From what I've been told, my father was sitting in his hospital room and suddenly he starts complaining that he doesn't feel right. His stomach hurts. His head hurts. He looks over to my brother and says, "Quick. Get the nurse. There's a problem here. It feels like I am coming out of my skin!"
My brother tries not to panic as he runs out of the room to find the nurse.
"Please come quick!" he pleads to the first person he sees. They rush in to Dad's room and my father is in apparent distress. "Something's wrong!" he says. "I don't know what it is. I don't feel well. My stomach, my head, my chest is pounding!"
The nurse calmly looks at him and says, "If I remember correctly, I think we had this same problem last night. And let's see, what did we do about it?"
Then she smiles and says, "Oh yes, I remember. What if I got you a bowl of ice cream. Do you think that might help?" Dad stares at her for a moment and then nods, "Sure. Why don't we try that."
Ten minutes later, after my father has consumed a bowl of vanilla ice cream, he is telling jokes. So apparently, ice cream will make the situation better.
Silly me. I really should have known. We are SIMPLE people.
Most of the conversations I have had with my father over the past month have lasted for less than two minutes. He just doesn't have the ability to be on the phone and any discussion regarding what is happening within the family fatigues him, instantly.
So whenever I call Dad, I try to keep it very short and sweet.
Last Sunday, before my father was admitted to the hospital, I called him at home to tell him that I love him. And that all of this controversy that is going on around him is only because everyone else loves him, too. Even though everyone is trying to do what is right for him, he is getting crushed in the process.
Before I hung up with my father I asked him to do me a favor. I said, "Dad, listen. I know that you haven't been to church since you and Mom divorced. But here's the thing. I think your soul could use some healing. So please, could you go to church as soon as possible? Catholic. Unitarian. Buddhist Temple. Maybe even a Jewish Synagogue. Please, just go somewhere that you can be exposed to a dialogue that is happening with God."
He told me that he'd try.
But the very next day he was admitted to the hospital.
So today, I called the hospital and I left a message for the Chaplain. I have asked that they please stop by my father's room and sit with him for a while. I don't know what they will say. But my father is a kind man and I think that he'll be happy to see them.
Especially if they bring him some ice cream.
(Updated to add: I called my father this morning and told him that if a Priest shows up in his room, not to panic. The doctors didn't call for him ... I did.)