He was lucid, feeling perky. Discussing his guests from the day before. His eyes and mouth watering as he talked about his craving for KFC (some chicken smuggling may occur today). His story is not mine to tell. But who will? His cards – most poignant from his son and gifts like mine, designed to make the giver feel good. Cards, words to make you cry and laugh and cry again. Regretting neither . . .
He was asking me if it was OK if he chewed on ice chips. Why? Apparently some of his guests found it annoying . . .
Who would be bothered by that? Why would he care?
Then his four nieces and nephews from Calgary swooped in (one travelled home from Singapore for Christmas to see Gary). Their magic and kindness filled his room. My time to go. They were all gracious in asking me to stay but they needed time with their uncle who’d known them all since they were born – and I had errands to do.
My errands done and failed efforts to get together with friends proved a suitable diversion. The BonTon Baker ways closed. What’s up with that? My waistline is grateful but I had my mouth watering for cheese buns and pecan rolls.
When I returned to his darkened room I found my weary friend asleep. Nurse informed me he was nauseated and sedated. I sat with him a while. His phone rang several times – a long though pleasant ring tone designed to wake anyone, He slept motionless but at ease. I went away. I’ll visit again today on my way out of Edmonton . . .
Each time we see people in our lives, we don’t expect it might be the last time. I’m certain he’ll be there again today. I have no idea if he’ll be awake or enveloped by a roomful of family, asleep . . . or __________.
Someone facing end-of-life experience is not unique. Like cliché tennis we banter with volleys of ‘we all die’. ‘It could happen to anyone’ and ‘when your number is up, you go’.
Getting older brings youthful bravado into specific relief. We are all going to go through this ourselves and with friends and family members.
It isn’t ugly.
He’s making it easy for everyone.
Next time someone chews ice chips, cut them some slack.
column written/ published from Fort Saskatchewan
morning walk: -22C/-7F, it got vewwwyyy cold overnight – much snow and much more blowing – lots of fresh drifts to excite Gusta but she nearly pulled me off my feet.
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