When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling bad.
–Rogers & Hammerstein
Our puppy Max has eaten more rocks. So I call the vet. My sister’s dog, Eve, is having puppies under Daddy’s bed. So I call my sister, Christi.. I watch two lab technicians haggle, before one finally draws the short straw, to draw Daddy’s blood through his paper-thin skin. Who can I call to fix this?
Sometimes I wonder if I believe myself when I tell others that Daddy is holding his own. Dad actually does very little on his own. My aunt cooks Daddy’s meals, a nurse’s aid helps him bathe and most everything else falls to Christi and me. Together we get Dad to the doctor, we make sure he has his daily meds, we take care of his housekeeping and his shopping and paying his monthly bills. So Daddy’s own is really being held up by others, mostly Christi.
While I hate to acknowledge it, time is slipping away from Daddy. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that Daddy is slipping away from time, as Dad lives one foot in this world and one planted in a place I cannot see. Maybe that’s why Daddy’s legs are so shaky. And though Dad has a walker to help him walk, I wish he had a talker to help him talk. Dad’s speech is shakier than his legs, as he struggles to string two words together.
One afternoon a week is spent with daddy, where within companionable silence, I do a little housekeeping and we watch a litle television. When it comes time for me to leave, he hoists himself up from his recliner to send me off with one long hug. He sometimes acts as if he doesn’t want to let go, as if he’s holding on for dear life. But then I find it’s my life he’s holding onto, as he struggles to tell me to drive safely. Last week he had weightier matters on his mind—so he pulled me close to whisper into my ear a string of words spoken so fast they bumped into one another as they tripped to get out of his mouth. I caught their semblance if not their exact meaning. And this made him happy. But not as much as when Christi walked through the door from her day of work. He may hold onto me for dear life, but we all know that Christi is his life.
It’s been a day of midwifery rather than housewifery, as I’ve intervened to bring about or keep life within this world. Eve is now resting comfortably with six little mouths to feed. Max has ejected all the rocks but has a surprisingly mild case of Parvo – we are told he will recover ‘just fine.’ And Daddy’s about the same. With me wrapped in his arms, Daddy’s holding his own.