4.28.2002

Death of My Father

From my journal, nine months ago...


"How quickly things change...On June 30th, Mom and Dad called. Mom scared. Took Dad to ER. Had heart attack. Released after testing July 4th. On July 13th, second bad attack. This time, the Cardiologist, Dr. Evans, did an angiogram, angioplasty, and echocardiogram. Dad is in ICU with breathing tube, IV feeding him, catheterized, with a blood pump. Also had to have dialysis for awhile. By July 16th, breathing tube removed. Two days now he has slept, moving around and trying to turn this way and that. Who knows what dreams he dreams?

"Mom cried when we drove to the hospital. 'No more Hawkeye and Chingascook...' was all she could say, over and over. In ER, Dad motioned us over to his bedside, saying if he doesn't come out of this, he knows he'll see us on the other side. I'm so glad I took their photos on Saturday, July 7th, as I did. Images of them kidding with each other, smiling at each other, goofing off, holding hands, kissing, or just gazing into the camera naturally.

"As I write this, I am alone in the ICU waiting room except for one solitary woman, and Mom. Mom plays solitaire quietly, across the room on the coffee table. She keeps asking me, when I go over to her, why she's paying two months' rent for the old apartment. I explain we're late this month and we need to give notice. Where are we moving to, she asks. I tell her, but a few moments later, she has forgotten and asks again. 'Oh yes,...where Dad needs to go...' I smile inwardly as the solitary woman leaves us alone.

"Mom remembers enough of a conversation a few days before when we told her and Dad they had to move to a nursing home. Then, I could see Dad's face become relaxed and visibly relieved, knowing finally that someone could be there to help them.

"My ears notice that Mom is whistling as she plays cards. Cards and whistling - how appropriate. Two things burned into my mind from my earliest memories that I associate with Mom.

"I hear Mom moan...she says she has eaten too much, and decides to quit playing cards, and lay down for awhile.

"Sharon and Bill, arriving in the afternoon, are with Bill and Betty running errands.

"The hours as this goes by seem surreal. Time passes differently. You don't acknowledge it. Instead, you ignore it, withdrawing into a safe, emotional cocoon. At one and the same time, you reflect superficially on memories that surface unbidden but don't surprise you, but you never let them manipulate you into giving way to any emotional release. This is your way, you say. Maybe so. Maybe it's just your defense against facing mortality head on instead of intellectually, the way most of us most of the time deal with it, if we deal with it at all..."
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Dad passed away on August 8, 2001...