Whenever I'm away from America for too long, I start to get afraid that I won't see my father ever again, and there is so much that I want to tell him, about my life here, about my kids, about what's in my heart. Outdoorsman suggested that I write letters, e-mail them to my mother and have her read them to him. I started a few months ago. I send him a new letter every month, and my mother reports to me after she reads the lateat one. He loves them, she tells me. He glows when I read them to him.
I sent a new letter a while ago, and my mother has not yet told me how my father liked it. I asked her if she has had a chance to read it yet to him.
She paused. "No. Not yet. Sorry, I just don't think he'll understand it."
I had sent it a week ago. Usually he is lucid at least for a few hours in that span of time. "Is he okay?"
My mother sighed. "He thinks that he's in Florida."
"Did...you ask him if it was nice?"
"He smiled. I think he had a good time."
"Could be worse, then."
"Yeah. I'll let you know when I read the letter to him."
"Thanks. Tell him I love him."
"And to send me a postcard."
We laughed. We hung up. And I cried, because my Abba, who has lost everything, is also losing his mind.
A friend of mine just lost her father. He was a strong healthy man, and he was diagnosed grimly 2 years ago. He lived on borrowed time until last week. We had once jokingly referred to ourselves as the Dying Fathers Club, but I had known all along that she would leave the club before me. I am sad for her; she clung to hope until almost the end, when hospice took over her father's care--and a teeny tiny part of me? Is not sad for her. Is glad for her. Because it's OVER. The tension, the--is it now? Is this it?--that has been my companion for so many years--gone. It's horrible. It's so sad. But he is at peace, and you are not jumping when the phone rings at an odd hour, or running through the plans of where to leave the kids in your head late at night when you cannot fall asleep.
It's true, when they are gone, you cannot talk to them ever again. But I can't talk to my father now. He's too far away. His body is here, true. But his mind? His mind is in Florida.