How I want to remember my dad (opinion)


"I am David," I say.

"Were you thinking of someone else?" I ask him.

David Gelles

I told my dad it was time to take a shower and start the day. He couldn't lift his body off the couch.

"Let 'me help you."


A few minutes pass as he struggles to lift his body.

"I can help you."


A few more minutes pass.

"I'll help you up and then you can shower."


A few more minutes pass. He's still struggling to get up off the couch.

"Okay," he says as he looks at me. He is defeated.

I put my arms under his, bend my knees, and let him lean on me for balance as he straightens his legs and can stand up.

Showering. But when he gets out of the shower, he slips and falls into his room. He is sitting on the floor in his bathrobe, helpless. I help him to his feet.

That was just one morning in my life 60 days ago. It is part of a series of scenes now trapped in my head for the past 100 days.

The time he lost his balance, he fell and cut his head off when we were out walking together.

The last time he climbed the stairs alone, and the first night he had to sleep on a hospital bed in the living room.

The night the health assistant woke me up at three in the morning because I was coughing up blood.

The last time he could stand on his own legs.

The first time I had to give him morphine.

The only ritual that kept me sane during Covid-19
I became my father's primary caregiver, with a terminal brain cancer disease, when my mother suddenly died of a brain aneurysm in March. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I learned what it means to care for a dying parent in isolation, while still crying for another parent.

It wasn't exactly "Tuesdays with Morrie". My dad didn't sit around telling me stories with beautiful life lessons. The brain tumor had already damaged his short-term memory and emotional responses. I often wondered where my mother was, and had to remind her that she was dead.

He spent most days looking at his watch. I don't know if it's because I couldn't remember what time of day it was. Did you know it was 9 a.m.? Did it matter It reminded me at least that time was running out.

He couldn't have a conversation. I could ask him questions and he could answer.

"What year is?"

"2020" he said to me.

"Who is the president?"

"Ronald Reagan," he said.

I said I loved him. I rubbed his back. I kissed his forehead.

Most of the time I had to show my love by being there.

I tried to cook her favorite foods, or sometimes just order them. On more than one occasion I let him eat cupcakes for breakfast and ice cream for dinner.

It's been over 100 days now.

More than 100 days without visitors, just the two of us.

Grief for my mother at the age of Covid-19

Now he's in bed and can't do anything. It has been like this for more than a week.

He is not eating or drinking.

The last meal he ate was some chocolate jelly pudding. At least it was chocolate. I loved chocolate.

It looks so close to death.

Her legs are wrinkled. There is no more muscle. His arms are just loose skin on a bone.

This is not how I want to remember my dad.

I want to remember him as the father who put on his Walkman and mowed the lawn while shouting songs from Chuck Berry.

I want to remember him as the father who took me to my first R-rated movie when I was five years old.

I want to remember him taking me on a business trip with him, staying up late, watching "Hill Street Blues" and ordering strawberry cheesecake from room service.

I want to remember that he picked me up from the night camp because I was nostalgic on the third day.

I want to remember him as sarcastic and smart.

I want to remember that you told my mother that you did not need to ask for directions.

I want to remember him eating Oreos up his sleeve.

I want to remember that he got mad when the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

I want to remember you spending endless hours on eBay trying to rebuild your entire collection of children's baseball cards.

I want to remember that he took my children to Chuck E. Cheese while on vacation in the Bahamas, only to go home and discover that both children had the flu because my father definitely did not force them to wash their hands before eating Pizza.

Two days before my dad took his last breath, my wife and children came to visit us to say goodbye.

My seven year old son knelt in the chair next to my father's bed and just looked.

Later that night, my son woke up and was unable to go back to sleep.

I took him downstairs and we turned on the television and saw Jimmy Kimmel. My son had never seen a late night comedy show before.

It is exactly what my father would have done in that situation.


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