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Shaving Like Crazy
By Darcy Lee Malone

(Page 2 of 4)

There are pictures of our family all over the room, but the one that catches my eye is the one of Dad and Jeanie, a portrait from a cruise they took a few years ago. They both look so stiff and so formal and, somehow, so happy. Jeanie is wearing a brightly printed gown full of pinks and purples and blues and she is wearing her “picture smile.” Dad is wearing a white tuxedo with a blue bow tie that matches the blue in Jeanie’s gown. His head is tilted to the left, toward Jeanie, and he has a look on his face I had never seen before – I like to think of it as the “I love this” look. He really does. He loves cruises and he loves gambling and he loves eating and he loves Jeanie. It is all there in that picture.

“Hey, Hon. It’s time for Wheel of Fortune.” Jeanie comes into the room, leans over Dad, grabs the clicker, changes the channel and then puts the clicker back. She knows, as we all do, the clicker stays with my dad. Period.

I can tell she’s been crying. And probably searching the Internet for some last-minute-miraculous-cure for late-stage small-cell lung cancer. She sits down in the chair next to my Dad. “Darcy?” Jeanie looks at me expectantly, knowing that I will know exactly what she wants me to do. I have been doing it ever since I got here over two weeks ago.

I get up, sighing more for the effect than because I am annoyed. I want to help and I know Jeanie is feeling needy. I know she is truly in pain: in her back, in her hips, in her heart. So I lean over and take her sneakers off one at a time, then her socks. I prefer putting her socks and sneakers on, which I will have to do in the morning. I worry about who is going to do this for her later. After Dad is gone and I have gone back to my life, to my husband and my children.

I sit back down on the sofa, put my feet back on the coffee table and get ready to play Wheel of Fortune with everyone in the room. We are a competitive family, my dad most of all, and as we start calling out letters his voice is noticeably missing. He is staring at the television, but I don’t think he is really seeing it. Or maybe he doesn’t remember how to play.  I don’t know which it is and I don’t want to know.  I stop watching the TV. I don’t want to play anymore.

The silence is making me sad. As I look around the room, my attention focuses on the “other” sofa. It’s the one thing that is different, the one thing that doesn’t belong here. It is blue and green and red plaid and it clashes with the soft, pastel floral of the sofa I am sitting on, the one that does belong here. But the plaid sofa had to be moved. It was in the spare room up against the wall where the hospital bed will be going and the hospital bed is coming in the morning.

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