When the phone rang at 3:00 a.m., as I reached out my hand to answer it I knew the call was bringing bad news. On the other end of the line, I heard my dad's croaky, Parkinsonian voice stammer,"Rozzie, I'm so cold. Come here and help me; I can't reach the blanket to cover myself." It seemed like forever before he was able to squeeze out the additional information that he'd called the front desk at the assisted-care facility where he lived, but Jose, the night attendant, had said he was alone and couldn't leave the desk, even for a few minutes.
I told my dad I'd take care of the problem, dialed the front desk number, and listened to Jose explain that the other night attendant had left for an emergency, and he was under strict orders to never leave the desk unattended.
So in the dark of night, I put on my sweats, left a quick note for my husband on the kitchen table and drove the half-mile to the care facility. When I opened the door to my dad's room, I found him lying on his twin bed dressed only in an undershirt and boxer shorts, with his blanket strewn on the floor. I walked over and kissed him, wiped the tears from his eys with a tissue and said, "Daddy, I'm here. I'll take care of you." I picked up the frayed blanket, cocooned it around his scrawny frame and said, "How's that Dad?" He whispered, "Much better, Sis. Thank you."
I sat there next to him for several hours, holding his wrinkled hands in mine. I sat there as cars whizzed by along Westwood Boulevard. I sat there until the sun began to rise over Los Angeles. I sat there until the morning staff arrived, and I felt I it was okay to leave my dad--that he'd be safe, and warm, for one more day of his life.
Los Angeles, California