I have a small sense of relief now. I brought the kids up to see my dad at the hospital this morning. He's on some new drugs that stop the restlessness and moaning so now he's sleeping more soundly and it's not the same hard scene it was the other day.
Of course, he's lost most of his hair and didn't have his teeth in so to the girls he didn't quite look like himself and it wasn't until I lifted Connor up close that he recognized it was Papa but they got to see him none the less.
They brought his Father's Day card and we hung it on the wall near his bed. They coloured and played and that was fine. And when we left they all gave him a kiss. I feel better knowing that they were able to see him at least once more. And though he's not awake I'm sure he heard them there and felt their love.
I was thinking on the drive home about something my brother said while we were there. He commented on the way my Dad is now is a better way to remember him than he was a few days ago. Part of the reason why we haven't brought the kids was because we didn't want them to remember their Papa being in a bad way. But you know, I don't think it works that way.
I've got 30 + years of memories of my Dad. I remember things like how every night at bedtime instead of reading me stories he would bring in the cub scout handbook (he was a cub leader for my brothers) and we'd sing songs from the cub scout book (like Found A Peanut and On Top of Spaghetti) I remember my Dad pitching the tent in our backyard so we could camp out and night and how he never got mad when I would get scared and want to go back in. I remember how my Dad was the 'quiet one' and my best friend nearly having a stroke when my Dad said good morning to her one day, despite the fact that she'd been living with us for about a month.
I remember him taking us to Thompson Park for barbecues and taking us roller skating at Roller World. I remember him let me drive his Mustang (though I'll bet he didn't really want me to) and him helping me pick out my first car (and then teaching me to drive it because it was a standard and I didn't know how to drive it) I remember seeing him play with my kids, calling each one of them his best friend when they were little or pretending that he was surprised when Mary would drink all of his milk at supper.
No matter the state I see my dad in now, those are the memories I will keep with me. Because it's not the last month that anchors my relationship with my dad, it's the 429 months before it.