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“Nothing is going to change today, same shit, different day,” Dad told me this morning as I’m changing his messy diaper. It leaked so I got to change the sheets. The smartest thing I did when mom died, and I moved back in with Dad was get ten sets of bedsheets.
“Tommy, you don’t get it. I want out, not later, NOW. How much longer do I gotta gut this thing out?” he says to me.
“The problem is you ain’t going to go easy,” I say as I help him on the toilet and hand him his iPad. I got downstairs and made his toast and coffee. I put on the TV and help him back into his bed with clean sheets and say “I got to work until 3pm and then I will be back. Sheena is going to come over and make you lunch around 12pm,” I say.
The sun is coming up as I am cross into DC over the 14th street bridge. The Potomac River glimmers a golden yellow as Sheena calls me. I push to connect and she comes into the screen
“Hey baby,” she says
“Hey beautiful girl,” I say.
I turn on 19th and hit a wall of traffic. A cargo van has blocked the box and nobody is moving. The guy next to me leans on his horn, I shake my head and look at him and he holds his horn while he points at me and whispers “F….U…..”
I look back at the screen and I say, “Are you going to be able to drop by Dad’s and make him lunch?”
“Baby, something has come up and I can’t, I am sorry” she says.
“You’re letting me know now? You know I am booked out until three.”
“I know, I know, I am sorry.” She says, “I got to be honest, he is getting to be too much for me.”
I lean on my horn and flip off the guy next to me.
“OK, I will figure it out,” I say to her and disconnect the call.
I call the visiting aide who charges double for emergency visits and who my father can’t stand. I punch in Rex’s number, and he answers on the first ring.
“Lunch and a book,” I say
“$150.” He says, “That’s assuming he is wearing his head cage so he doesn’t bite me.
“You’re the best Rex, I know he wishes you were his son. I get back by three so change his diaper too,” I say.
“Fine,” I say.
Later, when I pull into my dad’s driveway I see Rex sitting on the front porch.
“He told me to get out and never come back” Rex says.
“He says that to everyone,” I say.
“I think this is the last time I can do this. All he talks about is how he doesn’t want to live anymore and that the world would be better without him in it.”
“My Dad wasn’t always like that, he used to laugh a lot, a big joker, but after my mom dying, and losing my brother, it’s been tough.”
“I know, says Rex, “and for some crazy reason, I appreciate his honesty and clarity of his situation.” As he walks to his car he says, “If you need me, you know you can call me.”
I nod to him as I push the front door open and call out, “Dad, I am home,” I say.
“What took you so long?”
For a moment I think of leaving and then say, “I love you too Dad.

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