Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ At the top of the stairs, I heard him moan, then found him lying on his side on the carpet of his bedroom, his glasses bent, a few feet away. "
I had returned from a weekend trip and I called my dad to unanswered rings. I was living only two towns away and went by on most Sunday afternoons to make dinner for him, and to go through his mail and pay bills. It had been fifteen years since my mother had passed, yet, even at 89, he didn’t need much from me. On that one afternoon a week, as he had experienced since he married my mom in 1949, I provided the smell of cooking food, rattling pots, and conversation. Lately he hadn’t felt well, hands and feet swollen with retained water, short of breath when he tried to go up or down stairs. I had made an appointment for him to see his doctor two weeks before, but when I drove by to take him, he refused to go. The morning of the unanswered call, I came through the side entrance of the house, unlocking the door with the same badly hidden key I had used most of my childhood, and called his name. I looked around the downstairs, the wallpaper my mother had rolled onto the living room walls peeling, pictures he had removed from an old photo album tucked sideways into the molding of half-paneled walls. At the top of the stairs, I heard him moan, then found him lying on his side on the carpet of his bedroom, his glasses bent, a few feet away. He looked up at me with glassy, wet eyes, and said “Scott..” then closed them for the last time.