When my phone buzzed just before 5 a.m. Monday morning, I knew it was someone from my family back East since they never consider the time zone difference when texting. (The flood of annual 4 a.m. texts makes for something other than a happy birthday.)
Half asleep, I fumbled for my phone and sure enough, it was my mom. The text—which she somehow duplicated to come through twice, classic mom—read, “Dad’s in recovery, everything went well!”
Great, I thought as I put the phone down and attempted to enjoy another five minutes of sleep before my alarm went off. That’s a relief.
In a familiar scenario as it pertains to my family, I had no idea what my mom was talking about. Did my dad just have surgery? What kind of surgery? Did I know about this? I definitely did not know about this. Was it all a dream?
Granted, it had been more than a week since I had spoken to my parents, but I felt like I would have remembered if, when we last spoke, they had mentioned that my dad was, ya’ know, going under the knife. Of course, the running joke is that my parents will run the gamut of useless information during conversations—what appetizer they shared at the restaurant; the status of the new roof construction at their local church; the time, date and location of the upcoming root canal of their next door neighbor (maybe I could send a card)—and somehow avoid dispensing information that could be considered a crucial part of family dialogue. I could talk to my dad for 45 minutes about who the Yankees should play at third base, and then I’ll talk to my sister the next day and she’ll say, “So I guess dad told you I started my own company … ”
I texted my mom back, “That’s great, but ummm … recovery from WHAT?”
She responded, “Remember he had the fissure in his behind?”
If I could tangibly capture, embrace, and have bronzed the one thing that most accurately encompasses life in the Kenny family, it would be the words, Remember he had the fissure in his behind? received pre-dawn on a Monday morning. The oldest living Kenny would hold onto these words, keeping them in a hidden location in a fireproof box, and then symbolically pass them down to the next generation of Kennys from his/her deathbed.
She continued, “Dad said we must have told you when the kids were arguing in the back seat, haha! Anyway, he’s fine, pain hasn’t kicked in yet, he’ll be home for a few days.”
Believe me I have been known to forget important things, especially when they’re told to me over the phone while I’m driving and two girls are singing “On Top of Spaghetti” at the top of their lungs from the back seat, but I still had no recollection of receiving such information. I pictured my dad the previous evening, looking anxiously at his phone and finally saying, “Welp, never heard from Mike to wish me luck on my anal fissure surgery. Guess I’ll turn in and hope for the best tomorrow.” And I felt really bad.
Did I forget/wasn’t listening, or was I never told? It didn’t really matter, I figured, the important thing was that the pain hadn’t kicked in yet. So there was still time?
I called my dad that evening to see how he was doing and to express my regret. I told him there was only one way for me to make it up to him, and that’s to do the only thing I know how to do. “Dad, I’ll write about this. That way everyone will know I didn’t wish you well before your anal fissure surgery, and also that you had anal fissure surgery.” He didn’t respond. The pain had kicked in.
Actually, did I really say that? I don’t remember. Was it all a dream? I guess we’ll find out when he reads this.
Note: This column appears in the 11/14 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/15 issue of the Peoria Times.