Cook me like a potato!
In the twilight hours, betwixt and between night and morning, evening and night, I was able to collect some beautiful memories of my father. During the three months that he was on hospice care at our home (having lived with us for six years prior to this) his bedroom became a central hangout, sort of like a train station enjoying the traffic of various travelers at different times of day. The kids would pop in after school, my youngest got in the habit of climbing into bed with dad, even if it was just for a few minutes of elbow to elbow time. I know he treasured that skin touch contact.
At this point, dad was skin and bones, hovering around 85 pounds, down from his peak of life weight of 135. One evening, as I was putting lotion and rosewater on his torso – it helped with the itching – he started on a funny train of thought.
I never knew you were like this. Why are you doing everything to please me?
If I asked you to roast me a potato, you’d do that too, but how can I ask you to do these things? I never felt so nourished before.
What he said was true, since dad was always the one taking care of everyone else in the household, you could never get him to sit still, to stop, to relax, not if there was any work to be done. If you served him a special treat, he would invariably leave half of it untouched. The kids will want a taste when they get home from school. Feed them, they are growing. It wasn’t until his own body stopped cooperating, to the point when he said it was as if even the clothes he was wearing were too heavy for him to walk unaided from one room to the other. The sweaters he wore to warm his bones weighed him down unbearably.
That evening I told him he deserved to be nourished and then he got silly:
I’d as soon have you put me in the oven and roast me like a potato! I think I’m just about done!
Tim and I looked at each other and wondered if he was finally entering some kind of delirium associated with the end of life. We just chuckled and told him he didn’t have enough meat on him to cook.
I just want your body to be peaceful and comfortable Dad, as I continued stroking his back. This is all for you, don’t worry about a thing.
Well, I’m not used to that, replied the stoic old Chinese man.
Image: photo of Dad modeling one of mom’s vintage hats during the weeks before he died. The hats deserve a post of their own…