Those last two weeks, when I knew that my father was getting close to the end, I’d visit him every morning and every evening. He was sleeping 22+ hours a day at this point, only awakening for a few minutes when someone was speaking to him.
In the morning, I’d arrive early and sit with him and talk to him for a few minutes. I’d put my arm around his shoulder and tell him that everything was going to be okay. He was a little agitated at times, and worried about so many things. I told him that I was taking care of everything, and that there was nothing he needed to worry about.
He’d frequently tell me, “I don’t know what I’d do without you and Wayne.”
In the evenings, I’d arrive around 7 pm and sit by the bed and turn on a night light and fix his blankets and turn up the heat (per his request). Our evening ritual could best be described as me “tucking him into bed.” Tuesday evening, four days before he passed on, I visited him and he was very worried.
The first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s my little shoe?”
I knew exactly what he was talking about. About three months earlier, he’d sent me to the store to get him a tape dispenser. At Office Depot, I was looking for a boring old beige dispenser when my eyes lighted upon a bright red high-heel shoe tape dispenser. The moment I showed it to him, his eyes lit up and he laughed out loud.
“Oh that’s great!” he exclaimed. “I like that.”
For the rest of his days, he kept it right beside him. And when the nurses came into his room to clean up and put things away, he’d always dig out that little red shoe and put it back on his favorite end table, beside his favorite chair.
At the end, he was bedridden and it was Tuesday night that he asked about his “little shoe.”
“Dad,” I told him, “it’s in a small box under the end table where the nurse put it. I can see it right now. Do you want me to put it on your dresser so you can see it?”
“No,” he replied. “As long as I know where it is.”
Throughout Wednesday, I stayed with him, leaving at 6:30 pm when a freshly hired private duty nurse came in to sit with him. It was not a good day for him. Thursday, I was with him throughout the day. He was more comfortable and happy, but no longer in his right mind. He lost consciousness Thursday evening and passed Friday morning at 2:25 am.
Monday night, as I was cleaning out his apartment, I happened upon that little red shoe and tears filled my eyes.
Even though I have plenty of tape dispensers, I couldn’t bear to put his “little shoe” in the give-away pile. I dropped it into a box and brought it home with me. And I’m not even sure why.
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