"Don't worry, doctor, I'll call and make the arrangements."
Dad started to complain when an orderly brought in a wheelchair to take him downstairs but calmed down when he explained it was hospital policy for all patients to be wheeled out when being discharged. The orderly waited with Dad while I went to get the truck. Dad had a little trouble getting up into the truck but refused my help so I just stood there holding the door while he struggled. By the time I went back around the truck and got behind the wheel Dad was rifling through the glove compartment. He pulled out a pack of Winston's and pushed in the cigarette lighter.
"You've got to be kidding, Dad. Didn't you listen to the doctor at all? You have to quit smoking."
"I know smoking's no good for me, son. Every cigarette I've had for fifty-five years has been bad for me. But it's too late to do any good by quitting now. My heart and lungs just aren't getting the job done any more and quitting isn't going to change that or extend my life one extra day. Maybe if I'd quit ten or twenty years ago it would have made a difference but all it would do now is make me even crankier than I am and I don't think either one of us wants that.
I knew he had a point but I refused to give in to him. He lit the cigarette, took a deep drag and began to cough.
"How about we compromise? No smoking in the house. If you want a cigarette you can go out on the porch. That way you'll cut down a little and we'll both be able to breathe better."
"You're telling me I can't smoke in my own house?"
"Yeah, I am. As long as I'm living there with you it's my house, too, and I won't put up with it planetsuzy
He was quiet a moment.
"You've got no right to make demands but just to show I'm not unreasonable I'll go along with it."
There was no further conversation on the forty-five minute trip home. I stopped at the drug store where Mom had had her prescriptions filled and dropped off the ones Dr. Patel had given us. It was going to take a while to fill them so that meant a trip back later.
At the house Dad still refused my help. He did use the cane for balance going up the walk, but complained that I was hovering.
"If I fall you're not gonna be able to catch me anyway, so just stay out of my way."
"You'd get less winded if you didn't do so much yapping, especially when you're walking."
Dad had to use the railing to pull himself up the two steps onto the porch but he made it. He did sit as soon as he got there though.
"This really stinks, Silas. I've been slowing down the last couple of years, getting winded if I tried to do much, but even two weeks ago I was going to the barn a few times a day, milking the cows, feeding the chickens. No heavy work but light chores. It wasn't a problem. Now it's like I got ten years older overnight."
"The doctor said your heart wasn't in good shape to begin with. That's why you were getting out of breath and feeling tired. But the heart attack did a lot of damage on top of that. You're just going to have to take things slowly. Do you want me to get you something to drink?"
"You don't have to wait on me. If I want something I'll get it myself." He got up and went into the house.
The rest of the day his mood was unpredictable but I finally figured him out, although I didn't understand it. If I tried to help he rebelled and got nasty. If I got mad at him and told him off he accepted it and pretty much did as he was told. His reactions were just the opposite of what I'd expect. I decided it was best to avoid him as much as possible by concentrating on chores, checking up on him occasionally.
The appointment I'd made with the nursing service was for ten the next morning so when a Jeep Wrangler pulled into the driveway a few minutes before that I assumed it was the nurse. Dad was in his bedroom so I rapped on the door and told him that the nurse had arrived. There was a knock on the front door just before I got to it. I was surprised to be greeted by the deep blue eyes and beaming smile of Declan Kelly, dressed in a form-fitting dark blue polo shirt and khakis.
"Declan! What brings you out here?"
"I'm here to see your father," he said, handing me a business card that read Declan Kelly, RN planetsuzy
"You're a nurse! So that's your day job."
"Yup, and whenever I see the name of someone I know on our new patient list I turn on the charm to get the assignment."
Just looking at me with those beautiful eyes was all the charm I could handle. Any more and my knees would go weak.
"You gonna make the man stand on the porch all day? Ask him in." Dad had shuffled up behind me.
"Oh, yeah, c'mon in," I stammered. I stepped aside and he walked in carrying a small case.
"I've got a lot of paperwork to complete so it'd be best if we sat at a table."
Dad led the way into the dining room.
"You're walking pretty good, Mr. Willson. How do you feel?"
"Like shit, Declan. How'd you expect me to feel?"
"After what you've been through, like shit." Declan laughed. I just stared at him, mesmerized, unable to say anything. "Well, let's get to work."
He filled out an interminable questionnaire, asking Dad all kinds of questions about his medical history as well as that of his parents. I listened, not minding how long it took as long as I could enjoy the view of Declan across the table. After about half an hour he checked Dad's pulse, blood pressure and blood oxygen level then had him walk around the house until he was huffing and puffing and checked them again.
"How'd I do, Declan?"
"Not bad. Pulse up and oxygen down, both to be expected. Blood pressure steady so that means the medication is working. The doctor's ordered oxygen that will be delivered later today or tomorrow. It's only for you to use when you're feeling exhausted or having trouble breathing."
He explained he'd be coming back three times a week until he was sure Dad's medication was doing what it was supposed to. We set up a schedule starting the next morning and that was it. I got up and escorted him to the front door.
"See you tomorrow, Silas."
I managed to get a grunt of agreement out and then stood there and watched as he walked toward his car. His pants weren't tight but they hugged that beautiful round butt.
"Get your mind out of your pants," Dad grumbled as he walked past me to the living room. "You're not his type."
"Wh-what do you mean?" I was trying to play innocent about his first remark but wanted to know what he meant by the second. I followed him into the living room.
"You were practically drooling all through the interview. I'm sure Declan must have noticed but he's too polite to say anything. And while I don't really know what his type is, I am sure he likes girls. He was quite the ladies man until he got engaged a few years back."
"So he's married, then?" I felt like I had a large rock in my stomach.
"No, she broke it off planetsuzy
. She must have been crazy to drop a good man like him."
"How do you know so much about him?" A feeling of relief washed over me. I knew it was silly- he was straight - but I liked the idea that he was still available.
"I've spent a lot of time drinking in the Blarney Stone and when it comes to gossip, old men in a bar are just as bad as old women over the back fence."