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.