The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I was in a senior center parking lot with my stuff spread out all over looking for a pen. Finally, I was being contacted for an interview for a job. Two and half years of being miserable and finally I was getting response from the jobs I had been applying to. I was so excited as I hung up. My phone rang again as I had just finished rounding up my stuff and putting it into my car. It was my parents. They rarely call during the day. I answered and it was my dad, with is scary nurses voice, he told me that Elmer had been in the hospital since Tuesday and it wasn’t looking good. I said I would try to be home soon. I had been trying to convince my parents that it was a good idea for me to quit my job and spend time with Elmer for the summer. Even at 30 I had to get my parents (father really) to agree with this idea for the sake of family harmony. If he didn’t support this plan it was going to be a miserable summer. I had been sitting with this idea for a while. I felt that it was what I needed to do; it was what God was telling me to do. I had been having arguments with my parents about coming home. Mostly because my dad didn’t like me quitting my job. I felt that it was a toxic situation and the best thing I could do was leave it. That night dad called again, to say Elmer was worse. They didn’t know how long he had; they were putting him in hospice. I told him I would be come by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest, since it was a long weekend. My boss called Saturday, I told her I was resigning on Tuesday and it would be my last day. I felt liberated.
I arrived at the hospital around 9pm on Wednesday. Since he had been in the hospital for about a week, the family was tired. Nana went to sleep on a couch across the hall my parents and aunt who was staying with them went home to bed. I stayed with Elmer. He was being kept comfortable, but was not lucid. We watched late night TV like we did when I was little. We used to watch late night TV together because he didn’t see the point in putting me to bed till I was tired. My parents often worked late in those days, my father as a nurse and my mom with her two to three jobs. Elmer was semi-retired, thus he and I spent a lot of time together.
We sat in the hospice room. He was breathing heaving. I sat there with my hand on his arm. I told him I didn’t thing Jay Leno had anything on Johnny Carson. I told him about quitting my job and how good I felt about it. I told him I knew that if I had faith everything would workout. I would get a better job when I went back to Baltimore and that my life was going to be really great. I told him I was here for him. That I would was going to spend as much of the summer there. I would keep an eye on Nana and he didn’t need to worry about her. I told him we loved him. That when he was ready he could let go. We would miss him, but we didn’t want him to be in pain. His breathing slowed, the death rattle came. I went and woke Nana up. She cried and held his hand, I held hers. We prayed.