Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Clock Is Ticking

Justin had but one wish.

He dreamed that his newborn child could sink comfortably into his beloved Grandpa Joe's arms.  Months before the delivery, however, Joe suffered a debilitating stroke and his once mild dementia became catastrophic.  He now wasted away in a nursing home.  Unable to speak, feed himself, or dress, there was no sign of higher brain functioning.

Justin visited the home every weekend.  He brought his growing son along hoping to spark a twinkle of life in his dying forebears eyes.  The boy became a fixture in the home.  The orderlies cooed and peek a booed as they found random reasons to engage him.

Justin was distraught.  He missed the companionship of his grandfather dearly.  The joy of parenthood, stained with the blemish of his suffering loved one, had lost its tarnish.  If Joe could only speak to him.  If only his baritone laugh could ring out like it once had when a young Justin took his sweet time.

The clock is ticking!


Early one morning as the baby played on a small area rug, a new doctor entered the room and approached Justin.  He stood quietly and appraised the situation.  His gray lab coat was wrinkled with the collar hiding his obscure complexion and darting eyes. 

Quite a quandary.

He spoke without introducing himself.  Justin strained to see his lips moving behind the fabric of the upturned collar.  He  nodded his head slowly, unsure what to make of this dark figure who abruptly entered his space.  The doctor lowered his voice and spoke in a raspy whisper as he stared at the door.

What if it could all be different?

He took his right hand out of his pocket and produced a large oval pill. Justin grabbed the offering and examined it.  It shimmered in the light of the adjacent desk lamp.  It was plain, devoid of writing.  The doctor instructed that if given to Grandpa Joe, he would wake up from the fog of dementia and become himself again.  But the effect would be fleeting.  The mysterious figure was already half way out the door before delivering the final pronouncement.

Three hours after taking the pill, he will fall back into his current state.  Then he will die!

By the time he looked up, the doctor was gone. 

Justin rolled the pill between his fingers and peered down at his son playing happily on the rug.  Without hesitation, he slipped the pill into Joe's mouth and gently placed the water cup hoping the primitive swallow reflex remained.

And then he waited.


Moments later Grandpa Joe was alive!  He hugged Justin and jumped out of bed to embrace his great grandson.  As the child bounced in and out of his lap, he talked incessantly as if a long dead battery had been replaced somewhere deep in his bosom.

It will not serve the story to tell of all the things that were said in those three hours.  The plans that were made.  The promises that were kept.  The unspoken words that suddenly found an outlet in reality.

But exactly three hours later, Joe got back into the bed seconds before his heart stopped.


Standing at the lectern reading the eulogy, Justin took a moment to survey the crowd of friends and family.  Like with Grandpa Joe, he realized his time with each and every one of them was limited.  As he finished his speech, he vowed to slow down and become better at being with those he loves.  It was his grandfathers parting lesson.

Joe's voice echoed in Justin's ear while stepping down from the podium.  His baritone laugh and mocking voice breaking the silence of the somber room.

The clock is ticking!


possible society said...

Beautiful! Is that pill covered by Part D?

Anonymous said...

if you think it's bad now, just wait until it's a government drone at the other end of the line. We're in for the same level of caring and professionalism in our health care authorizations that you currently experience from staff at the U.S. Post Office, the I.R.S., the Department of Motor Vehicles, and so on. It is not for nothing that many consider the most frightening sentence on earth to be, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."