dad's vituary

This has been a hard week for me. My dad had a heart attack and his brain went without oxygen for 15 minutes. He is brain dead.

I remember him driving us skiing on Saturday mornings, turning off the heat half way up the hill so we could be come “acclimated to the cold.”

Like most children, I love my father very much. But in the past 12 years we have not gotten along. That is my euphemism which seeks to encompass the actual state of our relationship, or lack thereof. He got a second chance at life all those years ago and for various reasons we stopped talking.

I remember sitting by his bedside holding his hand and praying to God that he would live so my brother Montana would get to know him.

That does not mean that I stopped thinking about him or did not miss his presence in my life. I did. I do. A few years ago a work colleague told me that he did not talk to his dad. I felt so sad for him. And then I realized that I did not talk to my dad either.

I remember him driving me and my best friend to school – our first day of high school –with the windows down and Dire Straights’ “Money for Nothing” playing really loud, to embarrass us.

I look a lot like my dad. He looks like a mixture of William Shatner and Fred Flintstone. Once I realized this I told him. He did not find it as funny as I did. But in telling you this I realize I must bear some resemblance to both of those characters as well, since we share the same features.

I remember navigating on our trip across the country and barely rolling into the fuel station on fumes because I was in charge of calculating how far we could go on one tank of gas, and I miscalculated.

I think like my dad as well. He is a critical thinker, largely self educated, and extremely likeable. I don’t know any person when they first meet him who did not immediately fall under his spell. And he can lie really well. I can do the same, though I have sworn it off for the most part.

I remember the time I opted not to take my last ride on his shoulders, preferring to save that last chance until later. I grew too fast to ever use that last ride.

These are the things I know to be true about my dad: He is deathly afraid of spiders. He does not drink because if gives him really bad headaches. He loves flying and Garfield. He is beloved by many people. He loves pepperoni and green pepper pizza. He cannot suffer fools easily. He loves chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake.

I remember he and my mom sewing the ski racing uniforms for my siblings together.

I wondered if the people in his life knew I existed. My photo was no where to be found in his house, save his wallet. I wonder if he told people about me or the kids, my siblings. We are all so successful; John is a pilot married to a great wife; Erica is a mom and a pharmacist; and Montana is a computer scientist also with a great wife. We love each other and support each other and would have given anything to be a complete family again. But please don’t feel that we are not a family, because we are a strong family made up of disparate parts scattered throughout the country.

I remember calling him in college because I could not find my wallet, and he being at his wits end with this eldest daughter and finally explaining to me that he was 2000 miles away and I would have to find the wallet myself.

I regret not having instant messaged with my dad last week when he tried to talk to me. I was busy at work. And I regret not having written his Vituary before he got sick.

I remember waking up to him making us frozen Pepperidge Farms raspberry turnovers on Sunday mornings.

I admire that he lived his life on his terms. He lived out of town because he did not want to be in the city. He decided not to get a pace maker and defibrillator implanted in his chest because he wanted to keep flying gliders. A day before he died he was soaring.

We never finished a conversation without telling each other we loved each other. And I do love him. Very much. And I miss him.


pet worms

This is another piece I wrote for class...it is funnier now...

I woke up around midnight with the thought that my bum was itching and I had no earthly idea why such a thing would be happening because I was up until then unacquainted with my bum.

Now how could that be asks the reader, don’t we all go to the bathroom everyday? And isn’t she part of everybody?

And to the reader I say yes to both questions, with the caveat that my bum and I had a don’t ask, don’t bother me relationship which until now had served us well. But unfortunately, my bum had taken this midnight moment to break our truce.

It was not long after noticing my bum that I realized that our relationship had escalated quickly. My bum needed a lot more of my attention at that moment than I really felt ready to give to it. But to anyone who has ever had an itchy mosquito bite much less an itchy bum you will realize the immediacy of my need to scratch vigorously and find some alternative relief.

We moved into the kitchen, where I scooped a very large glob of white yogurt onto a wash cloth, which I then proceeded, post haste, to sit down on. With the yogurt in place, the itching assuaged for the moment I turned to that great equalizer, the internet, for more information about what could be causing this inconvenience at two in the morning. There, I learned with the help of the masses that three possibilities existed: yeast infection, hemorrhoids, or pin worms.

A yeast infection is a rather common occurrence for women and causes itching in the general “privates area.” And while I had experienced my share of these infections, I tried to convince myself that I did indeed have a yeast infection, mainly because the other two options were unthinkable: hemorrhoids was something only people in commercials ever got and worms coming out of my bum was the only thing I could think of that would be worse than actually having an itchy bum.

I proceeded to read more about the potential worms. Pinworms are often traded among small children who go to kindergarten and the worms live out their lives in the darkest and possibly most un-inviting (unless you are into that kind of thing) part of a human body: your anus. At night the worms leave their cozy abode to come out and lay eggs. This is typically when a person begins to notice that the worms have begun to co-habitate with you in your private areas. Typically children scratch themselves because of the itching caused by the worms and thereby the pinworm eggs find their way under the fingernails of these children. Unless the kids are treated, this cycle continues and often adults working with children also get them.

The fact that my 18-year-old roommate worked at a kindergarten came to mind slowly, as I was falling asleep.

The next morning I wasted no time in calling the English-speaking doctor. Her receptionist only spoke German. Below is my side of the conversation I had with her about my little problems:

“Hi, my name is Nicole Harkin. I am experiencing a minor discomfort in my private area and would like to see the doctor as soon as possible.”

“Um no, three weeks from now will not do. I would prefer to see the doctor about my private privates problem today. Would that be possible?”

“Perhaps I can come in and just wait in the waiting room?”

“I would prefer to talk to the doctor about it.”

Upon arriving at the doctors office and waiting the requisite three hours to see the doctor, I informed her that I had pinworms. As any self-respecting German doctor would do, though, she sent me home not with a prescription, but with a roll of scotch tape. To make sure I actually had pinworms, I was to tape this to my private areas to see if I caught any worms that night while attempting to sleep.

I was less than pleased with this outcome, needless to say. Luckily, about an hour later there was a worm sighting. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice to say I called the doctor’s office as soon as possible and picked up the prescription equally quickly.

The rest of the day was spent washing everything I owned in very hot water, as directed by the internet. I scrubbed the kitchen, and cut my fingernails, very short.

Even now, writing this story, I sometimes notice my bum again, and th en start to get worried that I might be having a re-occurrence. The symptoms are rather like psychosomatic pinworm symptoms.

Luckily, with the prescription the pinworms moved out quickly and my only advice to the reader is to remember to wash your hands very thoroughly, especially if you spend anytime near children or near people with children.