Monday, December 3, 2012

My Dad's In The Hospital

My Dad has been in the hospital for five days now. He has heart palpitations that haven’t responded well to several medications. My brother, two sisters and I have taken turns sitting with him. I have been with him last each night, so I see him after a long day of hospital drudgery. Some nights have been better than others, for him and me.

I arrive around 7:30. He never fails to smile at me as I walk in. He looks tired. I tidy up his covers, get him something to drink and ask him about his day. He tells me that he had a good day. Every day is a good day. He hesitates to provide anything that sounds like a complaint. He speaks glowingly of his nurses. He tells me that he got a visit from Chuck Ward or Mark Becton, and what a blessing they were to him. He tells me about the food and that it isn’t very good, but it’s OK because Linda brought him some homemade soup and Paula snuck in some wonderful cookies.

When he tries to tell me a story he forgets his words, then apologizes for being so forgetful. My heart breaks a little that he feels the need to apologize. We watch Huckabee. He loves that show. Tonight Huckabee isn’t there and there is a pretty blond in his place. Dad informs me that she is Dana Perino, who used to be President George Bush’s press secretary. Dad likes her because she is very smart, and pretty too. He listens intently to a story about very bad parents. He can’t imagine how any father would provide kegs of beer for his sixteen year old son’s birthday party. “What’s this world coming too?” he asks me.

I watch the night nurse come in to give him his medicine. She is perky and smiles a lot. She gently places each pill in his mouth and then gives him ginger ale. There are so many pills. She is very patient, and jokes that she should probably have given him the sleeping pill last since he might fall asleep before he makes it through all his pills. Dad smiles.

After Huckabee is over Dad struggles with the remote and finally asks me just to turn the television off. We sit in silence for a few minutes. Finally he tells me what a good job his kids have done taking care of him since Mom passed away.

We go through our nightly ritual when it’s time for him to go to sleep. I turn out the light and tell him I love him. I pull the curtain and then shut the door to his room. He’s right across from the nurses station and he tells me that they talk too loud. Sometimes he feels like yelling out to ask them to be quiet, but that would be rude. I walk down the long hallway towards the elevator past rooms with open doors. Terribly sick men and women, all of them alone. There’s a portrait of former Governor John Dalton right next to the elevator. Every time I pass it, I become irritated for some reason. Is there no place on earth where we can escape politics?

I arrive at my car in the mostly empty parking lot and sit there in silence for a few minutes. I think about my Dad and marvel at what kind of life he has lived. After losing his wife of 65 years and after five days in a hospital bed, he still finds things to laugh about and still finds people to be thankful for.

“What kind of day did you have Dad?” I ask him.

“A good day, I had a good day,” he answers.