Remembrances of Thomas Patrick Norton II (1920-2011) as he awaits death in a hospice at age 91.
I had two scares over the past two year where I thought my dad had passed away. When someone is approaching 90 it is always on your mind that he is mortal. He was still living alone at his condo in Lake Hiawatha. I had arranged for a home health care aid to come three days a week to help wash him and she would stay for several hours. I would come on the days she was not there just to keep him company and clean up and make sure he was eating his food and drinking enough liquids. Before I had made myself keys, I would ring the doorbell and he would open the door. This time no answer, I rang and rang and rang. I thought my dad had passed away. I called the condo association to see if they had a key and they told me to call a locksmith. A woman came into the building and she let me in the outer door and I knocked again on the inner door and tried to force the lock open with a coat hanger. My dad then opened the door and asked "what is the commotion about." I explained that I had been ringing the doorbell for 30 minutes and then I hit the buzzer again. But now being inside I could hear the buzzer going off upstairs. He said "next time use my button, it is the middle one."
The second scare was when I had my own keys and I let myself in. There was my dad on the floor on his back seemingly lifeless. I ran over and gasped out "dad", and he opened his eyes and said "Richard. I have been waiting for you, help me up."I asked what happened and he explained "My glasses fell on the floor and when I got on my knees to pick them up, I didn't have the strength to lift myself back up again, so I slept on the floor until you came. I tried crawling over to the couch but I don't have the upper body strength I had just a few months ago." I thought of having him move in with me, but the bedrooms are upstairs, and the last time he was over for dinner he could not make it up the stairs without a struggle. I then went on a search for an assisted living facility.