Feb 2019 15

“Before we get to the hospital, is there anything you want to tell me?”

“Like what?”

“You have a secret family somewhere or final wishes nobody knows about like you want a gypsy funeral.”

“Nope.”

And we chuckled together and drove on.

Ah, the things you talk about when taking your 90 year old father to the hospital. Not the expected banter, perhaps. But with the hospital now right around the corner, I knew from experience these would be our last moments alone together before we would be surrounded by chaos.

We’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals together. Although it’s been twelve years since his last extended stay, I knew what we were in for. Like warriors do when the war is over, you put your weapons away, but never forget the skills you learned and hope you’ll never have to use them again. But you’ll be ready.

I was going through my list. Shortness of breath. Gasping. Started three days ago. Low oxygenation level. No pain, coughing or sniffles. And, wait a second.

“What’s that DNR form the staff at your Seniors place gave me?”

“What about it?”

“Your signature’s not on it. Did you really agree to this?”

“Do Not Resesciutate. DNR. Yes. I don’t want to be brought back.”

“What?”

“Yah, all that paddles and defibrillator stuff? Come back as a vegetable. No way. When I’m gone, that’s it.”

Fuck. No secret family. No dramatic returns from the dead with a message like the winning lottery numbers. He was taking all the fun out of this.

“Alright. I’m not sure how I feel about that. But that’s what you want. I’ll respect it.”

We drove on. I could see the hospital now. Valentine’s Day night at the Emergency Ward in Parkdale. This would be no place for the anxious, impatient, or pessimistic. I would have to pretend to not be myself for the next few hours.

“You know that man, Bill, at the place I live. The ex typographer. Married a Japanese woman too.”

“Yes. I like him.”

“He died.”

“What? When?”

“Sunday morning they found him. I didn’t think he looked good on Saturday but he’s been on oxygen for a couple of months.”

“Dad, that sucks. I’m sorry.”

“Yes, the guys. We’re all taking it hard. We were shocked.”

Tall. Wavy gray hair. Kind face. Glasses. Always smiling. Would talk to me about advertising – “That’s a stressful life you’ve chosen, Andrew. If you’re still doing it, you must be good at it.” Gone. I’d never see him again.

“Dad, I’ll never like idea of this world without you, but how do you feel about your own mortality?”

“Being old sucks, Andrew. Life is short. You hit 30 and suddenly you’re 90.”

“You know I’m long past 30, right?”

“You gotta live. It’s short.”

We pulled up to the hospital.

“Well, that’s the thing about a Senior’s home, Andrew. We all know none of us is getting out of there. But when you leave… they carry you out like a hero.”

Valentine’s Day night with the person I’ve dropped everything in my life for on more than one occasion. Seems fitting. My original hero and villain. It has been a bittersweet and toxic romance, although I love him dearly. And this time I’m long past 30.

I spotted an empty wheelchair nearby and remembered – you gotta grab those when you see them.

 

NOTE: After a long night in the Emergency Ward that I’ll probably write about, my dad has been admitted. In fact, as I write this, he is lying in his hospital bed in front of me and trying to pee in a container – “Shit. Bloody hard to find your pecker.” Could be nothing. But don’t forget everyone – life seems short. Even if you get to 90.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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