by Emily Dietrich

Time for Hospice Blues

This morning, I sent an email to the nurse where my father lives. I told her my brother and I had decided that we would follow her suggestion that we get Dad signed up for hospice service.

I had just taken the kids to school. The rain was hard and cold. I sent the email, pretended I hadn’t, and went back to sleep.

Today, I didn’t want to rest my thoughts anywhere for too long. I jumped at chances to make an extra trip to take my son here, my daughter there, to drop something off or call to check on someone. Someone else. Not my dad.

Until now, this moment, I haven’t thought about my dad, just my dad. I did begin thinking about the decision we made. I called my brother later in the day to ask him how he was feeling about it. He said he was feeling really good about it. I am too. I am too!

I want my father to have the advantages of palliative care, counseling, attendants, nurses’ visits. I know that we waited too long to start availing my mother of those services before she died. I accept the conditions of hospice care: acknowledging the fact that my father might day within the next six months and not trying to cure him.

I’ve known he’s going to die from Alzheimer’s since he first told his he was taking medication to slow its effects, ten years ago. But I still do not like it. I do not like it, Sam I am. I do not like it, Dad. Dad! I do not like saying you may die in six months! I do not like authorizing your entrance into a hospice program

I shed a few tears about the new and differently sad stage in the car taking my son to band practice. I was furious with the stupid packages around the salmon that would not immediately yield to my efforts to open them. I felt panicked, sick, irritable and, finally, exhausted. By we sat down to dinner, I felt I could breathe.

But just now, a few paragraphs up, I thought about Dad, the being, the man, the patient, the parent, the vulnerable victim of disease. I thought of his increasingly tiny wrists, his still full hair, his whiskers, his smile. And I don’t feel much like breathing. I feel more like howling.

Author: Emily

Emily Dietrich is a poet, novelist, and mystery writer.

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