Saturday, February 23, 2013

Getting the toboggan

Toboggan return to toboggan tow at base of hill.
Caberfae Winter Sports Area. 1940-1941.

I sat quietly by his bed as the mid-morning sun shone through the window. The angle of the light transformed the contours of his fresh white sheets into bright flowing hills and deep shaded valleys that mimicked the snowy fields outside.

He was in his late 80’s, and had been slowly declining over the past years. Now, his breathing had settled into the peaceful but irregular pattern of approaching death.

Something had happened since her visit yesterday, when they both sipped coffee and enjoyed his favorite cookies. She informed the eldest son by phone, and he agreed to call his siblings, who lived out of state. “They’ll start arriving in the next few hours. I’ll get the comfort kit set up.”

She reviewed the medication schedule with the private caregiver, 5mg of morphine oral concentrate every four hours, and drew up a small amount of thick pink liquid into each of several syringes. She squirted the first dose gently behind his lower lip, and massaged his gums while reviewing the technique with the caregiver.

That task complete, we sat by the bed without speaking for about ten minutes, until it was time for us to go.

“He loved the snow,” she said when I noted how the distant fields matched the near scene of his bed sheets. “Last week, when I told him about the coming blizzard, he said ‘Let’s get the toboggan ready.’ He just loved the snow.”

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