There is a world between worlds, and my dad has been residing there this week. His body is here, but his mind is somewhere else. It hasn't really left here yet, because he has been talking about things from his past, but whether his eyes are closed, or open, he most definitely has NOT been in the hospital where I have been sitting with him all week. Thankfully, as the week wore on, where he was became less and less important to him, to the point where I finally stopped feeling it necessary to "bring him back," or "convince him" that he really WAS in the hospital in Rochester. Finally, today, I just simply thought "Who cares - as long as he doesn't."
It's been an interesting week. He went in Monday night - well, Tuesday at about 4 am, actually, and since my sister had already left for North/South Carolina for her week of school vacation, they called one of my two brothers and he went in to the hospital to be with my dad. But as has been typical of my dad for the past year, or so, and especially lately, he was very combative and argumentative about the fact that he was NOT staying there (not that he knew where "there" was, particularly) and pulled out his IV line, and ripped the heart monitor pads off his chest, etc. And, because he is at his worst with my brother, for whatever reason, my brother finally left him about noon. I couldn't go up Tuesday because of obligations here, but left Wednesday morning to go up, and spent the day. He was hallucinating most of Wednesday afternoon, which was strange to witness, but actually turned out to be pretty funny. For someone who has been pretty close to prudish most of his life, to watch him try to take his clothes off, and hear him complain that no one would let him "get naked" was slightly shocking. But, I rolled with it. What else can you do? When I asked him WHY he wanted to get naked, he said he thought he should stand in front of a school assembly in his "wherewithall," which I assume means his birthday suit? because "it would give the kids quite a start" didn't I think? Yep, I did. My dad worked in a public school as a teacher and a guidance counselor/administrator for more than 30 years, so I guess it isn't too surprising that his mind would go back to those days. When I caught him fiddling with his "parts" and asked him what he was doing, he told me he was trying to open his fly. "Why, dad?" "Well, to expose myself, of course." "Uh, for what?" Without ever opening his eyes, he just smiled a beautiful, silly smile, and said, "For the bumblebees." Oh my gosh, dad! :) He also rambled on about nanny goats (?), wondering why they were called that, and then was telling me about a red, white and blue striped bucket. First it was a wastebasket, an Americana one that he was trying to find in his art magazine (the non-existent magazine that he clearly was turning pages in, in his hands), then it was a bucket. I asked him what he would do with it, and he said, "Fill it with horse poop. Then you put it on the fence on a post so people can look at it. Bernard would like to do that." (Bernard is his neighbor - the same neighbor that he told me today to go check to see if Bernard got a deer yesterday, because he "drags them down to his sidewalk by putting grain out for them to eat." Now, I know he DOES actually feed the deer on his sidewalk, but in his defense, I also know he does not SHOOT them there!) Then, that day, he went from a red/white/blue striped wastebasket to a bucket to a beer can to a beer barrell. They were all striped. My dad doesn't DRINK. I doubt he has ever had a beer in his life, but he was all about beer Wednesday afternoon. He even mentioned one of my cousins, he couldn't remember which one, opening a beer and "taking a big chug" at one of our family reunions. He reminisced about an art teacher who moved to Vermont, and said that his wife often wore s "gingham dress" but he could NOT get the word "gingham" out. He finally gave up on it. So strange, the paths that he wandered Wednesday. I kept thinking of that Dr. Suess book title, "Oh the places we'll go." Oh, the places he went! I know I have already forgotten half the crazy things he said that day that I wanted to remember.
Thursday he was much less animated, and was quieter. He actually slept most of Thursday, in bed. In fact, I was pretty worried that, sleeping the day away like that would make him alert (as in awake, not cognizant) and confused and therefore more likely to be aggressive that night when I wouldn't be around, but according to the reports on Friday, he slept most of the night, too. The worst part of Thursday was the afternoon 1:1 aide they sent who would NOT STOP TALKING. I am just NOT a big talker. I prefer to sit silently, even with my dad. He's not big on conversation at this point, either, so it's comfortable for me to just sit with him, to just BE there. And although I appreciate the fact that the aide was kind, and nice, and a good person, I really didn't feel the need to know all about the new carpeting or the choir in her church, or the pastor, or her neices and nephews, or her new hair cut and her search for a new apartment with her room mate and her sister. I was exhausted and tense after two hours with her, and feeling guilty that I felt that way on top of that. Sigh.
Friday and Saturday were more of the same, although yesterday I noticed that he seemed exhausted by every little thing, and isn't eating anything. He just slept, and rambled on incoherently in his "sleep." It doesn't really seem like sleep, but more like he simply closes his eyes and takes instant flight with his mind. His body is still held here, in this hospital bed, held captive by his terrible terrible cough and filled lungs, and his discomfort because he can no longer seem to pee on his own, but at least his mind is free enough to go. I think he must be getting close to my mom, because he has been talking about her all week, too. He keeps saying he wonders when she'll be home - and she passed away 5 years ago. Initially, I corrected him once, then let it go every future time he wondered. I wonder if he just has his sentence syntax, or pronouns, mixed up. I wonder if what he REALLY wonders is, "I wonder when I"LL be home - to see your mother again."
Today, Sunday, he slept all morning. When he came to, around noon, he looked through me and said, "Boy I miss your mother so much." Me, too, dad. Me, too. But I'm going to miss you more, because you're the only parent I have left, and the only parent I've had for the last five years, and I have depended on you as much as you have depended on me.
I wish that I could send him on his way to meet her. He's ready. And I think I'm getting there. I'm not sure I'm ready yet, but I'm getting there. Oh, the places he'll go... places we won't be able to follow.