My father is so strong. So resilient. And yet, he is tethered to life by tubing. He tells me that it is his lifeline – and he knows how far it will reach: to the back patio to take the trash out, to the front patio to check the mail, and all around the first floor.
But it doesn’t reach the basement. It can’t reach his bedroom on the second floor. And it can’t reach my house in California – so I have come to Nebraska to see him.
The sound is the same: a whooshing noise that is quickly cut off. Silence, and then another whoosh. But the silence isn’t so quiet – it’s filled with motor sounds, water gurgle sounds, and breathe sounds. I hear those sounds, and I’m immediately taken back – taken back to that horrible time when I was hooked up to a machine – a machine that was my link to life. The machine that kept me breathing. But now, it’s not me breathing, not my breath and life that is so dependent. It is my father. And I am helpless.
I remember when I was little; you would come to wake me up in the morning. You would knock at my door, open n it a little, and softly call, “Lady Jayne, time to wake up.” I usually would already be awake, or wake up when you knocked. But I never said anything, because I loved to hear you call, “Lady Jayne.”
I remember when I got my first lead role in high school – “An Inspector Calls.” I didn’t even think you knew about it – or anything! But there you were on opening night – bouquet of flowers (yellow roses) in hand. And afterwards, you said, “Great job, Lady Jayne.”
And college - ha! Remember when I went to Kearney, Ne? And that pipe broke on the car – the one by the muffler? I called you and asked if I should stay and get if fixed, or come home. You said that I should take a look at it and do what I thought was right. So, I crawled under the car, pushed that pipe up, made a “U” from a wire hanger, and wrapped the entire contraption in duck tape – and drove the 2+ hours home. You came out of the house, crawled under the car, crawled out, went into the house, returned with the Polaroid camera, crawled back under the car to take a picture, came back out, grinning from ear to ear and said, “Great job, Missy.”
I have been truly blessed to have you as a father. Thank you for always thinking that I could do anything. Shoot! I think I always believed I could do anything, because you believed that I could!
It hurts to see him like this: This is a man who flew planes over Vietnam and Cambodia (although we still aren’t supposed to know about that part of that war). This man who carried the 12-year-old me into the hospital with a ruptured artery in my nose now struggles to carry a small load.
But still, he is strong. Still, he is resilient. He has already pissed off and impressed the hospice nurses. Pissed them off because he insists on driving to McDonalds for breakfast each morning. Impressed them because he seems to be defying the odds by getting better.