Thursday, November 3, 2011

a loss in appetite (lyn)

My dad is back in the hospital.  He has an infection, although my mom thinks he should be home soon.  This once robust man has had a difficult year.  He was 88 in September, and his age has caught up with him.  In the past year, he has lost his mobility and his appetite. He has become old and frail.

It would be great if you could program yourself to lose your appetite for a few days each week when you are trying to lose weight.  But to lose it completely is a horrible thing.

In 2006, I lost my interest in eating for about four months.  Everything I put in my mouth tasted like sandpaper.  I forced myself to eat, because I knew I needed to.  I remember buying spinach because it was good for me.  I remember eating, but not tasting it.  I remember going out to dinner at Charlie's in Buzzards Bay with Alexander and my parents.  I wanted nothing on their very large and varied menu.  My father got angry and told me I had to order something.  I got a plain hamburger with no bun.  I chewed and swallowed, tasting only texture.  I remember going our for Chinese food with Valerie, Abbey, and Abbey’s mom one summer night in Long island.  I pretended to enjoy the meal.  I believe an appetite for food is closely tied to a hunger for other things.  Losing it severely comprises the rest of life’s joys.  I remember going to a street fair in Connecticut with my friend Julie.  My stomach growled to signal hunger.  I grabbed a slice of pizza and sat on a sidewalk curb to eat it, wondering if I would ever taste life again.

I think of my dad and I feel sad.  He used to love shrimp fra diavolo.  The spicier the better.  And Chinese food was a weekend staple.  A good steak was something he looked forward to, especially smothered in onions and peppers.  A bowl of ice cream, eaten in his chair, in front of the TV while watching a late-night boxing match was a nice finish to his day.   Jewish foods were also a favorite: gefilte fish, lox and bagels, kugel, and brisket.  He preferred the mashed potatoes he made to the ones prepared by my mother; he thought hers were too lumpy.  But he loved my mom’s stuffed veal (who didn’t?).  He drowned his salads in dressing and then liberally seasoned them with pepper. He preferred his salads to be simple:  Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions (I don’t think he's ever even tried an avocado).  My father enjoyed his foods.  But not anymore.  Now food is just something he eats to keep himself nourished.  He sleeps a lot more too.  No more late night fights on HBO.  And the cars he read about and loved?  My mom (with his agreement) recently sold his adored Lexus.  He doesn’t drive anymore so one car is really all my parents need.  My dad hasn’t been in his workshop-basement in a very long time.  That used to be one of his favorite places.  It’s where he fixed anything that needed fixing and where he created gorgeous birdhouses that neighbors and friends coveted.

My dad has lost his desire for food, and with it, so much more. 

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