Dad is lying on his bed, dress including a warm-up jacket and trucking cap. He looks up as we enter and I pull up a chair to bedside for Mom. I sit against the wall, behind Mom and mostly out of sight.
Mom and Dad talk quietly, she answering questions regarding where she lives now, how the car is running, and how are financial affairs. The discussion is more that of reminding Dad of the basics; there are no detailed explanations.
"When can I go home with you?" Dad asks, and Mom explains that he is weak and she can't take care of him. He will have to stay for a while longer. Dad raises no argument.
After a half hour, Dad begins to get more agitated, saying he wants to go home. Mom kisses him and says she has to go and will come back later. We leave before things are too tense, no one really happy but no overwhelming moments either.
"Hello, connect me with the nurses' station, please."
"Yes? This is the nurses' station."
"Hi, this is Tom Kepler. I'm calling to see if this is a good time for my mom and me to visit Harold. Is he in a good mood today?"
After a check comes the reply, "Today would not be a good day. He's looking to leave and has 'that look' about him."
"OK, thank you. We'll try again tomorrow."
Dad is sleeping when we enter his room. Mom approaches and gently wakes him.
"Hello, Harold. We came to visit. How are you?" She touches his arm lightly and they kiss.
"Glad you could come," Dad says.
"Do you want to talk, or are you sleepy?"
"I'm pretty sleepy."
"You'd like us to let you sleep?"
"I think so, but thanks for coming."
"OK, you rest, and make sure you eat your lunch."
Dad is lying in bed awake, fully dressed with cap, covered by a blanket. He stares at the ceiling.
As we enter, he looks at us. "Hi, I was wondering if you'd forgotten about me."
"Oh, we love you, Harold. We would never forget you."
Mom sits in her chair, and I move to the chair by the wall behind her.
They talk, and Dad has more energy today and is more lucid. There is no real focus to the conversation, but they are together for about ninety minutes. About every 7 minutes on the average, Dad asks where we live now, but there is more ease to the questions. He nods as Mom verifies our location.
I join the conversation later on, sitting on the edge of Dad's bed. At several points, we remind him that the "old place" is not where we live, that he sold it over fifty years ago, and that my brother is not "Steve," a high school friend. Dad ponders these facts that he had wrong.
"You lie here and just think and dream. I'm not sure what's real anymore."
The conversation is sweet, though, and lasts until the aide comes to get Dad up for lunch. We say our good-byes, promise to be back, and ease out the door as the aide helps Dad into his wheelchair.
Mom is happy, having talked to Dad and left with a warm good-bye.
"I'd like him to come home, though, if he gets stronger and my heart gets better."
That's a wish worth having. I agree, Mom taking my arm as we slowly make our way outside and into the light of day.
Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved