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False Spring

January 23, 2016

It’s been almost a year since my dad passed away.  I finally wrote about it.


I’d been waiting and hoping, back months ago when eating would have done some good. Waiting, hoping, wanting more than anything to see some fight. The fire I remembered, the temper, the stubborn persistence and foolish pride that kept my old man running headfirst into the same walls over and over again his whole damn life. It was the first time I’d ever seen him beat. Oh shit, that was the worst part of it all, worse than anything to come. Worse than the sight of him in that box, worse than how heavy that box was as we carried it up that hill. Seeing him beat was worse than seeing him dead.

I’m not proud of it but I was angry. “DON’T GIVE UP!” I wanted to just scream it over and over until it sunk in. “What the hell am I supposed to do without you?” Damn I was selfish, making the whole thing about me.

But the end was still yet to come, and for now there he was; down to palliative care- no treatment- no iv fluids- no blood- just pain meds and a visiting nurse. Just him and the leukemia getting a good chance to get to know each other. But like a proto-typical contrary Newman; when the doctors finally gave up, he finally got a whiff of hope. “I think I might be getting a little better.”

“Hey that’s great! You eat a little something?”

He always hated that question, all the pressure to eat, like it was his fault that the cancer stole his appetite and made him sick all the time. He hated that question but this time he was proud to answer. “Yup, yer momma made up some of that pudding, and I had a few bites of the mashed potatoes and gravy.”

“Wow, that’s a lot for you. You sound a little stronger.” I wasn’t just saying it, I believed it. I wanted so much to believe it.

“Yep, your sisters comin’ over later, gonna take me for a ride in my chariot.” His chariot was his wheelchair. It was the middle of the winter, but he had to try to get out every day so my sister rigged up a sleeping bag in the chair and put his oxygen on the back and took him for as long of a walk as he could handle. “I love the way that cold air feels on my face.” He swallowed and it sounded like he was choking on eggshells; dry and crackly. “Well, I gotta let you go boy. I’m getting a little winded. You want to talk to your momma?” He didn’t wait for an answer, he handed her the phone.

“Hey Pollywog, how are you today?”

“Fair to middling, sounds like the old man’s doing pretty good though.”

Her tone didn’t agree, “yeah.” I could hear her moving in the background, like she usually did on the phone, moving where he couldn’t hear her. “I heard what he was saying on the phone, Paul. Don’t get your hopes up, the hospice nurse warned us about this.”

Well, it was too damned late, my hopes were already up and now my stomach was down on the top of my shoes.

“what do you mean?”

“The nurse told your sister and I, this happens a lot. The pain meds and everything, they can make someone feel stronger for a little while. They often think they’re getting better. She called it a false spring.”

“Aww shit.” She could tell I had bought it, and I could tell she was hurting too. We all wanted to believe it was real but none of us were going to tell the old man that it wasn’t.

“Well, I’m damned glad to hear him sound a little better, even if it’s temporary. I love you momma.” She said she loved me too and that was the end of the call. A week or so later, it was the end of our false spring. It was a clear day in February when we put him in the ground, warmer than it should have been, drier than it should have been, and a lying sun laughing at us up in the sky.

It was another false spring. They never last.

One Comment leave one →
  1. hollie permalink
    August 15, 2016 8:12 pm

    Holy shit, such an accurate description

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