Taking care of my Dad has robbed me of the ability to write anything even vaguely interesting. Before all of this hospital/nursing home business began, I would browse through the news every morning and before long something would jump out at me that I found either hilarious or ridiculous or both. Now, I search for Linda’s latest e-mail update on how Dad’s day went. The news always seems to be bad, and after contemplating what his life has become for ten minutes, nothing in the world seems hilarious anymore.
Yesterday I saw him for the first time in three or four days, I lose count. I have had the flu and had to stay away. I didn’t think it was possible, but he looked even more weak and frail than I remembered. It was one of his bad days, a day where he sleeps all day, unable or unwilling to rouse himself. I got close to his ear and spoke loudly to him in attempt to wake him up. Although he never opened his eyes, he did acknowledge me with several grunted responses to questions I would ask. Every day isn’t like this, but these types of non-responsive days are becoming more frequent.
It’s the oddest thing. Every time I go over there, I feel the need to talk to all of his nurses, to tell them all what an incredible man Dad was, that he hasn’t always been like this. I don’t want them to think of him as a crumpled heap of weakness. I want them to know of his life and great accomplishments. Then it hits me just how ridiculous I’m being. Of course they know that he hasn’t always been like this. Everyone in these beds used to be something greater before. This is their job, to manage what is left of their lives. Still, if I had pictures with me I would be handing them out, “Here’s one of Dad with his Navy buddies holding a 12 foot python they caught inside their Quonset hut in the New Hebrides Islands during WWII,” I would say. They all need to know what kind of life he lived.
When this is all over, I am going to wipe every memory of these past 6 months out of my mind forever. I will not recall these days when I think about my Dad. I will be able to do this because as a human being I possess that most uniquely human quality…the great capacity for self-deception.