Started November 8.
Finished November 16.
Today Mom and I took Dad out to vote. As I helped him get ready, tying his shoes, getting him into his jacket, I realized what an amazing gift I was being given today. My dad has always been after my brother and me to vote; he always got us the absentee ballots when we were away at college. We always took it for granted, we still do. After all, you get in a car and you drive to the voting post and pull a few levers. We do it all the time.
I helped Dad out of the car and walked him in. Our hometown's a small town, and he was greeted by name by those campaigning for the candidates. They shook his hand and said they were thinking of him, and it was easy to see they meant it.
Dad and I made it to the polling room, and I was allowed to help him to the booth. My mom caught up with us, and voted herself, finishing before Dad. No one protested when she stood by the curtain to his booth and asked if he was okay. We were the only ones there and everyone knew why she did that so no one fussed.
Today I saw how no one forgot Dad even though he can no longer be the one to give. It amazes me, really, to see the impact he had on people. When all this began, I contemplated reading books on dying and the lessons that those who are so close to the end can teach us... but didn't. I decided that reading "Tuesdays with Morrie" wasn't the way for me to go. I haven't read anything save for light romance novels.
Several years ago, once upon a time in college, I had a psych teacher who decided that it would do us students good to visit the retired nuns of Seton Hill. I chose Sr. Miriam Joseph Murphy, primarily because she was someone with whom I had a connection of sorts, she was a former Setonian advisor and I was the current Setonian editor. She advised once upon a time when the Setonian was housed under Lowe Hall. I never saw the old office, but the door -- a big, heavy, black wooden door that was no doubt the same age as the hall itself, suggested the days when Seton Hill's daughters wrote stories about bats that got into the dormitories, referred to the women in the articles by their nicknames, and showcased the new "modern" dormitories that were added to Lowe in 1921. Sister told me stories about her editors, particularly the one who would make the writers scrub the wooden floors when they were trying to come up with ideas.
We students knew Sister for whacking the ankles of the male students if she thought they'd left the elevator doors open, she was as cranky as they came; the perfect curmudgeon. The goal of the project, by the way, was to talk about death and dying, to learn about the ways in which the elderly look at them. Sr. Mimi Jo was ready, though she wasn't waiting for it. Her and some friends kept themselves busy reciting poetry and challenging each other to remember what they could. The computer teacher had brought her a computer and she was learning how to send e-mail on the campus intranet. Once I brought pizza from Little Ceasar's, and we had a mini-pizza party.
Sr. Mimi Jo introduced me to Yeats, who is now one of my favorite poets. She also introduced me to death. Prior to meeting her, I lost only a few uncles and aunts, no one particularly close to me.
Now I'm watching my father die. It's just a little bit every day. This week he acquiesced to a hospital bed because it's closer to the ground then the twin bed he was using. He had to give up his marriage bed long ago when he was on chemo 24/7. Now he had to give up the antique twin bed, the one he used as a boy when he lived with his Aunt Kitty and Uncle Fran. Pap-pap's bed will become Gavie's this Christmas.
Right now, Dad's sitting in his rocking chair, dozing on and off. We don't talk much now, we covered all of the coversations that we need to have long ago. He's a very private man, and I'm quiet by nature. We've made out peace. Tonight we ordered Mom's Christmas gift from dad. Thanks to my laptop we were able to shop on-line and find that "perfect" gift. What is it? Oh no, you'll have to wait for that answer. Can't have it getting back to mom, can I?
She's at the grocery store, by the way. I wouldn't say it's the most exciting trip to be made, but it's something out of the house.