Monday, January 14, 2002

Kiss of Death

My dad is dying. He's 83 and was shuffling along pretty well despite a very bad heart, until December 2 when he fell and broke his hip. He's been in and out of the hospital five times and in two rehab facilities in a month and the "happy holiday season" wasn't too much fun.

Some good came of it. A friend gave me this amazing book How We Die. Nuland writes poignantly about how most people long for two final scenarios — to die with dignity and not to die alone. Most Americans will not get either.

It is painful, sad and scary to go into these places (nursing homes) where so many people are so needy. They reach out for you, like kids left late at daycare.

My dad has dementia. Doesn't know who I am most days. I sit with him for as long as I can, just holding his scrawny hand, his skinny arm bruised from too many IV's. I play mind games to cheer myself up, to keep my half-full glass from emptying. As I sit there, I am now cataloguing every kiss I've ever received. I have received some excellent kisses and would like to acknowledge and thank all parties concerned.