In the top drawer is Daddy’s inexpensive silver wristwatch with its flexible, stretch band. Without his warm flesh and steady heartbeat, it stopped. I tried wearing it when I noticed, but it was too late. So it lays here, the date feature, Mon 20, the time, 5:05 p.m. and ten seconds.
Funny that, since Daddy died on Monday the 20th. I wonder now, did it stop the day he died, or did it run longer? I can’t remember, which is strange, because at the time, I thought I’d never forget.
I’ve kept the yellow post-it notes he wrote and stuck on the side of the filing cabinet by the desk. Doctor’s number, appointment reminders, police and newspaper phone numbers. I like looking at his handwriting. Printing, really. The only time he used cursive was to write his distinctive and legible signature.
I was an adult before he confessed his handwriting was terrible, so he printed. I’d always thought his familiar script was his preferred writing; neat, precise letters in a straight line, the “a” like a typewriter “a” with the tail curving across the top. Not like the round “ɑ” they taught me in grade school.
I want to remember him in his strength; when it was easy to open drawers, when his watch ticked efficiently; when it was nothing for him to write a note to me, or to write in the checkbook. I don’t want to think about those days he wasted away to a potbelly on a skeleton frame, the minutes and hours and days of caregiving roaring loud in my ears as we inched across the horizon toward his setting sun.
His abdomen filled with fluid as his body failed from liver cancer. I was clueless. He hardly ate, yet his pants were too tight to button? I cringe now to think of things I could have done to make his days easier.
I don’t want to remember the last time he wrote. The first time we went to the lab to have 2 liters of fluid drawn off his belly, he signed and dated the forms with ease. The last time we went, his consent signature looked like the illegible scribbles of a two-year old. His precise, neat printing and his one concession to cursive writing were gone. It wasn’t long before he was gone.
I come often to this place that was Daddy’s domain. I sit at the big metal desk that’s marred by years of use and run my hands over the scratched and scarred surface. I can see how he grasped the handle of each drawer, the black paint worn away to gun-metal gray where his thumb extended to press for leverage to pull them open. In memory I see him here. He calls me honey. He sings, smiles, talks ethics, politics, religion and sports. He remains in my heart. Until I join him, I’ll hold on to the simple reminders. I won’t forget.
Today is my Father’s 83rd birthday. My relationship with him has always been complicated. He is now in the middle of a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He has the kind that makes him get angry in about 1.2 seconds and then say something horrible. Seconds later he forgets and wonders why someone is mad at him. Your memories, your sadness and more importantly your love and respect for your Dad give me pause to be more patient…more forgiving and to have less memory of the hard times. Thank you for this. It hit me hard. But it is a fair and honest bruise you left. Blessings on you.
So sorry to hear about your Father. This is so tough on you…and the family…and him. It’s hard to just be loving and forgive yourself for not being able to make it all ok. But you can be there and that’s a blessing you won’t regret in years to come.
Made me think of my own Dad who passed when I was 16(50 years ago) Knowing your Dad, it brought those fond memories back, too. Thank you for the story.
I have missed them.
thanks, Sharon. I’ve missed them, too.
Thanks. So many things I wish we had talked about while he was still here. Can’t wait to see him in glory! Along with everybody else who’s gone before.
Agreed. It will be quite a reunion!