Kiss of Death
[As you know, this summer, my new blogging is over at BLOGSISTERS, and here at Halley's Comment I'm doing a retrospective of earlier posts. This was a post I did on January 15, 2002, while my dad was still hanging on by a thread. I remember looking at the IV's in my dad's arms and the song "I've Got You Under My Skin" was playing on the radio in the room that day. We do what we must. I was no angel of mercy -- many days I just didn't go to visit him in the nursing home because it was too damned depressing. My dad passed away April 9, 2002.]
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.