter if someone is around--he’s not going to know?

Will this be a short process?

Do I want this to go quicker for my sake or for his?

Can I quicken the process?

They are, indeed, ugly thoughts. I can’t excuse them but can only acknowledge that they come and go.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  If you haven't read the essay in full or have missed previous parts, feel free to navigate to other parts from the links below:

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.