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About More Voices

Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.

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Death Watch


Even dying, Dad fills the hospital bed. He's a big man. His slumped body bears two bed sores, one on each leg. A matching set.

Once, he ruled me. A slap of one hand hand here. A smack of his other hand there. "I'll give you something to cry about."

I wipe my tears as I sit near his hospital bed. Did he just yell at me? His eyes are still closed, and I realize he hasn't spoken. Not since his "Hello, sweetie" as I walked into the room.

For the first time, I see him as he is now. Old, frail, naked under twisted bedclothes. I get up out of my chair, walk a few steps over to the bed and smooth the top sheet over him. Then, dragging my chair, I get as close to his bedside as I can. I squeeze his hand. He squeezes back.

Roberta Beary
Bethesda, Maryland