When my father died last month, I was glad I had been in the habit of practicing my morning meditations for the past couple of years.
Because I surely did need it, on so many occasions.
One very minor instance was my motel, advertised with a pool.
That dirt pit, I’m assuming, was maybe once a pool.
But ya know, onward. No big deal in the scheme of things like my dad just died.
What did require every single ounce of my patience happened directly after my father died, in his room. It’s so fucking absurd, had it not happened to me, I would find it a story hard to believe.
But it did happen. I was there.
The morning that my father died, I had just arrived back at his hospice room with my sister-in-law. I always stopped at the front desk and got the over-night report, and I was informed that he was progressing towards his final breath.
Without getting too far into the weeds, I’ll sum it up by stating that by this particular morning, my father’s “lady” friend Penny – lady being used in the loosest sense of the word – she is no lady – she is no friend of mine. She was extremely irrational the entire time I was down there and had to deal with her, and the main reason I spent little time actually at my father’s bedside. She is a very miserable person and is more so with possibly some dementia happening in her head.
But anyway, that’s not the story.
The story happened about two minutes after my father died. I watched him take his last breath, called the nurse back into the room who had just left, and one of Penny’s friends waltzed into the room carrying McDonald’s breakfast for both of them.
That’s not the story.
My father had just been pronounced dead, and the nurse shut off the oxygen machine. The friend, Rod, asked, “How’s he doing?” and the Penny stated, “He just passed,” or something of that nature. So Rod reached over, put his hand upon my father’s shoulder, said something about playing cards up in heaven with a jovial attitude, and then turned back to the lady and they started carrying on a conversation about where he had dinner the prior night – followed up by a story about shenanigans at a tiki bar on the beach – all the while getting both of their coffee’s stirred and generally carrying on.
While I was standing there at my freshly dead father’s bedside.
The nurse came back and I grabbed her and said, “You have to do something about this, please do something about this,” and she told me she’d be right back, she was getting another nurse.
In that short span, Rod opened the McDonald’s bag and passed out McMuffins for Penny and himself, and began to unwrap them.
They were going to eat their breakfast right next to my father’s body, with me standing there looking at them.
I couldn’t wait for the nurse to come back, so I asked Rod, “Can you please eat your breakfast out in the family area.”
And he looked at me, completely offended, and said, “If I’m being FORCED to, I will.”
The backstory on that comment was from the previous day. The previous day, I had to have three nurses force Penny to leave my father’s hospice room so I could spend 30 minutes alone with him and say what I wanted to say. Penny had flat-out refused to willingly leave and it was a whole scene. But she did leave, because I made her.
So now Rod – who I’d never met until that morning – had the audacity to direct his fucking attitude my way, because I had the nerve to ask him to eat his breakfast somewhere other than over my father’s dead body.
When he responded with his snarky “forced to” comment, this is where my mediative grace came in, Reader.
Because without all the work I’ve done in my brain over the past few years, I may have not responded quite so kindly. My response was merely to look him in the eye, wave my hand over my father’s body and say, “My FATHER JUST died,” while never breaking eye contact.
I would like to report he sheepishly gathered his things, but he did not. He gathered, but it was not at all contrite, and he still had an attitude that I had dared to ask him to leave my father’s hospice room.
The nurses came in shortly after and kicked me and Penny out so they could do their thing with his body. There is apparently some preparing that needs to happen. And believe it or not, I don’t think eating an McMuffin over the body is part of the prep work. But maybe in Florida. Florida is crazy.
Reader. I had planned to write this absurd story with a humorous slant, but that did not come out of my fingers. I think I’m still mad about it and would like to punch that Rod right in his McMuffin-eating face. I do not have the good graces completely mastered, Reader. I still have the instinct to be an asshole when I’m pushed. It’s hard being the person you want to be sometimes.
So many things happened during that one-week trip. People can be extremely disappointing. I was and have been very disappointed by some of the behavior directed my way. I feel betrayed by so many things that happened.
Death often brings out the worst in the people. And in some cases, I guess it brings out the breakfast sandwiches.