This is Part 2 of a series of articles I will post this month. Part 1 is here.
My first day back in Florida is mostly a blur. I flew to the Pensacola airport, where my brother met me. It was an hour’s drive to the town where my parents and siblings live. Our conversation on the drive, and later at the restaurant where we had lunch was probably the best preparation for seeing my father’s current condition one could have. My brother mentioned that my dad was concerned there was something wrong with his computer. He’d been so concerned about it one night that week that my mom finally called my brother at 2 or 3 in the morning to talk about it. Bro drove over to their house to see if he could find the problem, but there was nothing obvious. Being there and working on the computer was enough to calm my dad for the night, at least.
The change in my dad was stark. Physically, he didn’t seem all that different. He still had the taut, stringy musculature of a long distance runner. Though the line from tautness to gauntness had been crossed, it wasn’t obvious through his khakis and t-shirt. The thick, fine salt and pepper hair had gone pure white. The stark change was in his alertness, his finely honed sense of humor, his wit, and his facile use of language. When he talked, there were long pauses as he struggled to find the right words. Sometimes, his attention wandered before the words were found. Other times he was visibly upset, fighting against the brain fog, determined to communicate, to be there.