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Private Sorrow – Part 4 “With Dad”

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Part 4

With Dad

I brought my luggage inside and deposited everything in the living room. I didn’t know where Mom wanted me to stay. The friends that had stayed with Dad while Mom picked me up, excused themselves and left.

I walked down the long hall to the bedroom. No ‘nursing home’ smells. I was greatly relieved. The bathroom had a handicap frame around the stool. A red wheel chair stood at ready. A folded walker was in the corner. The hospital bed was elevated.

Dad laid there in his favorite blue pajamas. They were a gift from Carlene. His face was hollow. His eyes were sunken greatly into his noble brow. His mouth was kind slack and his upper teeth dropped down looking quite scary.  He smiled. He had recognized me. His hand reached for mine. I took it in mine. I hugged and kissed him. Relief settled over me. Thank you Lord. Even this much is a gift!

Daddy could only speak in whispers. I had to lean over him to hear, and even then I only got parts of what he said.

Daddy perked up. Mom was elated. The table was set for three. Dad wanted to eat with me. He scooted down the hall hanging onto Mom as she walked backwards supporting him. Three times during the meal, dad had to get up and go to the bathroom. His prostate complicated the process. All the trips were unprofitable. He didn’t seem to stay seated but for a few minutes (sometimes seconds) at a time.

The trips back and forth were drawn out and tedious. The result was I ate most of my meal alone. Mom has the patience of Job. Dad is walking today, sometimes even unassisted. “I can’t believe it,” Mom says.

He stands with his shoulders stooped over. His 6’1” frame once stood tall and noble. Now he seems like he’s six inches shorter. The way he slumps when he stands seems uncomfortable and precarious. He shuffles his feet, push one ahead of the other, inches at a time. I hurt looking at him. His expressions seem starry-eyed and distant. His voice is still barely audible.

I have to run to the store down the street. When I get home 20 minutes later, Mom is elated. Dad wanted to pray. Mom had been playing the piano. He’d come up behind her, touching her shoulders, and suggested the have prayer together. Mom said he prayed good and spoke in tongues a good while. She is so happy. “You know, from time to time Daddy says he see angels,” she said.

Daddy sat in his wheelchair facing me. He spoke. He spoke in a whisper. His posture was pitiful. He kept fidgeting and changing his leg positions. He’s uncomfortable and it shows. His deep-set eyes search and finally find me.

He says, “I want to give you a charge.”

I nod and say, “OK Daddy.” I’m straining to catch every word.

“Preach the Word.

“Stay true to this Message.

“Take good care of your

“Mother when I’m gone.

“Take good care of the family.

“Take care of the family car.”

I promised him I would. We embraced. I thanked him and told him I loved him.

I spent my first night in Mom and Dad’s old bedroom.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 9, 2010 at 11:15 am

Posted in Family, Grief, Life

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