I wasn’t prepared for his attack, coming off the week in the hospital where he lay in a drug-induced delusion. I got lazy and soft, enjoying conversations like, “How are you feeling today, dad?”
“I like horses.”
“Oh. Okay then. What do you like about horses?”
“2 o’clock. Definitely at 2 o’clock.”
After a bit, my conscience did get the better of me and I alerted one of the nurses.
“Uh, do you realize my father isn’t making any sense?”
She looked at me blankly. “What do you mean? He made perfect sense this morning.”
“Uh, I don’t think so, because when I spoke with him on the phone last night, he was out of it.”
She stomped into the room.
“Evan! Do you know where you are?” My father playfully hid his face with his hand. “I’ll give you a choice Evan. Are you home or in the hospital or are you at the zoo?”
My father smiled, almost coquettishly, and affirmatively answered. “HOME!”
I looked at her, trying not to appear smug. “I’ll call the doctor,” she said. Good idea.
The doctor came, took one look and said, “He’s zonked. I don’t think he was like this yesterday.”
Oh contraire, doctor.
So they lowered his medicine, and over the next couple of days, I saw some improvement in coherency; then the irritation started creeping back in, until ultimately he returned to his generally miserable, suffering self who above all hated to be in the hospital with people telling him what to do and where he couldn’t go. His disposition was worse but he was getting better.
The doctors informed me that they intended to release him to rehab. Since he had gone to the hospital with nothing but the monkey on his back, I needed to do a little shopping to get him some extra clothes. As I dialed his room, my fingers were crossed that the call would be quick and painless. Maybe a nurse would be with him, and then I’d have to call back later. I could only hope, but hope had failed me before.
“When am I getting out of here?”
Uh oh, not a good start.
“I don’t know. You’ve gotten much better. The doctors are saying that you should go to a rehabilitation facility for a week or so to regain your strength.”
“Oh so you’re in charge, making all my decisions. I don’t have any say.”
“Uh, no. You can do whatever you like. I’m relaying what the doctor’s say.”
“I want to go home. I need to think about what I have to do.”
Gritting teeth. “What you need to do is get yourself a little healthier and then go home.”
“You just want to ship me off! Why is every idea I have wrong?!”
Anger rising to intolerable levels, “If you go home, you will lose your benefits to get into the rehab place. Plus, you are not fully recovered and they would take better care of you.”
“So you’re setting me up to fail because I want to go home and MOMMY won’t let me!”
That was it.
I exploded; the words shooting from my mouth like firecrackers. Expletives that one shouldn’t say to anyone, much less one’s sick father, but out they came. F’n crazy. F’n on drugs. F’n ruining my life. On and on I went. Bad daughter. Bad moment.
I took a deep breath. Then I took another. There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Dad?” I asked, shaky from my emotions and outburst.
“I’m here.” He answered, smaller since I had cut him down.
He whimpered a bit.
“Dad, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lose it like that. I was just…”
He cut me off. “I’ll go to the rehab.”
“Really?” I was taken aback. “I mean good. I know you hate it, but it’s for the best.”
“I know and it’s not your fault. We’re in a bad place. I mean, I’m in a bad place and you’re stuck. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah.” I agreed, feeling all my energy drain. “It’s really not good. But tomorrow, it might be better.”
There it was again, hope.
“You sure can curse.” He almost laughed.
“So it seems.” I agreed with equal amusement. “Don’t make me do it again.” I teased.
But we both knew that he would.