One of the most heartfelt and entertaining evenings we had together was the night the fire alarms on Dad’s floor went off. They were loud and clearly indicating something was happening just outside his hospital room. The funny thing is, that still makes me chuckle, is that it was the sirens from the fire trucks outside the hospital below his window that woke him up…
…turned out be burnt toast from the kitchenette…which we later made our inside joke…
…like when you were being hoisted in that contraption thing that was supposed to lift you from your bed to the wheelchair and it didn’t work right, and you were left dangling in midair, in your ill-fitting hospital gown, burnt toast!
…like when we were bored in your room, so I wheeled you down to the gym to shoot some hoops and the doors were locked. After 9:00 pm and the gym closed?!? burnt toast!
…or like when your feet on the pedestals of the wheelchair didn’t quite clear people’s shins or hospital wall corners, and no it wasn’t my driving, burnt toast!
…the best was that one morning at breakfast, when I lifted the lid on your plate…burnt toast!!!
Anyway, that night, you couldn’t get back to sleep, so we sat up in the bed, played with the up down buttons until we weren’t sliding down anymore and stared at the wall. I don’t remember how our conversation started; but you shared how brave you thought I was.
It was only burnt toast, Dad…
I asked why you would say that…I was speechless in that moment and taken off guard. You told me of specific moments you were proud of how brave I was. I guess I didn’t always see those moments throughout my life as being anything other than doing what was right and what was necessary. Perhaps, I was brave. And to hear you say it as you saw me, was so meaningful and kind of you.
I saw how brave was supposed to look like, Dad, it looked like you. You showed me how to stand tall and walk through life with my head held high. As I have said, I wanted to be like you since I was a little girl. I have always been intently watching and listening.
You told me I didn’t need to answer to false words spoken from false lips; that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but so what, re-plan. You had a way, Dad, of rolling with the punches.
As the night went way to dawn, we knew the morning nurse would be making rounds, breakfast was on its way, and it would be time for me to go home.
What had started with burnt toast entertainment; ended profoundly with my most memorable and grateful moment with you,…with the start of that new day, you softly said to me, “you’re a class act.”
I learned from the best, Dad…have a better day than yesterday and I’ll see you tonight.