Friday, July 22, 2011


At the nursing home where my Dad is residing for the second time this year, everyone is waiting.

They wait for meals, some with expectation others with trepidation. They wait for therapy sessions. They wait for visitors. They wait for medication. They wait for sleep. Some wait quietly. Some wait with laughter. Others with rage. They all wait to leave.

My Dad has been waiting to leave for days.

Some days he wants to go home. Because he has a project to complete.

Other days he wants to go to the shore, because it is the end of July, for 80 years he spent every late-July at the shore. Childhood in Wildwood Crest at his grandmother's house. Young adulthood in the Crest torturing his sister when she waitressed at all-you-can-eat pancake Sunday's. I always spent my childhood birthdays at the beach--building sand castles, eating hot dogs, clamming, riding boats, jumping waves and soaking up my father's history.

I imagine the only time he was not on the sand or the boards was during World War II--but knowing my stubborn old man--I am certain he found some beaches in Morocco or Panama or where ever his merchant ship took him.

But now he just waits. There are no beach chairs to load in, no sandy kids to toss in the back of the station wagon, no seagulls trying to steal our clams, no tidal pools to splash in.

Those things are all there, but my Dad is here.

He could not leave if he wanted to or if by some miracle, he could sneak away. He is a flight risk and his chair is alarmed--one step out of his wheel chair and the alarm goes off.

He is a prisoner to old age. So for now, we all wait. We wait for my dad to break free of old age. For the warden to release him from this prison of eternal waiting. We wait for the beach.

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