It was my night to bring my father dinner and I stopped at a store by his house to pick up his favorite meal of chicken wings and coleslaw.
“Not that again. No thanks.” Really? I was surprised because these were from his favorite grocery deli. “Ok, what else can I make for you?” “Anything. Surprise me. If you can!” Ha! Sometimes he is like a fussy two year old. I suppose when you are at his age you are just plain tired of food. I rummage around in his freezer and find some Jimmy Dean Sausage and Egg muffins and I throw one in the microwave. I bring it to him and he tells me he can’t eat a whole one and to cut it in half.
“You girls just don’t get it, I am just not that hungry any more.” He says that every time one of us brings him dinner and and it the feeling of never being able to please him just gets so tiring. I feel guilty as I glance at the clock and start figuring out how quickly I can make my escape without feeling like a BAD daughter. I have other things to do and besides, I have a life too, don’t I?
He suddenly starts complaining that his left hand itches and I reach over and touch the top of his hand and look at his palm. “Doesn’t feel dry and I don’t see any hives, Dad” He shakes his head, “It really itches and I don’t feel well.”
I bend down to look at his face and I see his lips are dark. Almost black. I start to freak out. but I don’t want him to notice. “What do you mean you don’t feel well? What is wrong? ” I keep looking at his black lips and wondering if I need to call the nurse next door who takes care of him. He continues to complain as I start to scan his body. Something wrong with his circulation? I look to see if his legs or feet are purple, if he is shallow breathing or if he looks distressed anywhere else.
Oh no! Don’t die on my dinner watch! He continues to complain that he is not hungry and picks up the muffin and starts eating it. I suddenly notice that the more he talks and the more he eats that his black lips are returning to their normal color. He isn’t dying! Its freakin chocolate cookie stains! I spot an empty baggie with some cookie crumb residue and it becomes obvious that he has been eating Oreo cookies all afternoon, along with mini-donuts and other cookies and candy that are strewn all over the end table next to his recliner. No wonder he is never hungry when we bring him dinner! He has a small bakery at his disposable, along side his tv remote!
He forces down the 1/2 of the breakfast muffin and then calls it quits. “Take the plate away, I am done.” “Ok, I guess all those cookies made you full.” “What cookies? Who buys me all of this junk? I never eat it” 🙂
“Dad do you want me to bring you some ice cream.” “Not till later.” “Well I am not going to stay that long.” ” You can stay a half hour more.” I sit and read the paper with him and start to feel agitated because I really want to get on my way. Then a wave of guilt hits me and I realize that I may not have many of these quiet moments left with him. How sad I will feel when I don’t have the opportunity to bring him dinner or listen to him complain and lie through chocolate stained lips.
I enjoy another hour with him and thank God for this opportunity. I ask him if he needs anything else. “you can get me that ice cream now.” I retrieve the ice cream bar and tell him I love him and as I turn to leave he says. “I am sorry, I am so crabby, but nothing seems to be going right for me and my hand still itches” I smile and assure him that I will have the night nurse take a look at it before he goes to bed.
I get in my car and drive away and feel grateful that I have the ability to do so. Must be rough to sit in a chair all day watching golf on tv and waiting for people to come over. I am thankful for my sisters who also share in his care and for the 2 caretakers who come in every day so he can stay in his home till God calls him home. I can’t even imagine doing this all on my own.
Lord help me to stop rushing away from people. Help me to love others like you do. Especially my father. Let me see this as precious time, well spent.