As I approach the door, I see him standing there. His smile is instant and infectious. He lifts his hand and waves in a big circle, as if he were an old cowboy saying, “Howdy, partner!” White hair covers his head, and one cowlick stands at attention at the crown, like a stiff albino feather. Once I spring the lock, he sweeps open the heavy door and wraps me in a hug.
“Hey, Ornery!” he laughs.
“Hi, Dad. How’re you doing today?”
“Oh, another day older and deeper in debt!” he jokes.
“Deeper in debt, huh?”
“Yep.” He nods vigorously.
We stroll down the hall toward his room, but before we reach it, the head nurse catches my eye and gestures me over. She leans in for a whispered conference; I stiffen.
“He’s been giving us problems today.”
“Really?” I answer coolly.
“Yes. He would not co-operate with me at lunch time.”
“The doctor would like to put him on meds.”
“Yes, you told me, but I told you no. And, when I questioned the aides about his behavior, they said they’ve had no problems.”
“Well, he fights me all of the time!” she insists.
“I’ll talk to you about this later, please. I’d like to visit with Dad while he’s still alert.”
I step around her and catch up with my Dad, who has stopped to wait on me beyond the nurse’s station. I smile and take his arm, but inside, I’m steaming. The head nurse has accosted me every time I’ve come this past week. She insists my Dad needs anti-psychotic drugs for his Alzheimer’s induced behavior. In another facility, he was medicated so severely, he lost the ability to use the toilet or to speak. After a grueling de-tox and new facility, he’s beginning to recover. The nurses’ aides report that he even says “Thank you” when they help him do something. I can’t bear to think of what will happen if he’s medicated again.
We meander into his room, and I guide him to his recliner while I search the TV stand for the remote. I hand it to him, and he points it at the television. Then he rears back in his chair, props up his feet, and chuckles. He can’t find the remote, or even remember to look for it, if no one reminds him.
“Andy Griffith tonight, huh, Dad?”
“Yepper! I…I…li…li… you know, that…that show.”
“You like that show? Yeah, I do, too. We’ll watch together. But, first, guess what I brought you?”
He turns his face to mine, wrinkles his nose and eyes, then grins, like he used to when I was a girl as he teased me.
His smile stretches and he rubs his tummy.
He watches intently while I open the package, but he offers me the first cookie. Like the good Dad he was and is, he never forgets me, no matter how old I’ve gotten!
We smile at one another and sit contentedly. The black and white program elicits laughs from him, but eventually, his head nods. He’s asleep. As I always do, I cover him gently, kiss his cheek, and tiptoe from the room.
The nurse watches me leave but doesn’t attempt a conversation.
Two days later, when I return to visit, I’m immediately puzzled. Dad isn’t at the door! He isn’t sitting in the chair, waiting and watching for his special visitors. I let myself in and walk to the nurse’s station.
“Where’s Ray?” I ask the head nurse. Her smile is smug, and I’m suddenly alarmed.
“He’s sitting over there in the dining room. The doctor ordered meds for him yesterday. He was being very un-cooperative.”
I turn and see my poor Dad hunched over a table. His arms are slack in his lap, drool is dripping from his chin, and his head nods rhythmically.
“Dad?” He tries to raise his head, but he can’t, nor does he answer.
I feel instant tears; I’m shaking, and sick with betrayal. I go to him, wipe his chin, and cradle his head as my tears fall on his soft white hair.
“I’m sorry, Dad. So sorry. Oh, Dad, I love you.”
Incredibly, he’s fighting through the medicinal fog to speak.
“Deep…deep…er,” he whispers.
“Yes, Dad, I know. Deeper in debt.” I stroke his face gently.
I turn my eyes and fix a bitterly angry gaze on the nurse. Inside, I steel myself for another long fight for my Dad.
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31 NIV
Word Count: 747
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.