“I like to sit at the edge of my bed and think. It looks like I’m davening, but I am just thinking,” my father dictated as I sat beside him with my laptop earlier this week. “Sit back, Jerry, sit back, everyone says. You’re going to slide off.”
Davening, pronounced dah’-vening, is Hebrew for praying. I remember his mother, my Bubbi, nodding in frequent prayer. My father, however, is often just nodding off. And the other night – whether davening or dozing — he leaned on his recliner’s remote, which tipped him forward until he did slip off.
Dad is slipping – slipping away. And he knows it.
So I was glad when I visited the next day that he agreed to let me type up his thoughts. In recent years, my 85-year-old father has written up lots of stories about his growing up and his take on life, but his fingers and eyes aren’t cooperating like they used to. His mind, however, remains sharp.
“I’m still trying to figure out what I think or feel about waiting for my turn on the bus,” he said. “I don’t intend to sound morbid, but the whole process of waiting for my turn is a mystery. I can’t fully grasp it. And since I don’t fully grasp it, I say I don’t think about it. But that’s not true.
“The truth is,” he said, “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to give up, I don’t want to let go of that string.”
Those of us who love him don’t want him to let go either. Or to suffer. Not that any of us can choose.
Dad’s slide off the chair occurred only a few hours after my sister beat him at cribbage. The next morning, back in the recliner, he called my sister, twice. First, he let her know about his slip. Then he had something really important to tell her: Take out the cribbage board and shuffle the cards. He wants a rematch.