The Coward’s Hour

Three o’clock in the morning.  That’s when it hits.  All my ideals about Will and duty and perspective wither.  They’re nothing more than whistling in the dark.

I want to be a good daughter, a brave woman, a decent human being.  But thinking about going back to the nursing home to see my dad—with bed sores now, and a bladder infection, and the petulant confusion that the inmates there always develop—makes my stomach ache.  I’ve worked in nursing homes, this very same one, in fact.  They are the stuff of nightmares, at least my nightmares.  The indignity and suffering seep under the skin like the smell—faint, almost covered, but still there.

This is the time, when most of the world sleeps, when traffic on my street thins and only the train whistles break the silence.  There’s too much space for my fear.  It stretches like taffy, folds back on itself with revulsion, then sorrow, then determination, then resignation.  The urge to run and keep running pushes against that other force.  What is it?  Also faint and almost covered, it’s nearly unrecognizable, and not nearly strong enough.  My love for my dad.

Three o’clock in the morning.  That’s when I know.  I’m such a coward.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sheryl Mae
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:06:17

    I don’t think you’re a coward. It’s just too hard. I cried all through church this morning and got lots of support from everyone around. It’s just hard. I have always hated going to nursing homes to visit and haven’t had to do it much, but for some reason I can go and see Dad without angst – the hope that it helps in some small way makes it easier to bear. Take care of you.


    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 02, 2011 @ 14:49:32

      It does help, but it also adds to seeing myself as the “bad daughter.” And that is *completely* my creation, nothing you do or have ever done. It’s a distortion, and being depressed now makes all those uglies pop out. I’m so glad you found support at church. They seem like great folks there.


  2. Fiddle gal
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:24:02

    You have just given words to my own thoughts of going to see my Grandmother, or anyone else for that matter, in the nursing home. I don’t see it as a coward, helpless feelings maybe, uncomfortable feelings, not knowing how to change this misery. I really like how you express these raw feelings that I have always tried to cover up. Coward no, normal, caring, uncomfortable, yes.


    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 02, 2011 @ 14:46:32

      I knew there must be other ways to look at it, but I couldn’t find my way to those perspectives. I’m so grateful for you and others who comment here for making those other views seeable.


  3. Kitty
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 11:40:14

    Yep, damn it, we’re all cowards sometimes. We just have to remember… Life is not about not falling down… Life is about getting back up… as best we can, when we can. Do you still love your Dad even when you’re not there in the nursing home? Maybe it will help to focus on the love, not the location.



  4. ManicMuses
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 09:38:18

    Sigh. This is exactly how I feel every time I step into my father-in-law’s room at his nursing home. I know it doesn’t make it any less painful to deal with, but you are not alone. I hope you get some good sleep tonight.


  5. pegoleg
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 16:06:44

    Three o’clock in the morning is the time when anyone who is up, sick, unable to sleep, feels alone and overwhelmed. It’s the witching hour of despair.

    You are not a coward. You are brave to try to swim through tapioca pudding to get to your dad, and don’t forget it.


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