My father is a liar. Natural, born. He just tells lies like it’s second nature to him. My whole life, he has lied to my sister and me, lied to my mother, and lied to himself. Not with malicious intent, mind you. He just tends to say stuff that covers his ass, or even just paints his ass in a better light. But his prolonged practice of fabulation has had an unexpected result: He has actually mistaken his great accumulation of falsehoods for fact.
When I was a kid, I had no idea my dad was ever fibbing. But he should have given my teenage powers of observation a little more credit. Also, being told by him to lie about certain stuff to traffic officers, neighbours, and even my mother, was a big tip-off. I won’t bore you with the list of his personal offenses against me — suffice to say, it’s long and myriad.
You’ll notice that one of the things I value in life is honesty — it says so right up there in the upper-right corner of this page. So his lack of it tends to cause a bit of friction between my dad and me. It so happens, I am really furious with him at the moment.
Most recently, it has become clear that my father also lies to his doctor. And lies about experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain when engaging in physical activity. This new collection of deceptions is not exactly harmless — in fact, he ended up in the hospital two weeks ago for 5 days and nights because his doctor finally saw through all the protestations of:
- “I’m fit as a fiddle — I exercise all the time” (curling, golfing in a cart, and playing slo-pitch with a pinch runner don’t count as exercise!)
- “I weigh the same now as when I was in high school” (but then it was muscle!)
- “I don’t have trouble sleeping — I can sleep anywhere, ha ha” (40 years worth of this one, followed by a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea)
- “It’s normal to be red in the face and sweating from getting up to get a glass of water, I just got a little too much sun and got up too fast”
- “I just push through the pain, it’s not serious” (uttered while gasping for air)
- “I don’t need a break going up the stairs” (he needs two breaks!)
This man is so full of it, it’s not surprising that the bubble finally burst. I guess my mother, the enabler, finally decided that she didn’t want to end up widowed just yet and forced him to go to the doctor one afternoon after a day of enduring chest pain and not being able to breathe. Good for her. I don’t know how she made him listen. He is usually supremely convinced of his own analysis and judgment, expert opinions notwithstanding.
So they admitted him, gave him tests and procedures and told him he has three huge blockages, one of which was 99%, two very leaky valves, and a worryingly irregular heartbeat. They gave him a stent, and sent him home. Now he is on tons of meds and has to lose 25 lbs and follow a very restricted diet. But he was “just fine” the day before!
Now that he’s home safely and under the care of physicians and following a treatment plan, I feel free to admit that I am absolutely incensed by this event. Maybe it’s still inappropriate to be mad at your ailing father, but damn it! Why didn’t he just listen to us years ago? Decades ago? I am really mad at him for doing this to himself, because he’s not just doing it to himself, he’s doing it to my mother and his whole family.
My mother sounds almost happy when she talks about my dad’s health now — it’s relief. Because she doesn’t have to be responsible for convincing him he needs medical attention anymore. Now he’s got to listen to the doctors. She’s off the hook. Of course, she’s also relieved that he’s relatively fine. But mostly, she’s relieved that she doesn’t have to go head-to-head with a stubborn, sick man who is “as healthy as a horse.” And who is so determined to cover up any evidence that he’s not.
You can tell when people are lying to you, right? I can. Maybe I’ve become an expert at spotting it due to spending so much time growing up in the company of such a consummate teller of untruths. I don’t know why people bother. Don’t they know it’s obvious they’re lying?
Other lies that will soon have to be faced:
- “Your mother doesn’t have a problem with her memory, she’s just getting forgetful, confused, and easily frustrated by simple tasks because she’s getting older.”
- “I don’t need open heart surgery.”
Ummm, Dad …
Noun 1. A tubular support placed temporarily inside a blood vessel, canal, or duct to aid healing or relieve an obstruction
I hope, for everyone’s sake, he’s telling the truth this time. But apparently he has an appointment with a cardiac surgeon in a few weeks.