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  • My brother and I went to Biloxi. My dad had been checked into a nursing home there - after having fallen seriously ill while on vacation and after two weeks in intensive care. I was devastated when I first saw him. The nursing home was sad, scary. I was convinced that my dad had come there to die. I believe this.

    He began to improve under our care. We spent long days there at the nursing home. We brought him food. I sat on the edge of the hospital bed, feeding my father like I would a little child. He only ate small amounts, he was too sick for food. He had bandages on his arms where the rampant systemic infection had blistered out from his septic body - many months of chemotherapy had rendered his immune system useless, nonexistent. My only purpose, my only thought, was to bring him back home.

    Every day we did battle. We cared for him. I combed his hair. I washed his face. When dad made the smallest improvement, I allowed a little hope to lodge itself in my heart. We began to talk about how to get him back to his home in Florida. He would need to enter a rehab facility there.

    "No! No, no, no!" my old man said. It would cost $800.00 dollars to get him home by ambulance. Although all of his children would have contributed to pay for a medical flight - he wouldn't hear of it. Too proud and too cheap. I had talked to his insurance company and an ambulance would be partially covered. He'd sent his wife home weeks before - he didn't want her to watch him die - although it was perfectly acceptable that my brother and I witness the end. Now that he had turned the smallest of corners, we wanted to get him out of that place. Every day when we left for our hotel, a small, ancient woman who took up position by the door would look deep into my eyes and beg me. Please take me home, she would say.

    I tried to explain to my dad that the ambulance would be paid for by his insurance. He cut me off.

    "I said no, God damn it! When do I get to make a decision about my life?" He was sick. He was angry. He was scared.

    I started to cry. Noiseless tears slid across my lips. I was sick. I was angry. I was scared. I wanted to say - Listen old man. You have been calling the shots -that's how we ended up in this horrible situation. I couldn't speak. I looked out the window at flowers blooming just beyond our reach - brilliant pink and purple flowers - and I cried.

    "I'm sorry honey," my dad said. Just then, the wound nurse came to change the dressing on his arm. The dressing often stuck to the wounds. Changing them was a painful process.

    "Kelly, come hold my hand," my dad said. I dried my eyes with the back of my hand. I went over to my father. He had the bluest eyes, the color of the sky. I took his hand and he squeezed tight. I didn't let go.

    A week later, we made it back home
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