– Are you alive down there?
He yells down the hall.
– What are you doing?
– Writing about you.
– True lies?
– You’re a bullshit artist like me.
Dad takes his time lowering himself into the car, dragging one leg in at a time. He takes the cane he leaves there, hooks it onto the top of the door and pulls it shut.
– I’m getting good at that.
– I always find a way to survive.
– How are you?
– Good shape for the shape I’m in.
– I’ve probably told you this before.
After countless times, he tells me again.
– I forget things all the time but then I go to bed and I remember things from years ago.
– I’m already walking down an icy incline. I don’t need a push.
I try not to contradict him when he remembers incorrectly. I try to listen to him regardless of the story. When successful, I enjoy being present with him. When not, I fake it and laugh at the right places. I help him fill in the gaps.
– How are you feeling?
– With my hands.
I drive him to his bi-weekly blood test at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
– Dull Needle was happy to see me today.
He says, getting back in the car.
Dull Needle, a name for a nurse he likes.
– How are you?
– What a question to ask me. I feel like someone’s pulled the plug.
– I’m sorry dear but I’m just not hungry.
– It’s warm in here but I’m cold. I must be old.
– Maybe you’re fighting something.
– Maybe I’m fighting the desire to chase Jealous Husband’s wife.
He rocks back and forth on the chair six times before having the strength to stand up.
– I haven’t done a damn thing all day and I’m tired as hell. I’m ready to go to bed.
I’ve taken the Warfarin pills out of his blister pack. No more rat poison until his surgery.
He hasn’t gone to church in three weeks. I’m worried about him.