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Tag: ill parent

When You Don’t Know What to Hope For

 
My mother lies quietly in the hospital bed that has replaced her regular bed, now that she can no longer get up on her own. Every day she stares at the TV, appearing to watch it with interest. When I come into her room, she smiles and tries to say hello–in a voice that is barely a whisper. Her eyes sparkle a little. In my own discomfort, I begin asking simple questions, hoping to

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What If I Die Now?

 
The mood was grim in our house on this night, as it always was when my mother was at her sickest. My mother was suffering at the hands of what I know now to be systemic rheumatoid arthritis: the pain was clearly eating up her soul and body alike.
I looked at her as I helped with her evening pills, hoping they would bring some magic to lift the cloud hanging above us. I

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When the Phone Rings at Night

“I’m at the hospital,” my mother said.”Talk to the neurosurgeon.”
The ringing phone had roused me out of a deep sleep. Already, my heart was racing, and I was wide awake as the doctor began to speak.
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Halloween Heartache

It was one hour past midnight, late enough that even the college students who lived in the apartment building across the street had changed their Halloween costumes for pajamas, turned off their lights and fallen into a sugar-induced sleep. I lay in bed, remembering the Halloweens of my youth when Dad and I had gone trick-or-treating together. He had protected me from the goblins, witches and ghosts that had roamed the streets of our neighborhood, and I

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The Baby Monitor

 
My parents slept together in the room next to mine for the last three years. They passed away this spring within three weeks of each other.
 
I invaded their privacy at night because I was so afraid I’d miss them gasping for breath or crying out in pain. I bought a baby monitor. 
 
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Nunc dimittis

 
My father, a pathologist, was diagnosed with late-stage gastric cancer soon after I was married. He knew exactly what the diagnosis meant, but he enjoyed life for another two years. Then he stopped responding to treatment and began to decline over the winter. He and my mother were happy to learn I was pregnant with their first grandchild, due in June.
 
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“Groanings Too Deep for Words”

She hadn’t been able to talk for several days. I don’t know what robbed my mom of her speech. Was morphine the culprit, with its ability to dull both mind and body? Did sheer exhaustion from laboring over each breath leave her too tired to talk? Or maybe her pain was so severe that she could not give voice to its intensity. But what she couldn’t speak with words, she

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An Act of Love

For sixty-seven years, my dad was my best friend. We enjoyed walking and talking, taking long drives while licking ice cream cones, traveling, and just sitting in companionable silence. 

We were best friends, but we always respected each other’s physical privacy. All of this changed when I became Dad’s caregiver. 

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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.”
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Body Language

Alan Harris

after my father had his stroke
we never spoke again
but that didn’t stop us
from reading each other’s faces

recognizing the punctuated pauses
periods and question marks
etched in eyes, sighs and sad smiles

It took both hands to hold one of his
that first day in the hospital
as my eyes whispered how much I cared
and his smile replied,

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A 3:00 a.m. Phone Call

 
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

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