Dad is listening to the Lawrence Welk show. The crease in his brow softened since we put the video tape in a few minutes ago. He has not eaten food for 7 days. He is not drinking water. His condition “took a turn” on Friday as his body began the final stages of shutting down. Paul and I arrived straight from the airport late Saturday night after completing the Nestle chocolate sculpture commission in Wisconsin. Robin and I are taking shifts; Dad is in the TV room next to the living room where we can keep watch. He spent most of the last weeks in his old blue easy chair but it grew uncomfortable for him so a hospital bed was delivered earlier today.
Dad is mostly in another world during the spells when he is awake – a world where he has been bear hunting and where he paid the popcorn man for two bags of popcorn. He lights imaginary cigarettes after pulling an invisible lighter from the pocket of his sweatpants. Late this afternoon with his own hand shaking uncontrollably, Dad gallantly lifted mother’s hand to his lips for a kiss. When Dad planted a delicate kiss on mom’s hand, a spark beamed from the pale blue part of his heavily lidded eyes - a little half-grin shown on his unshaven face.
The jaundice has darkened his skin and eyes with a deep sickly yellow. He cannot swallow pills or liquids but doesn’t seem to have symptoms other than pain and agitation thus the medications are no longer necessary. Pain relief is delivered automatically by pump into his permanent IV. We boost the pain meds by pushing the button on the pump in 15 minute intervals. Every four hours we give him a few drops of medicine to help with the agitation. Mom is holding up - proving quite strong. Dad shrinks, his breath becomes shallower and his body weakens.
We keep close by.