On Speaking of His Welfare

The adult living facility administration called us in
and sat us down to talk about a man with failing
kidneys, heart, and lungs. This weakened man, slouched
in a recliner, barely able to lift his left hand to his mouth,
once carried his young bride with ease, as if she were
a twenty-pound bag of sugar, carelessly thrown over
a shoulder. We met to decide the future of my dad
who had worked seventy hours a week, in a hot nursing home
kitchen, summer and winter to take care of his wife
and six children. He’s no longer enjoying life.

What quality is there to his life? He lived a great life.

Their statements focused on past tense. The term “hospice”
was lightly sprinkled throughout the conversation
with the omission of its definition. We sat, and they talked.

As the minutes ticked by, I remembered my dad returning
home from work: a bag of cashew nuts in one hand; a bag
filled with snack cakes and comic books in the other.
The cashews for my mother who loved them, the comics
for me and my younger brother. I never had the guts
to tell my dad that I hated DC superheroes.

Management continued with their vague flowery words; the real intent behind this sudden meeting finally becoming apparent: the cost of your father’s
care is too much, he’s using up too much of our manpower.

Let him go so we can move on to someone worthier of our time.
I held my mother’s hand as we sat silent, afraid of the screams
that would escape from our lips if we opened our mouths to speak.

In his room, my father sat in his recliner watching the news reporter
cover the primary elections. When we returned to his room, he asked
if he would be able to vote in the upcoming elections.

Written by Arlene Antoinette – Valrico, Florida

Feature Photo by Alex Boyd

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