Don’t Go Changin’ by Joanie Fritz Zosike

Daddy, ca. 1920, Warsaw

Daddy at age 6, ca. 1920, Warsaw, Poland

“Daddy, Daddy,” says the 63-year-old woman not without emotion. Daddy. Hospitalized on Christmas morning, released today, December 28. Three days of utter confusion and discomfort for him. Three days of uncertainty for the family. Now released for palliative home care. We are entering another phase.

“Daddy, Daddy,” I whisper into his ear from 3100 miles away. Yes, I’m the 63-year-old woman. I saw it on my doctor’s chart today, here in New York. It is confirmed. Yesterday I was uncertain as to whether I was still 62 or 63 and not willing to do the math. I decided I was 62. Guess not. The chart confirms.

“Daddy…” the 63-year-old woman says wistfully, sending all the love she can on a jet stream of ether. Tapped into these keys, wistfulness. “I love you so much, Daddy.” Who you were, who you are, who you will become. So frail, so beautiful, so you. I can’t wait to see you again. Even though you can no longer hear. Even though we must chase you around with your walker, making sure that you use it so that you don’t fall and break a bone, god-forbid. I can’t wait to lie talk directly into your ear so you can hear me. “My darling Daddy,” as I was and will always be a Daddy’s girl. This 63-year-old woman. Aye-aye-aye.

The 63-year-old woman joins in on a conference call with the palliative care team at the hospital with her father in the hospital bed, her mother and brother; doctor and nurse from the team explain the home care options.

Tomorrow a nurse will come to the house to evaluate him. Soon after the doctor will come to evaluate him at home. Soon thereafter the 63-year-old woman will join her mother and brother in Los Angeles to evaluate how the logistics of this next phase will be handled.

So many things to think of that there is no time to feel it, which perhaps at this point, is best. “What are we looking at?” brother says, not emotionless, but measured, controlled. “Six to 12 months?”

“Hard to say,” answers the 63-year-old me. “12 months or less to live is the guideline of palliative care. Six months or less is hospice.”

“It’s 12:00 o’clock,” says “Tom,” my computer voice. Name of my dead ex-lover and spiritual brother. Ghosts in the machine.

And so it is, 12:00am, am Mitternacht. Tomorrow, which is today, is another day. Who can anticipate the changes coming over the next year? Or more the next year-plus, because sometimes a person in “palliative care” rebounds. May, “but given his frailty,” it is explained to us, “unlikely.” Yet who ever thought Daddy would live to be 98? He’s less than six months away from being 99. He said he wants to make it to 100. He said he wants to live to see brother and me have some kind of security in our lives, as does our other brother, the opera singer. However, at this moment, what he mainly wants is to sleep. He is at the moment transitioning. He may rally. I want to hear him play the violin once more. And I don’t give a damn if it’s not in tune.

He has changed so much over the past 2-1/2 years. I count the beginning of the changin’ from his attack of shingles in his eye, when he went through such an agonizing summer, weeping like a baby every waking moment. Mom was alone with him for a whole month before we came to “help out,” and often that “help” seemed intrusive. It was not an easy summer. Daddy never really came back from the shingles completely. It was the summer of his first “scoundrels and whore-mongers” rave, captured on video by the opera singing brother. Don’t ask. Daddy has changed much more since then, and we love and accept him through every change.

“Daddy, Daddy,” says the 63-year-old woman. “Don’t go changin’ just to please me. I love you just the way you are.” Her heart is encircling him from 3100 miles away. It’s ten past 9:00pm in the City of Angels. Tomorrow is another day. And another change.


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