Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Singing Bee

“I don’t know what’s happening. I just wasn’t sure.”

She looked at me, tears welled up, but never spilled over.

“I was scared. Thanks for coming.”

“It’s fine. I’m glad you called.”

I looked at him. Change was underway. His eyes were slow to steer my way. Lifting his head to see was a chore. Trying to change the subject, I asked her, “How long has it been since your marriage?”

“It was sixty years as of June 20th.”

She paused, smiled, and looked at him. “It doesn’t feel like sixty years , does it?”

Seemingly intuitively, he replied, “No, it doesn’t.”

He drifted back to somewhere between sleep and consciousness, his head leaning to the left. By now, he spent more time sleeping than awake, but somehow knew when to wake and adjust his seat, raw from constant sitting. His foley dangled to the floor, his legs were now too weak to support him. She sat staring at him, unsure what to say, but I could tell a million memories flooded her mind. She looked for anything to say. “Did you have enough to eat?”

“Sure did, Mom.”

“You know, last night I thought I was going to die,” he said softly.

“How so?” I asked.

“I was in bed and breathing kind of shallow, like I was short of breath.” He stopped to breathe. “But it was nice, I was comfortable, peaceful. I wasn’t scared. I wish I’d gone then.”

“God’s going to decide, Dad. You’ll know when its time.”

“The sooner the better,” he said and drifted back to his level of consciousness just above sleep. Shortly he aroused again, “Would you turn on the TV?”

“It’s the one thing I’m good at these days,” she said. She reached over and pushed the power button on the remote. “Nights are tough,” she said. “He sleeps with the TV on.” The TV came alive with “The Singing Bee.”

His head raised slighty, his gaze turned upward, then he saw what was on.

“I hate that show,” he uttered and drifted off to pseudosleep once again.


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