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For three days I have tended my father. I’ve managed his pills and his eye drops; I’ve fetched countless glasses of water. Trips to the loo are a slow process taking several minutes of slow careful planning . It is not difficult work, only constant. Father doesn’t complain, but he often changes his mind. I get him situated in a chair with specific covers and he wants something different. It is tiring work, although none of it is difficult.  I’ve done his laundry and tidied up his papers and made sure he takes his tonic. I expunged his email account of over 2,000 unread emails all rubbish.  

Most of the time I am just sitting with him as he snoozes or asks Alexa to once again change the tune for the umpteenth time.* He and I have always been like two peas and now we sit covered in matching afghans, for we are both cold (he’s old and I’m from Arizona). Seeing him sleeping in his chair is like looking at my future, what I will be like in twenty years. The difference is Father has four sons taking care of him, and I do not. I wonder who will care for me when it is my time? 

After three days Father hasn’t talked about anything deep or reflective other than to remember old tunes and times. I don’t intuit a rhinoceros in the room so I’ve had sense not to become his therapist trying to get him to ‘open up’ as it were. Father has spoken several times about his gratitude for ‘his blessings’  rather than directly saying “I am grateful for having you here”. He doesn’t have to say it directly nor am I going to drag such out of him. 

As I type Brother #4 has come over and the two of them are now listening to some silly old football game on Father’s iPad while they talk over each other (as is their wont) as I type. It is a very nice scenario, really, and I am not going to mar it by saying out loud how nice it is. 

Tomorrow I fly home and return to my usual mode of operation of taking care not one person but hundreds of people (patients). I feel good for having done some good here. This trip reminds me of a line in a poem in which the writer remembers her mother teaching her it doesn’t matter what we said and did but that we came. 

 

 

*He’s got brains like a hummingbird too. Where do you suppose I got it? 

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