I am surprised every time that I see my father now. He has lost more than forty pounds, gone down three pants sizes. He wasn't big before and now he looks like a lollipop--his large round head atop that skinny frame. I can't help commenting on it, even though I know it is awful, because I am so jarred every week. I've only seen legs that thin in commercials for Feed the Children. His watch spins around his wrist.
I forget he is sick.
I forget and then I see his skinny knees and the deep creases around his eyes and it all comes back. The fear. The worry. My mother and I cluck around him like deranged hens trying to find things he will eat. We nag him into wearing pants that fit around the waist instead of ones several sizes too big.
He is a different person. I know my father always imagined he would die young and spent a lot of time trying to protect my mother. He has always been over-insured. He worked brutal hours trying to earn enough money. Now he has reached the age he never thought he would and his health is threatened. He retired, even though financially it is causing a serious shit-storm, and I can see him have to re-arrange his whole way of thinking. He is a different person because I can see now that he sees that this is what he has been working for--there is no future time to worry about. Enjoy your wife, love on the grandbabies, take a deep breath because this is IT.
He is sick but there is something else. A bit of ease around the eyes. A comfort in his slightly baggy skin. A comfort with saying how he feels in a way he never would before. I hate what brought us all here and I would give almost anything to make him well again. But I like this version of my father. The one that comes up and eats a braised chicken (no salt) and fixes my doorknob and chases my daughter and doesn't worry about what time it is. Who just sits on the couch and watches baseball and just IS. He could never do that before.
I hope he can hang onto this feeling, this comfort. Maybe it will help us all with what is coming.