I posted a quote the other day on facebook by Bob Hope. He said something about what laughter can do, even in a situation where there is pain. As I've thought about it the last few days I remember what happened when dad was in the hospital just before he died.
It was about a week before he died. His liver was starting to fail and that was causing him some confusion. It seemed like every movie we put on to watch caused him to send me out looking for someone to fix "the problem" it brought up. We watched Junior and he thought he was pregnant. We watched Silver Streak and he thought he was on a train all alone. We watched Speed and he didn't know why he was driving this bus. So, we finally landed on Singin' in the Rain and that one movie didn't bother him at all. So, for the last week of his life all we watched was Singin' in the Rain, over and over and over again. Even The Price is Right bothered him because he couldn't get the prices right.
Anyway, one evening JoAnn decided that she was going to spend the night at the hospital with the two of us, just to keep me company and to be there for dad. It was after ten that night and Dad was aggitated and needed a shot for pain. We called the nurse in and this sweet young nurse came in speaking with a very thick hispanic accent. She was just the nicest young girl and was so soft spoken. We were all talking as she came in to see what he needed. JoAnn told her that he needed a shot for the pain and that it was time for them to check his blood sugar. The nurse got the stuff to check his blood sugar and came back in right away at which point dad started asking her the strangest questions.
First he wanted to know if the book was ready. We had no idea what he was talking about. Then he informed her that she was supposed to have printed the book out already and that the students needed it.
She went about her business hoping he would just get passed it. Then he proceeded to ask her how he was supposed to know how much of the book was supposed to be paper and how much was supposed to be urine. HOw would he know how many projects to have the students do on paper and how many to do on urine. This went on and on for several minutes and I could not help myself, it started to be more than I could handle in the room. So, I left the room and left JoAnn in there with the nurse while he kept on asking about this book of urine and paper that he'd written.
I knew that if I had laughed in front of him he would have been ticked off because as far as he was concerned he was 100% serious! So, I stood in the doorway out of sight and just busted up laughing.
I know, it didn't help JoAnn hold it together to watch me out there laughing uncontrollably. After about five more minutes she left the room too and joined me on the floor in the hallway. We had left that poor sweet girl in there with him insisting that she answer his insane questions. She kept saying "I don't know Mr. Parrish." "I just don't know" She was stuck in there for about ten minutes by herself and then she managed to get away to go get his shot. Then she had to go back in....it took her a few minutes to gain back her composure after being in the hall with us laughing, but she did manage and got caught in there for about twenty minutes the second time.
It's one of those things that you just can't understand unless you had been there. JoAnn and I will always have that crazy, crazy together. All the weeks of sickness and treatments and pain and dying that went on in that room since we had been there faded away in those moments into uncontrollable laughter and I like to think that dad would have enjoyed giving us that moment. Very cathartic!
It was just a few days later that everyone was there at the hospital and things were looking pretty grave. Dad was having trouble breathing and with everyone there he felt like he was probably dying. After a couple of hours he just looked at us and said, "Guys I'm sorry, I'm trying my best to die." The next day they put him in a drug induced coma because he was so aggitated by things. Then they moved him to the hospice floor.
The nurses on that floor were great. They would come in and talk to me for a while every shift. One of the nurses got to talking to me and I started to tell her about the time that Cheri watched Dark Night of the Scarecrow when she was in high school and how dad and I stuffed some clothes and propped them up just inside her room while she was gone to church. Scared her to death! SO FUNNY!!! I told the nurse that it was dad's idea to do it and he started sort of "growling" in his sleep. We thought that was pretty funny that even though he was in a coma he wanted to put his two cents in to who was actualy responsible for that scarecrow.
Anyway, he died the next morning just before dawn. That's all. I was just thinking about how we laughed that night when he had the nurse trapped in his room and then the night he protested my telling of our story even though he was in a coma. It's kind of amazing how we can laugh when our hearts are full of tears and when the world seems to be falling down around us. In fact, those are some of the best laughs I've ever had!