Monday, September 14, 2009

Coming up the Caddie

Years ago my father told me that the most beautiful thing he had ever seen was a storm coming up the Caddie when he was a boy.

The Caddie, as I understand it, was a by-water of his hometown river. The river was dead, killed by lumbering and the paper mills, but the Caddie was apparently still safe because the community cowherd drank from it.

And that's why Dad was there at sunset, to get the cows home, or maybe just to claim the family cow.

And that's when he saw the storm coming up the Caddie.

Yesterday I visited Dad in the nursing home. He was unresponsive, slitting his eyes open when I bellowed in his ear, then closing them again. I noticed his breathing was irregular: ten strong breaths followed by about fifteen seconds of no discernible inhalations. Then his breaths went down to eight between the periods of immobility, where it stabilized. Finally I rose to go.

I thought about notifying a nurse, but decided not to. Dad is ninety-five, past his time--deaf, half-blind, wheelchair-bound, incontinent, unable to feed himself, unable to communicate, unable to remember. I doubt if he'll make it to ninety-six.

The storm is coming up the Caddie.

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