Papa Wally, my husband’s father, is in his late 80’s. He’s suffered falling accidents, his balance is poor and his legs give out sometimes. One fall left his arm purple and stiff and ultimately unusable. Each time we see Papa Wally, he is more bent at the waist, seemingly frail as a bird, but Wally is a fighter, tenacious, crabby and determined when he wants to be—which seems to be at the most unlikely moments.
Now in the long weeks after a terrible fall backwards, during which he hit his head and fractured vertebrae and his pelvis and his elbow…days and weeks of excruciating rehab, Papa Wally hunkers down, focuses in. He wants to go home–not to Jesus in heaven–to Betty Lou on Broadstone Road.
James, his son who lives far away in Montana, calls Wally every day. The only days they don’t talk is when James’ work schedule doesn’t match up with Papa’s PT, shower, dinner and early bedtime and the two-hour time difference, which usually means a window between 4:00 to 5:00 pm MST. Scheduling is a hassle every day.
Calling is hard, heart breaking: what with the irritating schedule and difficulty communicating, with the sorrow of not being next to Wally in person, and because those 20 minutes feel futile most days. You see, Papa can’t remember. The drugs fog his brain. He’s too tired to hold a conversation on most days.
Still, my husband called his dad every single day during the endless days, nights, and weeks that Papa Wally was in rehab.
He will not be alone; I will make sure of it.
As if I can.
I pray it. I will it.
I will do my damnedest to grant Dignity. Grace. Stability. Family.
I am, in part, the answer to my own prayer, I guess. If only with a 15 minute call today, and again tomorrow, and the next.
Dad’s voice is muffled and confused. A child’s voice.
A turkey sandwich or meatloaf today? He can’t remember. The details mix up. Did you sit outside? He can’t remember.
One thing only Dad never forgets:
“I love you,” he says, his voice strong now
at the end of the call, each and every day.
The gift is mine.
Dad gives me dignity, grace, stability, family.
He knows he is the answer to an adopted son’s prayer.
I am loved.
August 2, 2015 by Donna for James