My Father's Death

8/4/1983 two days before Written 8/10/1983

Moments ago, I saw him. Yes, he is definitely on the path to death. Strange, he seemed sangfroid. My sister, I , mom, and the kids were all there. A staff of incompetent attendants kept coming in and out, asking astoundingly unimportant questions. Do you need a validation for parking? What? I don't know lady, ask my sister!

My mother believes his evident sickness is a ploy. A ploy? I think. She recounts how Dad had been from hospital to hospital, whenever he got tired of home life. I can't believe mom is saying this, until I look in her face and see the fear and despair there. I think: She's just hoping for the best, mom's afraid Dad's gonna die. He refuses food, ostensibly because, as he says in broken English he haa no appetite. His appearance is that of starvation victim. Sunken eyes, withered limbs, distend abdomen. The doctor, this scum bag, to put it mildly, diagnoses malignancy of the colon. I know my father is going to die.

But, there is something beyond this. Is it his ceaseless presence of mind, and indefatigable continuous stare? Is he accusing me of this? Am I somehow responsible for this? Of course not, I turn my head toward mom quickly. She smiles and runs her hand over my head. I feel relieved. But, Dad shows an aura of confidence in his existence, as certain as his demise is, his obstinate nature, seems to give him courage, or better, defiance. Dad says to me in a hoarse voice that he wants a lamb meal when he gets home. I help him to the toilet, and black bile runs from his rear just as I sit him on the stool. His eyes flutter. He looks away from me. I realize that he is embarrassed by his loss of bowel retention. I say: Hey Dad, uh I'm gonna ring for the nurse, and wait out there. He whispers this time in Somali, that I should wait outside for him. He's looking down, not a tear in his eye, or frown on his face, though I know he's in excruciating pain. I also know what hurts him more than the physical pain is me see him in such helplessness, so I remove myself quickly. I leave him there to finish, and ring for the nurse, whom eventually returns him to bed. It's been changed. It smells like a hospital bed. There is the strong odor the laundry detergent they use to make the sheets cloud white as the nurse gently lays him down. She waves me off as she helped Dad from the bathroom. "I can handle this Mr. Wais, Don'tchu know thas' my job." Everybody laughs. I notice Mom has left the room. She must be waiting in the car. Overcome no doubt.

Dad will not make it through the night, I thought as we all exited. Mom cried in the car on the way home.

I am saying goodbye now Dad. I wish my daughter, Asha had seen you on this night. A month ago, he had held her, Grandfatherly pride showing on his smooth dark face. Her little fingers gripped his curly gray hair as he bent over, and kissed her.

And now, he is going to die. And she'll never know him as she grows up. Just as my nephew and niece would never know my sister as they are now maturing.

Only my brother, Raage is missing at this visitation. He has his own struggle to bear. He is in detoxication. In a few days he will be released. In two days, him and I will travel to this little ward again to see Dad stark dead.

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