Anxiety and The Heart

This morning I awoke and felt relieved to hear my father’s voice. It’s strange, because throughout my life his voice has triggered anxiety. The anxiety would lead to checking myself, taking stock of what I was doing to make sure that he wouldn’t tell me to stop and “do something more constructive.” That anxiety is with me today, regardless of where his voice is, making sure I read and read. Today I’m grateful for it.

In the last year my father has had two heart attacks. Yesterday he told me that his doctor said he might need a pacemaker, but that he wouldn’t get one. “I know it sounds silly, but I just won’t do anything like that.” Yesterday I cried into my book, but not for the character with breast cancer she won’t treat.

Recently, two New York State Troopers have hung themselves. There’s intrigue and political scandal. These two men were to be investigated, and it was too much for them to bear. What could be so terrible? My understanding of the situation is fuzzy, but this news going on in the background makes the situation of my father’s health more urgent.

The New York State Troopers and the justice system in New York State are responsible for my father’s ailing heart. In 2004, he had been working for them for 19 years and 10 months. He was fired for forging an oil change receipt that would have saved my family $19,000 on fixing a broken car. An inexcusable stupid action, but no criminal charges were brought against him, and a panel of his peers ruled for a 60-day suspension. The superintendent at the time decided to fire him instead. He would not be able to use his accrued time to compensate for his final two months and receive his pension. He challenged this, and won his case unanimously. These judges ruled that my father’s punishment was “shocking to one’s sense of fairness.” The day that ruling came through was the only happy one in my house in the past 4 years.

But the State Police appealed, and won. There are few other avenues of recourse. The heart problems began. Now my father works more than anyone should, but certainly more than someone with heart problems should.

He has told me stories about numerous other officers of color who have been fired over the years on specious charges. We read news articles about New York state employees who receive their pensions despite criminal charges. The Troopers seem to be imploding with scandals of politicians’ creation. I stress, every day, that, among other things, I won’t be able to give my dad Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy for Father’s Day.

But I’m happy, not anxious, to hear his voice. It’s something.

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