Saturday, August 27, 2011

Only In His Mind...



As he lay in the hospital bed I watched as he drew in a deep breath as if he was smoking a cigarette. I had seen him do this thousands of times over the years, but this was a hallucination. The pain medication had taken him to a place he loved, a place of indulgence with cigarettes, beer, and all his favorite food. His imagination took him there because he had not been allowed to go for weeks since his colon ruptured.

My father was a strong, virile man, my hero. When this awful tragedy happened I watched as he became a weak, frail man who didn’t know the world around him. And this day he was no different. He was enjoying his imaginary game so I played right along.

“Hey can you get me a chocolate milkshake?” I shook my head and said,” Are you sure about that?” He took another long draw from his Winston and said, “Oh yeah, it will feel good on my throat, I’m so thirsty.” Knowing he could not have anything pass between his lips I told a lie, something I didn’t do very often to my daddy, “Ok, next time I go to McDonald’s I’ll bring back a chocolate milkshake.” That seemed to satisfy for the moment and he replied, “Thanks sweetie and how bout gettin’ me another pack of cigarettes too?”

When I left his room that day I did not know it would be the last conversation I would have with him. The next day he was put into a drug induced coma and passed away a week later. He is in heaven waiting on me now.

We found two cigarette butts in his heavy marble ashtray at home. I keep them in a Ziploc bag, in a box, in my closet, in my mind, in my heart…




This was originally written as a response for The Red Dress Club but I am submitting it today for a new prompt from The Dare To Share link up Loss over at the The Lightening and the Lightening Bug.

7 comments:

letmestartbysaying said...

Death is so complicated, as is memory. I think I read this the first time as well, since we both responded to the smoking prompt. Both our fathers were huge smokers, and died in hospitals. Crazy stuff.

Jackie said...

What a touching memory. The promise of the milkshake knowing you'll never be able to fulfill his wish. It's so tough, watching a person we love slowly slip away.

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Oh, this reminds me so much of my PawPaw...he died from cancer and smoked for years and years as a young man. He didn't quit nearly soon enough, as the smoking eventually took his life. Your promise of the milkshake nearly made me cry. My grandfather adored ice cream, but because of the nature of his cancer, he couldn't eat any. I still hate that he had to be deprived of such a simple thing that he loved so much in his final days.

Such a sad memory...thank you for sharing it with us and linking it up over at The Lightning and the Lightning Bug!

julie moore said...

So sad to hear about your loss Katie. It is hard to lose thsoe we love and lose them too soon.

Lance said...

I remember reading this the first time you posted. It affected me then and it affects me now. Excellent writing.

Sandra said...

I have to say I so relate to your story. My father smoked for all the years I knew him. He died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 54. I was 26. Even though I know it was the cigarettes that slowly killed him, the smell of tobacco makes me nostalgic. Loved this post. It's not often I'm "touched" but you did it.

May said...

The milkshake got me too. When there is really nothing you can do for a person it is just so hard. Your love is so deep you are willing to do anything...even the impossible. The milkshake represents that depth of love to me.