Monday, October 5, 2009

Return of Florence Nightingale

Last Thursday I got a call from John Roushey, my father's neighbor. He had stopped over to help Dad get his garbage ready for the next day's pick up and found him suffering terribly. "I've called Hospice and told them that your father probably should be hospitalized. I think you should come home."

I told him I would be there as soon as possible, which meant my arrival would at least be within the same day. I believe I've hinted at my inability to get out of the house quickly in an earlier post. "I have to shred last year's phone bills. I need to clean the hummingbird feeders. Oh, and I can't forget to alphabetize my breakfast cereal." Well, maybe it's not that bad, but you'd have to visit some parallel universe to see me get somewhere on the early side.

Four days later(just kidding), I'm in Trucksville, Pennsylvania, at the family manse. I took care of Dad's dog Bonnie and unloaded my 17 or 18 suitcases. I'm sure just about any circus travels lighter than I do, elephants included. I guess I have more than just a few issues.

Dad had been taken to the Hospice Unit at the Geisinger Hospital in South Wilkes-Barre. It really is quite the place and exactly where Dad should be. His room is spacious and private with a couch and a flat screen TV, a step up from his 13 inch analog with sub-basic cable. I had a hard time leaving the first night to go back to Dad's house where I knew the only channels I could get were standard broadcast, QVC, and a talking nun. It's comforting to know that I could remain shallow enough to be concerned about TV reception; one does not want to lose oneself in a time of crisis.

When I returned the next day, I had Gracie with me, but left her in the car in the parkade. Just for the hell of it, I casually asked the nurse if they allowed dogs on the floor. Actually, my question was pre-meditated, as she and I talked about dogs the night before. She spoke of her daughter's golden retriever with a great deal of fondness. I figured she might be Gracie's ticket to the unit.

Bingo! I got clearance and went downstairs to get my canine Marilyn Monroe.

Gracie entered the building with her best "Can I have fries with that shake?" wiggle and an air of enthusiasm as if she knew she was back on the job. We stepped out of the elevator and onto the fifth floor. Her smile leaped from face to face as we walked down the hall to Dad's room. Bouts of heavy petting ensued.

The bitch was back.

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