Imagine sitting around a campfire with a group of friends. The flames have died to embers, crickets chirp, The moon casts mottled shadows. Everyone waits breathlessly for the storyteller…
I wrote this about a year after my father died. Springtime is his time of year, so I’m bringing it out again. Because it’s worth remembering. At least for me.
Dennis Hopper looks as frail as a newborn. I saw video of him as he accepted his star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Basically, it was his last public appearance because he’s dying from cancer, and he looked like a baby bird in a designer suit.
Pop never looked that frail when he was at the end. He was still huggable. I have hospital bed photos of him from his second-to-last visit. It seems kind of weird to have taken the photos, but I’m glad I have them anyway, even if it does nothing but document him scowling at the chopped turkey and abused green beans on his hospital tray.
I didn’t take any photos during his very last time in the hospital.
One of his last requests was to be helped up so he could put his feet on the floor. Kind of like dying with your boots on, I think. A really pretty young nurse named Clara was willing to let him try. She was very tall, fresh out of school, and fairly athletic–she looked like she could handle the weight. So, she carefully started to maneuver him toward the side of the bed.
He was extremely weak. You don’t really think about being weak until you see someone who can’t move his own limbs. She grasped his arm very gently to lift him.
I need to stop here and say that nurses are special people. I can’t fathom touching people daily and imbuing each touch with the kindness and tenderness that these women did for my father. Even with gloves on. But when she tried to lift him, the skin of his arm tore as quickly and thinly as if it were tissue paper.
Clara kind of gasped. She ran to get some clear adhesive to hold the skin together, but it was a pretty bad tear. She taped him up and soon after, I saw her leaving the floor with her eyes puffy and red.
Pop never was able to put his feet on the floor. And we were left those last couple of days avoiding looking at his arm knowing that it was an injury that would never heal because there wasn’t any need for it to do so.
Easter makes me think about Pop. In our mixed faith household, it was his holiday. And no matter whatever else I believe about religion and the universe, or what I try to make myself believe, I know without a doubt that wherever he is, he is fully healed.