Monday, June 14, 2010

The Other Guy

The other guy is dying. He'd had a parallel experience to my father's: laborious decline into dementia, a stint in a psych hospital and then, the dementia ward. Like my father, he was combative and aggressive. Like my father, he had a strong and healthy body. The wife was bereft. We'd stood together in the hall, the wife, my mother and I, listening to his sputtering rage. We huddled in the lobby. We compared. We commiserated. We held hands.

Now they've called in hospice. His body is trapped under a belt, his wrists strapped to the bed rails. The medication has reduced him to silence.

"How're you doing, Mr. Hale?" I shout into his room as my father and I pass by. My father walks with a staggered gait, a ghost in orthopedic sneakers. Our elbows are linked; I clench his arm to my side. He is not dying.

How're you doing? What a stupid question.

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