“You’re here to protect me,” he said, barely lifting his head. “Yes, Daddy. You’ve been here for me throughout my entire life, and now I’m here for you.” Except I can’t do anything.
I’m beyond wondering whether I’ve said my final goodbye to my dad. I thought I said my final goodbyes when he was in ICU in July, then when he was in the hospice care center the next weekend. After a trip to see his sister, one he really did not need to take, he had to be readmitted to the inpatient hospice. He’s been there for the past 8 days and they can’t seem to regulate his medications, so I treasure every minute that I have with him. We’ve had our challenges over the past 40 years, but he’s been there when I needed him. Now it is my turn to be there for him.
Daddy didn’t know where he was, but he knew he was safe. I was there.
My dad has had difficulty swallowing since he fell in July, but on Saturday he asked for a pecan waffle with honey. The nurse told him he could have soup, that they had no waffles of any kind. He was insistent; he wanted a pecan waffle with honey. I asked her whether she had a toaster, if I could find some at the grocery store. She gave me a disapproving look and said I could probably use the one in the kitchen. My father stated, again, “I want a pecan waffle with honey. I don’t want one from the grocery store.” The nurse patiently tried to explain that the hospice didn’t have any and that he couldn’t eat a waffle. Maybe patiently is a stretch; let’s just say she was polite. She offered yogurt, pudding, or soup. My dad raised his head, and for the first time I got a final glimpse of the man my father once was. “Do you not believe in satisfying your customers?” I burst out laughing then sent my husband to Huddle House for a pecan waffle with honey.
Bob came back with the waffle and the nurse walked out of the room in a huff. I poured the melted butter on it and then squeezed the honey from the packets, as my dad smiled and inhaled the fragrance of the warm pecans and honey. For a few minutes, he was happy. The nurse came in, asked me if I knew what I was doing. I told her I was trying to make my dad as happy as possible, for whatever little bit of time he has left. I knew he could choke but seriously? Shouldn’t he be allowed to enjoy whatever little bit of life he has left? The nurse scowled and walked out again. My dad didn’t eat, however, but he was clearly thinking about it. As soon as I left the room, the nurse through out the pecan waffle with honey.
My dad is dying. And all I can do is be there.