Saturday, August 19, 2006


12:17 p.m. My sister called to say that my father has been transferred from his skilled nursing facility to the hospital. His condition is critical, and he is in the ICU. They have not allowed her in to see him yet, and they nursing facility described him as "non-responsive."

When I asked her what that meant, she said, "When they talk to him, he doesn't respond. Well, he can always be like that. I think they have him hooked up to the same machines Mother was on the week she died."

As usual, I have a great wall between this reality and whatever emotions I may be processing right now. I am neither critquing or challenging them, only knowing that they are there and recalling that I've had a couple of dreams about this over the week.

3:05 p.m. My sister calls again. She has been in the ICU with my dad, and he doesn't respond directly to her. The doctors have had him heavily medicated. They know that there is definitely pneumonia in one lung, likely in the other. They think he's likely had a heart attack as well.

The doctor told her that if there is recovery, it would be over a very long period of time. And that things could go "the other way" very suddenly.

6:38 p.m. My sister has talked to both doctors and nurses. They are now calling his condition "exteremely crititcal" and the next 24 hours will determine what will happen from here. He is not responding to breathing on his own.

8:13 p.m. My sister opens with: "We lost him." His blood pressure was coming up, and then suddenly around 7:30 p.m. CST, it dropped to zero, and at 7:45 p.m. CST he was gone. Less than a minute later there was a bolt of lightning. "It was Mama saying 'You're here!'" my sister said. Three minutes later his minister walked in the door.

I can't help remembering being with him two weeks ago at the skilled nursing facility and realizing even then what a gift it was. I remember having a heightened sense of awareness of the quality of evening light, savoring it as it before it fades. I took in its warmth on old buildings on Main Street of my father's town, knowing that I will never see the light exactly as it was in that moment.

When people heard that my father was in a nursing home, wheel chair bound, they kept saying that it must have been painful. I kept remembering him as I walked in the door just over two weeks ago -- overcome with joy the second I walked in the room. How many people have that reaction when I walk in the door?


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