The Long Gray Line Visited My Dad in Hospice

kayanddad
One of my favorite pictures with my Dad at Fort Belvoir prepping for a parade.

Today The Washington Post included a story from a son who watched as his mom started to talk to her dead relatives when she was in hospice care. It freaked him out, as one would expect. To me, it brought a smile as I recalled the final night of my dad’s life.

Let me explain …

My dad was moved into a hospice facility when we couldn’t arrange the right care for him in his retirement community. He was living with my mom who had vascular dementia and didn’t want any help in the apartment, but dad needed constant support to keep him comfortable.

I end up in the hospice facility with dad in what turned out to be the final night of his life. He was medicated for comfort, but would have periods of wakefulness. During this time, I watched as my dad was looking right to left and saluting. I had seen him do this many times before–he was saluting soldiers marching past his bed that I could not see.

What I recognize now, but apparently instinctively felt, was that my dad was very close to death. My siblings will recall my angry phone call which was very much out of character asking them why they weren’t bedside.  To be fair, my siblings had been with dad all day and helped move him into the hospice facility. None of us expected his stay to be so short.

I look back on that experience and agree with the author of the Post article. I believe my dad got comfort from seeing as West Point describes as The Long Gray Line of soldiers marching by as he was preparing to join them. Remembered.