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My Call of Duty

He’s waiting for my call.

I can see him, crouched over on his bed, trying to rouse himself out of his stupor; hoping a call from me will do the trick, maybe give him some reason to wake up.

I don’t want to call.

I haven’t wanted to call in years. Decades, maybe. But it’s not about what I want, it’s about what he needs. And what he needs is for me to check in on him daily, just to show him someone still cares, that someone is interested in whether he lives or dies. And that someone is me. There is nobody else.

He had his home health aide there earlier but he slept through her entire shift, and now he’s woken up alone. The table is covered with medications of all colors and sizes. The room is littered with books and papers and boxes of clutter. Ash from the cigarettes he shouldn’t be smoking dusts the room.

Getting from the bed to the bathroom is a dangerous escapade with his weakened legs and broken body. Through heavily medicated eyes, he considers his path. It is all so overwhelming, he allows himself the pleasure of closing them.  Sleep is a beautiful thing.

By the time he opens them again, it is over 20 minutes later, but he doesn’t feel the passage of time. He generally doesn’t feel anything, but of course, the pain. And a nagging urge for the bathroom. He considers his walker a few feet away. He should use it for support. He has fallen at least three times this week, and his body is sore from the damage. He can’t fall again.

He wonders if it’s his body that breaks down and then he falls, or his brain that loses focus causing him to fall. Probably both. More than once, he has been woken by his home health aide on the floor, where he fell. The effort to get back up is too much. The frustration unspeakable.

He eyes the walker. In this crowded space, it can be as much an asset as a detriment. Is he strong enough to go it alone? A heavy, head drooping sigh causes him to look down at his feet and notice the rash creeping up his legs. Problems, everywhere he looks. His glance focuses in on the ice cream he took out hours ago, melted on the counter. Oh well. He can pour cereal in it and have it for breakfast, if he ever gets up.

He begins to close his eyes again, telling himself he needs just a little more rest before he makes the attempt, but really he’s just unable to find the motivation to move himself.

The phone rings, distracting his thoughts, waking him a bit, taking him to a more hopeful place.

He’s waiting for my call.



About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

67 responses »

  1. Holy schmoly. You left me wanting more and set a great mood. The ashes of the cigarette, the cluttered room, the reason why you don’t speak…. This sets a mood and delivers a punch.

  2. Winnie Schindler

    sad, but so true, its time, we all know what that time is.(with a heavy heart, we must make choices.

    On Tue, May 7, 2013 at 6:56 AM, Icescreammama

  3. I love the tone. The line, “he allows himself the pleasure of closing them” really captures the desperation one feels – when closing one’s eyes is the only escape. This is so beautifully written. I can see the room and smell the smoke.

  4. This is real “reality”………
    And when you write about reality ,there’s nobody who can reach your level!

  5. The narrative was almost as if I was sitting around in some chair in the same room as him and watching it all happen. My mom calls her mother just the same way every day and my grandma looks forward to these calls with almost the same fervour. Great post. 🙂

  6. Oh wow. My heart ached at this story. Great writing.

  7. So beautifully written. This post tugged on the heartstrings.

  8. Being someone’s lifeline is so difficult — I love how you don’t try to pretend that it’s romantic. Many hugs…

  9. Nicely written, as usual, and you’re not much to make me look forward to my golden years.

  10. I was not expecting this and you really got to me. I felt as if I was in the room. I have always been a fan of your writing, but this is a side I have never had the pleasure of seeing and it’s beautiful.

  11. Wow, you really set this scene. This post just blew me away. The writing from his point of view of being alone and waiting for your call is so powerful, and I could see the entire scene as if I was sitting right in that room with him.

  12. This post is so powerful, and honest and perfectly crafted.

  13. Well written from beginning to end. I definitely have to read the other posts in the series now.

  14. Whoa, you are on fire! Wow. My heart hurts reading this knowing you’re both in pain in such different ways. At the same time, I was awed by the voice and setting in this piece. Well done! And hugs to you both. You first.

  15. Oh my word. This is such a powerful post. You really sucked me in. And now I need to read the other posts. Big hugs, my friend!!! xo

    • thank you… it’s part of my life at this point. you get used to it, and you never get used to it. i try not to write about him too much, it’s depressing.

  16. This made me soooo sad. It’s so touching. I hope you’ll understand that I can’t read your other posts on your dad.

  17. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. Sending you strength and hugs.

  18. Intense but powerful

  19. nataliedeyoung

    The end of life is so hard, for everyone involved, especially with complicated relationships. We have gone through it in our family, and reading this made me say, “yes, this is what it’s like.”

  20. This is the stuff that makes us who we are…chisels us into the beautiful marble statues we begin to become. I respect you for your care of your father and wish you both the best at this point in your relationship. and, amazing writing…

  21. modmomelleroy

    A difficult part of life so well conveyed. Very moving.

  22. It is so hard being the caregiver. I read through the tags too…depression makes it all the more difficult to help. As sad as the story is, you took it down to the basic pieces. He’s alone, contemplating the bathroom effort and waiting. Always waiting. You are such a good story teller.

    • i appreciate your comment and thank you extra for reading some of my other posts about him (someone told me i should do that at the end of posts to encourage reader engagement…i don’t know.. did it work? )

  23. This is a poignant picture of a man trapped in his own world, both physically and mentally. I’m glad you’re calling. As hard as it is, it means you can feel that you are doing what you can in a bad situation.

  24. I just can’t even imagine how overwhelming it is for both of you. How difficult it must be. Beautifully written.

    • thank you. and i do write funny light stuff! haha! i came across your site from the reedster and noticed the prompt and it seemed to fit. thanks for stopping by and reading.

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  26. Hugs.

    *small tear*

    I hope you find the strength to call him. I haven’t and it’s almost a year my mom waits for my call.

  27. Congratulations on your win – well deserved! It’s not easy to write so beautifully about such a challenging time. All the best!

  28. Beautiful…not easy to do considering the subject. Sending hugs your way and a great big high five for a gorgeous piece of work.

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