Thursday, July 7, 2011
These days it feels as if my Dad is missing.
Like he is away on an extended trip or maybe working on some sort of project outside or simply running errands.
But, instead, he is the room, but not in the room. His body is there and he is aware he is there and his mind is there, but my Dad, the very essence of my Dad seems to be, well, out.
There are the moments when he brightens--when Chloe dances into the room or Lily says something brilliant and blows her Grandpop a kiss. I see my Dad flit back into the room. His pride evident in his eyes at my daughters--the apples of his eye, but then in a flash, he is missing again.
Or when I bring him fresh Jersey tomatoes and for a moment, we are having a full conversation again about old school Jersey Uglies, which look so damaged, but taste like heaven. And we both reminisce about summer days spent eating tomatoes like apples--because even though my father's childhood was in the 1920s and mine in the 1980s, this is a common thread in our childhoods--a gift passed through generations. But then, quite suddenly, my Dad leaves.
He naps a lot, in a chair without planning or warning. He always seems to know where he is and what day it is and when it is time to eat and occasionally he goes to the bathroom without nagging or prodding. He keeps up with his beloved Phillies. He remembers to say grace before eating. He wears his watch. All those basics--name, date, time--he's got it.
But his truth, his very soul is slowly vanishing from my view.
It is as if the pathways in his mind are slowly disconnecting, reassembling and taking him elsewhere. I imagine all those electric brain paths, fraying, showing their wear after 91 years. His thoughts have led him away from us or maybe his thoughts are what keeps pieces of him present, while his soul is being called somewhere else.
I sit here thinking--is this what 91 looks like? A body that won't always cooperate, but still trucks along, as if it is an old battered car, that still goes from place to place, but the radio is broken and the windows won't roll down and the a/c stopped working years ago? Is this what I prayed for--a long life for my Father? Was I not specific enough?
Because who I want is my Dad--the man is more soul than body. The Dad who tucked me every night. The Dad who sang my girls the same songs he sang to me. The Dad who fed my appetite for reading with new books everyday in the summer. The Dad who was the first person to tell me I was a good mother. The Dad who cried when my daughters were born, the Dad who enjoys his beer with ice, the Dad who never backs down from an argument. The Dad who wants to die with his boots on--only now there are no boots on his feet.
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