I visited my parents today. I brought my mom a chicken sandwich from Burger King with fries for my dad, as I usually do. French fries are one of the few foods Dad can still eat easily. Dad was asleep in the lift recliner in the living room while Mom and I ate in the kitchen. So we saved the fries for later, as we usually do.
Dad dozed on and off the entire time I was there which is pretty typical. He usually takes a nap from about 11:30 or 12:00 until 3:00 or 4:00.
After we finished eating, Mom and I sat in the living room. Dad continued to doze on and off. I tried to talk to him briefly during the times his eyes were open. He was pretty unresponsive, but that too is typical when he is tired or sleepy or has just woken up.
Often we talk around him now, as if he were an inanimate object in the room. Many times he pays no attention and never responds in any fashion, even to direct yes or no questions that require only a nod or shake of the head. When he is non-responsive, we talk around him.
Meanwhile, I helped Mom with some insurance paperwork she had. I cleaned off her email inbox. I showed her how to access her email on the Kindle Fire we bought her for her birthday last Tuesday. All the while Dad dozed on and off in the lift recliner covered with a light sheet, occasionally waking to watch the History Channel playing on the television across the room.
Often we live around dad now, as if he were an inactive occupant of the room.
I don’t have any idea what he is thinking, what he realizes, whether he cares that we talk and live around him. I wish I did. I truly wish I knew what he was thinking.
I wish I could talk to him and ask his opinion about something, anything. I always valued his opinions, checking my reasoning with his response, learning from his down-to-earth brand of common sense.
I wish he were a participant in our conversations. I wish he were a participant in our lives.
When it was time to go, I went over and hugged and kissed him as I always do, and he began to cry as he often does.
I don’t know why he cries.
“Don’t cry, Daddy,” I say. “It’s alright. Everything is going to be alright.”
I don’t know whether he believes me.
I don’t believe myself.