The last time I was at this hospital, I was pretending to be an employee of Pifer Funeral Home so I could pick up my grandfather's death certificate. Time before that, I watched my grandfather get his last rites. Time before that, my throat was closing up and my fingers and toes turned the brightest blue. Time before that, I was born.
This time, it's Dad. My dad. I feel like I've read a million passages about the shock of seeing a parent in the hospital for the first time. I also feel like I'm supposed to ponder the inevitability of our body's eventual breakdown. Mortality. The loss of strength and ability. You know, that kind of shit, and I suppose it's supposed to feel profound or overwhelming or whatever. I'm not thinking about anything like that. Not at all. I'm thinking about how he looks without his false teeth. Old as hell. Looks like his Dad, Thorton. My only memories of Thorton are of him on his death bed, but that doesn't bother me so much. I think it's just unfortunate that my dad has frown lines like that. I was just wondering the other day about whether I'll have frown lines or laugh lines when I'm old as hell.
I think Dad wants me here to lighten the mood. Mom seems to be embarassing him by trying to help him. Right now she's writing down questions to ask the doctor: "Can I go to work on Monday?" ("I'm going to work on Monday!"), "Can I mow the lawn?" ("It doesn't need mowed for another week.") and "Can I go to Seattle?" ("I'm going to Seattle!"). She keeps repeating the questions so he'll remember to ask. He's getting mad and talking about his dick and keeps repeating "I hate this cathetar." I haven't really done a good job of lightening the mood - I'm embarassed and I can't stop looking at the bag of bloody piss by the foot of his bed. The image is good incentive to stop smoking. It's the color of fruit punch. Dad tells me that yesterday it was port wine. Am I supposed to laugh? I do.
Mom talks about the hospital visit I didn't tell anyone in my family about until after the fact. I think she's still mad about that, so I show her some cell phone pictures I took of my hospital stay. The view from my room, the tv on the wall, the individually wrapped piece of bread they give with meals (Dad is buttering his right now), and a picture of myself. Mom laughs a little but thinks it's strange. "Why would you take pictures of something like that?" Dad speaks up "She wants to remember, is all!" I smile. Dad gets it. He asks me to take his picture.
He laughs louder than I've heard in years and when I look at the picture, he's got the dumbest shit eatin grin I've ever seen. Good. I'm glad.