Sunday, June 08, 2008

Paper thin

My daddy is such a shell of who he used to be. He is so frail. So fragile.

His feelings have always been frail and fragile. He would be wounded if I chose to spend the night at a friend's house instead of staying home with him on a Friday night. Paper thin skin.

Now, his whole being is paper thin. His belt holds up his jeans only because it rests on his hip bones. Kissing his cheek feels like pressing my lips up to a piece of slate. Hugging him means hugging myself too after I have already wrapped your arms around him once.

He says things that are irrelevant. The once lightening quick trial lawyer thought processes have been detoured by disease. It is almost more heartbreaking when he catches himself and tells you to "disregard what I just said." I might rather him not realize it.

Distances and spacial relations are confused. He goes upstairs to bed because he always had before they moved into a ranch. He sometimes still lives in Mississippi or California. It stings my soul when he forgets that I'm too far away to drop by and see him.

His nerves are frayed. Knowing that he must be somewhere at a certain time causes stomach wrenching anxiety. He needs more time. He needs more flexibility. What if he freezes and cannot move for 30 minutes? What if he has an accident after he has gotten dressed? What if he disappoints us by not being ready?

What if he disappoints us by not being who he used to be?

I know this man. He used to be my father. It is a role that I can only help him fill now. I have to concoct situations in which he can still be the father. Ask for advice that I don't really need. Let him help me even though I can do it faster on my own. Make it be that our roles don't feel reversed all of the time.

Even though so much of him is gone, I still know this man. There is so much of him still left in his eyes. In his smile. In his laugh.

He is still, and always will be, my Daddy.