Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Simple Pleasures



My father had been in a virtual coma for three days, the combination of morphine and pain forcing his lifeless body to convulse on occasion, a muted groan leaving his lips every so often. The last I'd seen him functional was in the presence of my siblings and a lawyer, his signature needed to square up one item before his demise so as to keep the probate hounds at bay. A man with nearly perfect, feminine script was reduced to illegible scribble as he whipped off his "x" and fell fast asleep.

And now I sat next to him for the third day, my attentions drifting between Hollywood Squares and his shallow breathing, constantly wondering if I'd actually made my peace with the man who'd given his life to the cause of his wife and children.

"Wow" he said, eyes opened for the first time in days and smirky grin stretching his chapped lips. I turned and rest my hand on his shoulder as if to keep him from sitting upright, a pointless maneuver as he was far too weak to move voluntarily.

"What?" I answered softly, powering off the television. "What happened?"

"I was just thinking of the time you and I and Christopher (nephew/grandson) were in Japan, in the Kyoto gardens....how pretty it was...how peaceful. It was so real, as if we were still there, wandering the pebbled pathways. I laughed when the gardener chased off a pair of cranes who'd been dunking for fish in the koi ponds." He chuckled a moment, then coughed, wincing back some sharp, derogatory report from an unidentified organ.

I smiled a curious smile and read the wonder in his eyes; the soft blue pools of insight that had watched me grow from hatchling to giant oaf. My palm slid from his shoulder to take his withered hand, his fingers barely able to grip mine in recognition.

"So that's where you've been" I said, doing everything in my power to not weep and ruin his one lucid moment.

He cocked his head a bit and raised an eyebrow, a favored affectation when he thought himself too clever. "We've never been to Japan have we?" he whispered, his words punctuated by a groan from deep within his cancerous body.

"Not yet" I said. I thought for a too long moment and added, "but it's on the list."

He smiled and lightly squeezed my hand. "You're a good kid" he said as he closed his eyes and returned to the red pine and boxwood flanked path, stopping at an ornate, red bridge to stand and watch plump, golden fishies; a final moment of pleasure before wandering off to meet his maker.

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