I was brought up in Los Angeles and always dreamed of being a Hollywood star. I went to university and studied television and was one of the very few lucky ones to actually get a job in that business and to make a good living.
Why I mention that is because, in show business, we have a saying, "The only way you'd ever miss a live broadcast or performance is a death in the family.... And that death had better be yours!"
In the early nineties, I was the host of the most popular late night music and talk radio show in Tokyo. One day, I received a call from my wife. She was sobbing. She told me that my mother had died earlier that day in a car accident.
The world stopped. I didn't know what to say. I still don't.
Nevertheless, the show must go on. I went to my program that night and I did an excellent show. No one knew how sad I was. And I did that for every night from then on too...
That's what the difference is between a professional and an amateur.
I guess I am not a professional blogger yet. I have missed three or four days of blogging.
On Saturday morning I received a call that my father was being removed from life support and, if it didn't kill him, he would be sent home on hospice. I was asked to come to America immediately. My wife was sobbing when she told me this news.
I didn't want to come to the USA, but my wife convinced me that, just this one last time, I must.
My father and the kind lady he has been staying with for over 15 years are very old. They are both past 80. They have no Internet connection. I was expecting that a dear old friend of mine would be here. She lives close by and has an Internet connection. I was counting on using her connection to blog everyday.
I couldn't. She had gone off to Mexico. There's no way for me to access the Internet here.
Do you realize how difficult it is to find any sort of information without an Internet? I opened the Yellow Pages and searched. I couldn't find anything.
That's OK. From what I understand, the Yellow Pages are now notorious for being useless.
As I said, my dad and the lady he lives with are over eighty. They have no Internet. They do, though, have the TV on constantly. The TV is like a window into the past. There's so much absolutely crap on TV it is nearly unbearable. A house with no Internet and just TV is like living in the 1960's - and no, it's not retro and it's not cool. It is driving me mad. I have to get out of here.
I will write about how there are still pockets of resistance to the Internet in the world today and how these pockets are filled with handicapped, poor or retired people; and how TV is trying, but failing, to survive on this audience in a few days when I get back to Japan, but, for now, I must hurry and return to their house as I am needed there.
The following is excerpts from a message I wrote my partner in business about the situation here. Perhaps you can read this and, by understanding the above, see why I haven't posted on my blog. This is not an excuse, just I want everyone to know this as I reckon most people might go through a similar experience... Hopefully not soon.
Dear Rick (not his real name):
It is Thursday 9/1. I have driven what seems like 10+ minutes to a Barnes & Noble store to use a computer (I think this is the only place around here). So I wanted to catch up as much as I can.
This situation where my dad is staying is terrible. The lady my dad has been living with for 15 + years and my brothers do not talk to each other directly so everything is royally messed.... Probably much my own fault.
My dad can't do anything by himself. He can't stand up, sit down, walk, take off his clothes. Unbutton his shirt? Can't do it.......He can't urinate by himself so he is wearing a device called a catheter (sp?) and can't really go anywhere.
There's a million and one things wrong and things he can't do.... Things that he could do just a year ago or so. It is amazing how fast they deteriorate. When I arrived and walked in the door, he looked like he was already dead like one of those near death people you see in those old films of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Every night he coughs uncontrollably and cannot sleep well. When he is awake, he hiccups all the time. After he eats, only soft food of course, he feels like throwing up. For 2 of the 4 nights I have been here I expected him to die any moment. And would not have been the least bit surprised if he did.
Every second word out of his mouth is "I'm dying!" I thought about calling an ambulance twice but then found out that when someone signs up for hospice, they cannot call an ambulance nor go to the hospital anymore.
I can't describe how bad this is. Thank god my older brother is there handling this situation with a calm and cool head otherwise this would be a complete disaster.
I thought the lady my dad has been staying with all these years was having a nervous breakdown last night because she got extremely angry at me for simply passing on a message from the nurse. "WTF!? I'm just telling her what the nurse asked me too and she's yelling at me?" She continued to berate me and talk down to me, complaining about the nurses and help that's coming to the house and my brothers and how poorly may dad treats her, how people talk down to her (maybe that's why she did that to me?) etc. etc., on and on....
She complained about the nurses and how she doesn't want them or other strangers in her house, but I cannot see how she can handle this situation by herself.
On the one hand, she says that she can't handle the situation. On the other hand she says she can (she has for 6 months!)... She is under tremendous stress.
When she began to get angry at me, at first I was offended, then I soon realized that this women is close to having a breakdown so I thought it best that I shut up and let her talk. (I also realized that she had already started drinking so I shouldn't comment or ask too many questions). Then she started smoking cigarettes and continued drinking much more....(I had never seen her smoke before!)...
Then, after 4 hours of drinking and smoking she was visibly drunk (never seen her drunk before either). She then switched between anger and sobbing and crying and spilling her heart out to me. She went on about how when she was a nurse long ago but she didn't have enough empathy for people and didn't care for her husband enough... Her husband died of cancer many years ago... She wished she could have done more...
This went on for a few more hours until she seemed to get tired.
Finally, I realized the true gravity of this situation. They say that when someone in a family gets a serious illness, like, say, cancer, everyone in that household gets cancer. Well, I think it must be true.
My dad is extremely sick and near death... But everyone is this household is extremely sick. At least my father knows he is sick. The lady he is staying with doesn't realize the extent of her illness.
I have to leave here soon or this will make me sick too. Anyhow, I'm leaving on Sunday. It will be good to be back in Japan.
I will blog again, at least by Sept. 6, when I get back to the 21st century and away from this time machine into the past that I have slipped into.
In the meantime, please don't forget to hug your kids and hug your parents.