“I’ll be right back,” I tell Dad as I let go of his hand, “I’m going for lunch.”
“While I starve to death,” he says.
I take a quick break from death and walk down Mt Newton Cross Road to RnR Diner in Saanichton.
“How’s your Dad?” asks Kelly, a server and friend from when I worked there on Tuesdays.
“Are they giving him ice cream?” asks Bunny, another server walking by.
“Never take away that man’s ice cream,” she laughs.
While I wait for my comfort dosage called ‘beef dip and onion rings’, I read signs posted on the wall:
Amazingly enough, I don’t give a shit.
I’m not really a bitch, I just play one in your life.
People say I have a bad attitude, I say screw ‘em.
Today’s menu – take it or leave it.
Someone has grown a thick skin.
“George said he met you at the hospital,” says Bunny.
George is the friendly man in his nineties I chatted with while he was visiting a friend in the same room as Dad a couple weeks back. I remember admiring how strong and healthy he looked.
“He was admitted himself a few days later,” says Bunny, “He had his 26th heart attack!”
“That was him?” I ask.
I hadn’t realized it at the time, but George was on the other side of the curtain from Dad when the doctor gave him the results of the tests. It was good news – he was going to be discharged the next day. I remember listening as he prayed to Jesus Christ to thank him for the opportunity to be of service for another day.
George’s heart keeps breaking and yet he keeps giving.
I read a sign in the Palliative Care lounge:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Rabindranath Tagore (19th century poet)
“Remember to take care of yourself,” says Mum as she tries to delay my return to the hospital after a shower.
Irritated, I ask her to please not block me from being close to Dad. It hurts less when I’m with him. That is, until it doesn’t.
“Please come and get me,” I cry into the phone at 12:30am on my third night laying beside him.
Dad is having a hard time and my heart has broken.
At home on the farm, I climb into bed and hope that tomorrow I will rise up like George to be of service again.