Who will see me graduate?

My husband and I were talking, and he said, “I hope your father lives to see you graduate.” This sounds morbid, but my father has some sort of progressive dementia and we’re not sure how long this will go on. He certainly won’t be able to be there when I graduate. I don’t think my mother could get him on a plane even now without a great deal of trauma to both of them. I told Steve I’ll count myself lucky if he lives to see me admitted.
But I realized that it may well be like The Moth and the Star . My father has already imagined that doctors have told him that I’ll have no trouble getting into med school because of my high IQ, and that I’ll easily make $300,000 a year. Even if he doesn’t see me graduate, the time will come when he thinks I’m already a doctor. He’s already so proud of me. I am so glad I decided to tell my family what I’m up to (I didn’t have to; I still have my job and am taking prereqs in my spare time). After his initial fear that the student loans would wipe me out, he made up this high income fantasy and feels much better.
I don’t begrudge my father his happy fantasies. There was a time when he only had fearful ones–all his life, really, even before the dementia. But it’s still a little sad.
Nothing I’m sitting up nights worrying about, nor need help with. I just wanted to say it.

Hi Denise,
My father always said that I would be a physician. When I was 5 years old, he gave me a toy “doctor’s bag” as a Christmas present. (Keep in mind that I come from a family where I am the tenth physician so medicine is the family business.) It might have had something to do with my careful dissection of chicken livers and hearts or my love of watching him field dress a deer so I could examine the left-over viscera.
I have to admit that I was clearly engrossed with figuring out how living things worked. That engrossment brought me into Analytical Chemistry and graduate school in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. My father lived to see me as a bench scientist but died before I even applied to medical school.
When I walked across that stage and picked up my diploma, I suspect that he was looking in and laughing at me because he called it correctly 46 years ago. He said that I would be a physician and he correctly picked that I would be a surgeon. Maybe it’s his good will that keeps me going through those 7-hour operations.
Your father will be close by, in spirit, if not in person, when you get your diploma. Even though my father died in 1994, I feel that he has never left me. My mother is still living and I hear her voice whispering in my ear constantly, especially when I am getting dressed in the morning: “Are you going out of the house looking like that?”
When it comes to parents, I really “lucked out” and got two good ones. Sure, they have their warts but I would not be here today without them. My father with that constant sparkle of pride and encouragment in his sky-blue eyes and my mother with her constant prodding for me to start each day better than the day before. “Accomplish something day,” she would prod, " And remember that I love you sweetie.".

Hey Denise, your post title/question sure piqued my interest. The month before I began medical school, my mother was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, grade IV. Initially she was considering intensive high-dose chemotherapy, and I talked to my Dean of Students about the possibility of deferring admission for a year if my mom needed me. At the same time, I knew from my quick internet research that the median survival for Mom’s cancer was three years…
So I was torn: postpone graduation for a year so I could be with her through all her stuff, but risk graduating too late for her to see it?
When that dilemma crystallized in my mind I determined that I would do my damnedest to BOTH be there for my mom AND get into school so I could get OUT of school, hopefully while she was around. And fortunately she ended up in a different treatment program that, while difficult, wasn’t as awful as she’d anticipated. I wasn’t nearly as much help to her as she went through it as I would have liked to be, due to school (and you know how moms are, “Oh no I’ll be fine, you have schoolwork to worry about!”), but thankfully she survived through that, and enjoyed a remission for awhile.
This past fall she relapsed and went back into treatment - not nearly as toxic as last time and she is doing OK. Barring something awful and cataclysmic, she will be there to see me walk across the stage on May 16. And we’ll just take it from there.

Thanks, both of you.
It’s been an odd few years with my father, as the family realized that he’s actually had paranoid fantasies all his life, which explains a lot of little incidents from years and years ago. It’s paradoxical, because while being cynical and paranoid in spots, he’s also the kindest man I know. My father has always shown me how proud he is of me, even when my choices have disappointed him (he was convinced that my undergrad major ruined my life, for example).
Now that he’s on meds and his fantasies are happier, both my mother and I are genuinely happy for him. The world he lives in has always varied slightly from the world the rest of us live in, but now it’s a happier world instead of a cynical, worried, and sad one. And I do take comfort in knowing that, even if he’s not with us more than a few more years, even if he doesn’t know who we are, he’ll still be proud.

Although there is some sadness in these posts, they are so touching. People often say that pursuing medicine is a selfish goal and often a lonely one. It seems that for many people, certainly me, it would not be possible if not for the support and love of those who believed in us before we believed in ourselves. Sometimes we’re the last to come around…anyhow, both of my parents are living and they have been so wonderful through my two professional undertakings. It makes me sad to think that just when they thought I was settled, I am uprooting it all for my post-bacc, probably med school and residency and beyond and heading out to another city - not my home. My biggest fear is that in the years I will away, their health may decline and I wonder if I’m missing out on their healthy years, but I am mortal too, and I only have so many years to accomplish these goals. But I am so close to my family that I know I will make it back to them.