Today was the first day that I didn’t have a real conversation with my dad. Jim got there this morning with his breakfast, and he told Jim to bring him eggs that are over easy tomorrow instead of scrambled. He also asked for tomato juice. Then when Ann got there, he told her to tell Jim not to bring breakfast because he brings him poached eggs and he has to eat them all and it’s too much. Any other time he was awake today, he was not very coherent. He woke up for a minute while I was there and asked me what was on my shirt. I told him Chocolate (I have on my Hershey’s Chocolate World shirt) and he repeated back “Catholic” and went back to sleep. By the time I left, he had not had any morphine at all today, but he was unable to stay awake at all. He ate the breakfast, but didn’t eat hardly any of his lunch, and he was running a fever. Ann was trying to keep a cover on him so he would stay warm, but he seemed to be pushing it away in his sleep. He also seems to be having more irregular breathing. As I watched him sleep, he would take a couple of very quick breaths, then his chest would stop moving for 20 or 30 seconds, and he would breathe again.
My Aunt Mary was getting on a plane back to Colorado tonight, and my Aunt Joan is heading back to the convent until Friday night, then she’ll be back for the weekend. My Uncle Bobby has to be back to work next Wednesday, and he told Ann today that he plans on staying until he absolutely has to leave, so by Monday he’ll be back on the road. My Aunt Mary predicted that my dad would hang on for a while. I can’t see it happening. He gets visibly weaker every time I see him – his voice is weaker, he can barely sit up – compared to how he was on Friday, there is a dramatic difference.
My Uncle Bobby talked about his eating habits today, and all I could think to say to him is that he has to make sure he doesn’t do this to his children. I feel badly saying that – like my father is “doing something” to me by dying. But really, all the years that my dad has been diabetic, he cheated on his diet, figured he’d up his insulin when he needed to, barely took care of himself. I can’t help now but wonder if there had been no huge ice cream floats made with diet soda if I might have him for a bit longer.
There are several conversations I recall having with my father about dying when I was younger. In one of the conversations, he said that if he died and found out there is reincarnation, he wanted to come back as a manatee. That always made me cry. He talked about being a manatee as if it was the best life there could be – and maybe for a sailor, it is – but when he described it to me as a child, I could think of nothing more depressing. He spoke of just floating around the ocean, coming up for air once in a while, sticking with your family, and eating sea grasses. As a grown up, it doesn’t seem like such a bad plan, but now we know what happens to manatees. They float around trying to avoid being chopped in half by boats, hoping to meet up with another manatee and procreate, knowing that their numbers are diminishing rapidly and the chances of them meeting another manatee are becoming slimmer. How very sad all over again.