He didn’t hobble toward ball field number two; he shoved his walker with purpose. Even tilted, he looked pretty good; eyes alert, dress casual and passably clean, disposition aloof but present. After three weeks in New York and countless years fantasizing about it, he finally felt well enough to make one of my boys’ baseball games.
“You gotta swing when it’s 3 and 2, kid!” he yelled at some boy I didn’t know, garnering a dirty look from some boy’s father.
I grimaced. “Dad, maybe keep your enthusiasm for the members of our family, please.”
He smiled,” clearly amused by himself. “Yeah, that guy didn’t appreciate my comment.”
This was the best I had seen my father in a long time and I tried without much success to appreciate the moment.
These last weeks have been enormously stressful. Applications for disability, transportation services and a downstairs unit had to be filled out, the right doctors found, Medicaid benefits approved to secure home health aides, visiting nurses and blah blah blah. We stand at the foot of a mountain of paper work, details and calls not returned.
But by far the biggest challenge is him.
He accidentally flooded the woman’s apartment below him by letting his sink overrun. Then he accidentally did it again. He accidentally pulled the emergency cord in the bathroom. He was confrontational with the nurse practitioner who came to help set up his medications. He didn’t go down to let in another NP.
Never ending, exhausting conversations saturate every space between the dramas. Pep him up, talk him down, find reasons for him to live. Be the happy voice, the scolding voice, the voice of reason. Even thinking about it makes my throat constrict.
Yet right now, he seems okay – his glassy eyes light as he watches the game, my other boys shyly stand near him and engage, he abandons his walker to hold on to the fence.
“Nice catch!” He yells to my son then turns to me, “Do you see the way he throws? He’s got confidence.”
I nod, glad that after weeks passed out in his chair, he’s found his voice and it’s not angry or miserable. It’s cheering.
Maybe we’ve turned a corner. Maybe it’ll be alright.
I allow just the smallest, tiniest, most miniscule molecule of hope to slip in, although at this point I don’t know how it’s even possible. Hope is a sneaky bastard.
The next morning social services call. They had just seen my father and found him extremely agitated and hostile with pills scattered everywhere. They regret to inform me that “mobile crisis” has been alerted and are on the way.
Maybe this is where it ends. Maybe it’s for the best.
At least he made it to a game.