It’s funny, the stupid crap you think about when faced with something like hearing that your father has cancer. When my mother told me that my father has prostate cancer, I thought about my showerhead, which had recently broken and which I was hoping my father would fix for me. As she was explaining the situation to me, I thought, “What am I going to do about the showerhead now?,” as if my father’s handyman abilities are the only reason I have loved him and the only thing I would miss if he were gone.
I am sure a simple psychological explanation exists: something to do with the showerhead’s being tangible and controllable, while the idea of my father’s suffering through illness, the pain this would cause my family, life without him – all of those were unfathomable and incomprehensible.
I knew this intellectually, but it still felt strange to be thinking about the showerhead. Even as I was thinking about it, I was also thinking, with a bewildering meta-consciousness, “Why are you thinking about the showerhead? That is so strange, since your father has cancer.”
Prostate cancer, apparently, is slow-moving and non-aggressive. That, at least, is what my mother has told me and I’ll have to believe her because I’m not Googling it. A few weeks ago, I pulled some muscle in my leg and after five minutes on the internet I was convinced my foot was going to fall off. When my anxious nature mixes with my inherent morbidity, everything’s a goner.
The showerhead still actually worked; it spewed water in a gushing stream, but it was functioning. So it was several weeks before my father came to my apartment to help with that and some other repairs.
In the meantime, my father had been having tests and considering options. He said he felt fine and laughed about some of the procedures he’d undergone. He grumbled a bit about having to give up milk chocolate.
In the meantime, I thought about my showerhead. Then I thought about my blinds, now impossible to open because the string had snapped off.
My father and I actually made two trips to the hardware store the day he came to fix my broken things: the first to buy the new showerhead and the second to return it. When he began to take apart the showerhead, he discovered that the replacement wouldn’t work: something about male and female threads and old pipes. No stores nearby had anything compatible with my set-up.
So, at the end of the day, my old showerhead was back in place, charging water at me in a harsh, non-adjustable, rapid rush. I didn’t care much, though. It may be a little broken, but for now, it works. It pumps hot water into my cold apartment, and that’s all that matters.