Months To Years Winter 2019 Months To Years Winter 2019 - Page 25

“He’s become a two-person assist,” she says. What “No, he’s not,” I tell her, equally softly, “We’re she means is that Dad can’t get out of a chair giving him medication for that.” without two people at his side physically lifting his body into a standing position. Unfortunately, the I call my sister. Annie and Mark are just small facility normally has just one caregiver per beginning a vacation. They’ve been in Mexico less shift. than 24 hours. “I can’t risk injury to my staff,” she says. “You’ll “Ah, jeez,” she says, “how long do you think?” have to find a new place for him.” “I don’t know. The caregivers tell me days or a I gulp some air and swallow past the ball lodged week. Nobody knows. You told me you wanted to in the bottom of my throat. “Nursing home, I be here, so I called. He’s still conscious.” guess.” “Ah jeez,” she repeats, and a day later walks into If I know anything about what’s left of my dad I Dad’s room. know he will fear change. He feels safe here. The owner nods. Her eyes glisten. She knows, too. He rolls his head to one side and a smile lights up his face. A real smile. The first one I’ve seen in a Three days later, the owner calls: “Your Dad’s had long, long time. “ a stroke. He’s bedridden.” She sounds almost happy. “We can take care of him now.” She tells “Hi sweetheart,” he says. me there’s no hurry, but I need to sign a different care plan. Annie gives me the look that only sisters give each other when one wants to kill the other. “We need “He’s conscious,” the owner said. “The doctor came to talk,” she says, jerking her head to the door. and prescribed sublingual morphine.” Outside, under gray, weeping skies, Annie and She answers one of my many questions as soon Mark hover around me like birds of prey. as I arrive. The morphine is dripped under the tongue on a scheduled basis to keep Dad free of “Ask anybody – that’s the first time he’s talked pain – the pain of his organs shutting down. He since the stroke!” can’t swallow; he can’t eat; he can’t drink. We return to Dad’s room. He smiles again, the I call Harold and Fran. “If you want to come visit way a baby smiles when you dangle something again, now is the time.” pretty and shiny in front of its face. A bright watery light flares in his eyes. He turns his head “No” and “No” is their reply. to look at the picture on the wall next to his bed - the picture of my sis and I, five and six years old, “You agreed to withhold tube feeding, right?” in matching blue corduroy jumpers and yellow short-sleeve sweaters. They say “Yes” and “Yes.” My aunt adds softly, “He’s not in pain, is he? I can’t stand to think of Annie and I look at each other, palming away him in pain.” tears. 25