My dad’s not doing well.
He’s 84 and his heart is failing. This, along with reduced kidney function have added on to his previous set-backs of diabetes and loss of sight.
He lives two hours away from me and I am trying to visit him every weekend to spend some precious little time with him. But he’s tired now and sleeps most of the time. So my visits consist of a few minutes of conversation with him, then helping him into his bed for more naps.
I am heartbroken at all the times I didn’t visit or even just call him to talk about nothing in particular.
There’s a picture hanging on his wall. It’s a poster sized blow-up of a picture of him and my mom on their honeymoon in 1961 (we lost my mom in the winter of 1987). They’re both young and beautiful, in the prime of their lives. I look at that picture now, and realize that in my mind’s eye, that is how I think of them. I look at my mom in that pic and hope that she is able to ease my father’s last few days, however many they may be.
When I was little my dad worked at a lumber mill in northern California in the Mendocino forests. He was a small but strong man who drove a forklift. Like all fathers, he seemed invincible today me then. But now I realize just how frail we all are in life.
A few years ago, the first dog I owned on my own, Athos, also reached old age and needed to be put down. I recall that at the end he also spent many hours sleeping. I was working at home those last few months and I endeavored to walk quietly as to not wake him as he slept. Still, to the end, he was always the eternally happy puppy we rescued from the pound so many years ago.
So, here I sit, watching my father doze a bit, thinking that some day it may be my son or daughters sitting next to me thinking about that day when I go to sleep and not wake up.
It’s all part of the circle of life, but it hurts nonetheless.