Three ghosts meet a fool in a bar

What was a hospital visit has become a vigil here in Nyack. So much has happened this week in Rockland County. So little of it was good.

We’re all bracing for what’s next. Here’s my story:


Dad is dying in Nyack Hospital and I needed a drink. The hotel bar was closed. I made a deal w/ God (no DWIs tonight) and grabbed my car keys.

I opened Maps Google to find the right, nearby bar. O’Donoghue’s found me first.


Talking Dead

In the last years of his life, my dad and I had a tradition.

Most nights, on a long commute home, I'd call him. The routine was nearly always the same. The phone would ring: four, five, six times. He wouldn't answer.

Then the machine would kick in and I'd hear my sister's voice on the machine. The one who claims to live in Manhattan and come home to take care of Pop. In reality, she was living and smoking and eating and crying in her old bedroom every night. She wasn't going anywhere.


Taking a long way home

Seems a year ago I went to NY to see Pop, watch him die, praise him and bury him. It's been all of 2 weeks.

After a couple of days at work, we kept our promise w/Disney. Too-long drives, in-laws, everyone else's children, so much junk food, nice hotel , good pool, bus rides, undoable ride lines and a really good Muppets movie.

Now we drive back in an hour. Gone from the surreal to the horrid to the unreal of family life in Disney.

The plan worked: the exhaustion and distraction of Disney and 10-hour sleeps has made me ... rested and still dazed.


You can't slide these dying eyes

Dad was dying, but I knew what to do. I had to close his eyes.

Many years ago, I was with my mom when she died. Long battle with cancer, withered body. Finally, she simply stopped breathing. I called dad. He was out in the hospital hallway. He ran in, leaned over and closed her eyelids.

Why hadn't I thought of that! Damn it! It was obvious, an ultimate sign of respect. Close their eyes. Send them on their way.


Who's that knocking on my door?

Death's door is painted red and hangs in my hometown of New City. It's the front door to my dad's house and it seems to dare him to pass through it. So many people seem to be banging on the door from the Other Side, calling him. My mom, Eleanor and now Janet. Pop ignores them and continues watching Turner Classic Movies in black and white.

Pop's health wanes and his will is iron — Fireman Strong. Dad is in the ER again and I bet he rebounds through this episode of exhaustion, too.