This is my dad yesterday. The day before, he almost died.
His nursing home floor was quarantined for over a week because the flu was going around. My dad had a slight fever and complained of feeling lousy. We figured it was the flu. Because of the quarantine we couldn’t visit him, but over the phone he sounded tired, off. After the quarantine was lifted, my sister Suzanne went to see him and he told her he was dying.
Tests were run, and by the time I went to see him the next morning he was in his room, carrying on an animated conversation with an imaginary person. The doctor rushed in to tell me the ambulance was on the way. The diagnosis: acute renal failure. His kidneys were shutting down. He was right about dying.
It took a day to get to the source of the infection- a UTI run amok. He had to be hooked up and rehydrated and given stronger antibiotics. But the turnaround has been swift. He’s going to be okay.
The day we found out he was gravely ill is the kind of day we’ve all experienced. They are not the day we were supposed to have. We were not supposed to rear-end the school bus or find out the tumor is malignant. The day starts out like a regular day, but in an instant everything is thrown.
The days we are not supposed to have are the days that remind us that we walk along the edge of the abyss. This is something we’d really rather forget, so we make it our business to do just that. Happily, most days we find industrious, comfortable oblivion. We floss our teeth, drink our coffee, start our car engines. We maintain the illusion that there’s no stopping us.
Until suddenly, there is.
My father looked at me yesterday from his hospital bed and grinned. “Honey,” he said, “you are marvelous.” My father is prone to hyperbole, but I don’t disagree with him. He is, too. We all are, in the way we manage to keep the tap dance going yet again.
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