The Universe, of course, refused to let things go without a fight.
The plan was a simple one: get up, have a leisurely morning with my father, pack up his remaining things, go down to see my mother, meet my sister and brother-in-law for lunch, and then go to his new living quarters in the early afternoon and let him settle.
At 0700 (sleeping in), I got up. His right hand was swollen, almost to twice the size of this left. He could not use it at all and was in obvious pain. Off to the Emergency Room we went.
Due to The Plague, of course, you cannot go in. I wait. And wait. For two and a half hours. Finally, I go in and get directed to the phone and spoke with a very nice ER doctor. He thinks it may be gout - has my father had it? (I think so, yes). He will prescribe some steroids to help with the swelling and is glad my father has an appointment on Tuesday.
I call me sister and give her the update. She notes a new medication means a new set of instructions (the place he is going in is very explicit in the information they need). Back in I go to make another call. Thankfully, this is something they have heard before and can accommodate.
I wait another 40 minutes. Finally my father is allowed to come out, his right arm wrapped in a stiff bandage and in a sling. The bandage has to stay on until his visit Tuesday. He also has a brace for his left hand as well.
I call my sister again. I am worried - and she is - that this will be too much for them to manage for the living level he is going into - it is not a big deal to bring him back home, we just need clarity. She calls them again and then calls me. It is not a problem.
We have lunch at a Panera. He has a cinnamon bagel and coffee - not the best of lunches, but it seems to make him happy. I have a really good grilled cheese and turkey chili. The day is sunny but with a wind that bites a bit when the clouds come over. It strikes me that this will be our last meal together for a while, but I refrain from mentioning it. He seems in a good mood at the moment.
It is now 1300, the time we had anticipated getting him to his new home.
I pick up his medicine and we drive back home. Packing the last few things (I thought to make a list), my father looks for a jacket with button sleeves that will accommodate his wrap and brace. We are probably not there more than 20 minutes - I am trying to keep things moving to keep him from dwelling too much on what is going on.
We pull out as it is snowing a bit though the sun shines through. The cows watch us as we drive off - then as we drive back as I realized I had forgotten his room key. This, I regret - I was trying to keep things moving forward, not coming back to dwell on them.
We get going again and get down to see my mother. She is doing well. She is still a little confused why she has to stay there, but she does not mention being ready to leave. She had ice cream, she says, and shows me another book that she has found to read. It is one that she has read before; I remind her that she liked it last time.
Then, back into the car. During this whole time, there and now back, we have said very little. I have commented on traffic, he makes a couple of suggestions for how to avoid snarls ahead. Whether by choice or design, we both agree to say nothing about what is happening. He does comment he worries about my mother, but she seems to look well. I agree with him - she does. That is about all I think I can manage for each of us without some kind of breakdown occurring.
Pulling into the new location, I happen to notice a rainbow - a large one - just ahead of us. I point it out to my father. I will take it as a benediction.
My sister and brother-in-law are there when we arrive. It is now 1630, almost four hours after we intended to have all of this done.
The moving in process is much quicker: the fast unpacking of a handful of items, turning on the television and the heat and showing him how they work, helping him organize dinner and breakfast.
And before you know it, it is time to leave.
He is sitting in his chair, one arm in a bandage and one in the wrist warp. He still has his mask pulled down but on from when he came in. "Let me take that off, Dad" I tell him. "You will not be needing that now" - and he will not, after tonight, at least not inside the facility. I give him a hug, tell him I will see him tomorrow, and off I go.
I say goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law and we separate, mostly by mutual unspoken consent; we are both, I suspect, more than exhausted. I run by the grocery store and pick up a few things to last me into the week - with my father gone, it will quiet meals here most of the time.
The house is quietly empty when I arrive home - like when my mother left, still full of stuff and their things, as if they were simply on a trip and would be returning soon. I disconsolately poke around for one or two things I forgot - his cell phone charger, and his pajama bottoms. I enter the expenses in the log book - why, I do not know. There is no need for any of that to be tracked that way anymore. Force of habit, I guess.
I struggle to make the evening fire - I do not have my father's skill with flame (but I will need to learn it) and after 35 minutes, multiple crumpled paper balls, and at least three sets of kindling, I finally get a fire going. I overcompensate a little I suppose, and drive the temperature up to 78 F.
My father, I think, would be pleased were he here.