“Honey, can you get that?” my husband shouted from the kitchen when the doorbell sounded.
Hurrying to the door, I was pleased to see that the assistant pastor’s wife was right on time. “Hi Hilary, please, come in.”
“Thank you, Katrina,” she said as she entered the hall. “Now, are you all set?”
“Just about,” I affirmed warmly. “I’d also like to say how much we appreciate this--you’re an angel.”
“Oh, think nothing of it, dear,” she replied. “I am aware of how taxing this past year has been on the two of you. Now go and enjoy this beautiful spring day--you deserve this break.”
“Actually, jury’s out on that one. Since my dad’s lapse, this will be the first time I’ve been away from him for a whole day, so I’m feeling a tad guilty.” I explained. Although my father no longer remembered me, we had been so close that I had never faltered at the responsibility, no, the privilege, of looking after him.
“That’s nonsense, Katrina. You’ve been more than faithful. Now go, take your husband and enjoy your tenth anniversary. Your dad will be just fine with me.”
James joined us at the door sporting a bulging picnic basket. His eyes sparkled with the anticipation of our being able to spend a whole day together. He held up the car keys. “All set, Kat?”
“Okay if I check on him before we go?”
“Of course. I’ll be right here,” he said good-naturedly.
I was surprised to see Dad awake and sitting up when I slipped into his room.
“Hey, Kat, what’s up?” he said amiably.
“You…you know who I am, Dad?” I asked incredulously.
“No, daughter,” he said with mock indignation, “I thought you were the maid.”
I sat on the edge of the bed, amazed that he was so lucid. Although the doctor had mentioned he might still have such moments, there had been none for months. I took his hand. “You wouldn’t believe how glad I am to see you today, Dad.”
He looked about the room. “Why am I in your house?”
“You’ve been staying with James and me for awhile,” I answered gently.
“Me and my frontal lobe epilepsy,” he pouted. “I keep forgetting what I did yesterday.”
His current ailment was unrelated to his epilepsy--though that affected his memory too. I decided to run an old joke past him. “Remember when the elephant tried to climb down our chimney?”
“You rascal!” he chuckled, “now that I would remember!”
“What about the first time I brought James home?” Would he remember this too?
“Oh, poor guy: the look on his face when I belched the first five letters of the alphabet. Good thing he found a sense of humour on his next visit.”
“Why?” I pressed mischievously.
“It was a test. No sense of humour, no dating my daughter.”
There was a gentle knock on the door and James entered.
“Hey, Son. We were just talking about you,” Dad teased.
My husband saw the look of undisguised delight on my face, and then inconspicuously placed the picnic basket outside the room. “I’ll let Hilary know that we won’t be needing her today after all.”
“No, it’s okay,” I said, but the words were empty, and he knew it.
“Make the most of this, Kat,” he said sincerely. “You may not get another chance.”
“Thank you,” I said, heartfelt gratitude colouring my voice.
“What are you two talking about?” my father interrupted.
I poked his arm playfully. “Don’t you worry your balding head, Dad.”
“Oh no!” he said in mock surprise as wrinkled fingers explored his scalp, “what happened to my hair!” Then, after checking his eyebrows, “ah, that’s where it went.”
While making the most of this unexpected gift of being able to connect with my father again, I sent a quick text message to my brother. Bro, come quik, dad’s lucid 2day.
His reply came back moments later: Gr8 sis, b there soon.
It was mid-afternoon when my brother arrived. “I messaged you at nine this morning--where have you been?”
“Sorry Sis--lost track of time trying to get a client’s server back online. How’s Dad?”
“He’s just woken from his midday nap,” I replied curtly, “why don’t you find out for yourself?”
I did not follow my brother into the room, but still overheard what Dad said to him--the same three words he had spoken to me upon waking.
“Who are you?”
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