Sunday, March 17, 2019

SOL19 Slice #17: Not too long ago

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOL19)
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for the month of March 2019.

A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

I drop by to see him one last time, before leaving for the airport. He's sound asleep, snuggled in a nursing-home-issued blanket, mouth agape, his right hand folded gently under his chin, as if he is lost in thought, deep thought. I really haven't had very much "good" interaction with Dad on this trip. I spent most of the day with him yesterday, and he said only a word or two. It's as if he is here with us physically, only.

I want to interact with him before I leave; I only have an hour. Should I wake him up?

The nurse says he had a very wakeful night, very unsettled, that he kept getting up, coming out of his room (with his walker), making his way to the sitting area, then going back into his room and back to bed again, over and over. At one point, he curled up on the nursing home couch and fell asleep. The night caregiver covered him with a blanket, not wanting to disturb him, hoping he might finally sleep.

This image of my elderly father wandering, restless, searching, in the middle of the night, just breaks my heart.

I cannot write it, without crying.

Right now, it is morning, and sunshine streams in the beautiful large windows, a bright winter sun, gliding easily through the branches of deciduous trees. The day beckons. This nursing home sparkles. It is a nice place, well taken care of, with good, kind personnel. Truly, this nursing home is a lovely place, considering.

I think of him in the middle of the night and I think - this nursing home, this is not his home. He doesn't know where he is. She (Mom) is not here. He doesn't want to be here. My family and I wonder, is he - perhaps - afraid of where he's headed, what death means?


Anonymous people caring for him, calming him, redirecting him, encouraging him. They speak gently. They give him space and freedom to wander a bit, keeping him safe.

This image of my elderly father wandering, restless, searching, in the middle of the night - maybe he's remembering making rounds at the shipyard? Checking on things.

I'll never know.

I decide to walk over and just stand at his bedside, quietly. Remember that trick we all had as young children, where you stare your parent into awake? Yes! I decided to try it again.

I stood next to his bed, bending over, looking, staring, sending him the unspoken message, "Wake up, I am here!"

He woke!!
He sensed me.
His first thoughts were muddled - Who's there? What? Then, "Oh, yeah, Maureen, you have to go back this morning." (He remembered!!)

He is quiet for a minute or two. Then,

"Maureen, look at you in that picture. You were very little then, weren't you? It doesn't seem that long ago."

I turn my head to see the photo that he is looking at, hanging on the wall near his bed:

This photo was taken about fifty years ago.

"No, Dad, it doesn't. It doesn't seem that long ago at all."

Such a precious few minutes with my father. I am blessed.


  1. While there is sadness within this post I was very happy that for a moment you had your dad. Watching your parents age and change and lose themselves is one the hardest things we have to experience. I hope he has more good days.

    1. Thank you for this! Yes, this is one of the hardest things to experience.