Wednesday, May 17, 2006

part 11

My mom, my brother and I are sitting on the empty bed in my dad’s double room at Baldock. This is the nursing home where he would spend the last three months of his life – today, it’s Thanksgiving. We’re visiting him for the afternoon before having dinner at Dale’s parents’ house. My dad will die in about two weeks.

“We have to go,” I say to him. He’s lying on the bed, propped up by pillows. He’s covered by one of the brown, fuzzy blankets emblazoned with a giant lion’s face that we’ve had in our house all my life.

“Where are you going?”

“We’re having dinner at the Young’s in Ligonier.”

“Oh,” he says. He looks around the room, up at the flickering scenes of the Food Network on the television in the corner. “Can you put my watch on for me?”

“You have your watch on,” I say. I look down at his wrist. He touches the face of his watch with fingers so skinny they look like sticks.

“I want my other watch.”

“You don’t need two watches.”

“I don’t have two watches.”

I fish through the drawer at his bedside table for the watch that hasn’t ticked in months. It has his phone numbers in it; maybe that’s why he won’t let it go.

“Joe, you don’t need another watch, you have your watch on,” my mom says.

“Please just put it on,” he answers. “And can you get me a piece of candy? A red one.” I don’t know what it is, but cancer gave my dad a constant craving for hard candy.

I sift through Tootsie Rolls, Werther’s Originals, bubble gum (which he always vetoed because it is not, in fact, a hard candy – even though my mom always shoveled some in the bag anyway). I find a cinnamon candy and unwrap it for him.

My brother and I walk outside while the nurse talks to my mom and dad. After the nurse leaves, my mom lingers in the room with him for a minute or two. They talk about nothing in particular; she unwraps a few more candies for him, places them on the table next to his head. She puts the second watch on his wrist beside the first.

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