My dad at age 7

Just To Reach You

The fifties are a season of loss. Energy and memory ebb. Your body slips into second gear.  Most devastating is the loss of family and friends to age and illness. Sometimes it’s just too much. This is one of those times.

Last week I called my dad and could barely hear him. He sounded so weak, with a voice like onion skin. He spoke in half sentences so our conversation was a puzzle I couldn’t assemble. I was certain he was dying so I flew home the next day. Things were not as bad as I thought. My dad wasn’t dying, but his mind had split in two. He was either loud and mean or kind and whispery. He understood us better than we understood him. When he wanted my attention, he grabbed my hands and squeezed the heck out of them. I thought he was doing it on purpose when it was the best he could do.

I returned to Atlanta last week and things changed. Yesterday, the doctor said my father is ready for hospice. We are going home tomorrow morning. Just to reach him before he dies, it’s all we want.

After I got the news about my dad, I drove to Target to add a few check marks to a to-do list that didn’t really need doing. Just as I straightened the wheels of the car to finish parking Melissa Etheridge started singing Come to My Window and I joined her. The song was so soothing. I didn’t realize why until I played it this morning over and over, singing and dancing like a lunatic in the kitchen. I listened to all the lyrics for the first time. It’s about loss and heart-break. The refrain, “just to reach you” slayed me. The tears poured because I realized how much I want to reach my dad while he can still hear me as well.

I need to reach my dad and tell him one more time that I love him and add that all is forgiven. I haven’t told him I forgive him yet. It may be as important as saying I love you for both of us.