“Number three,” bellows out the bingo caller.
Dad’s hand reaches across the bingo board, shaking slightly. I help him hold onto his card so his right hand can slide the plastic window closed.
“Way to go,” I say.
He smiles but his eyes don’t leave his cards.
“Hey! Only one more number and you’ll win,” I point out to him.
“Number 70,” yells the caller.
“Bingo,” says Dad.
“Another one!” says his friend.
I congratulate him. It’s his lucky day. And my father’s favorite activity at his nursing home.
He’s only recently had to move here, since Parkinson’s Disease has robbed him of his ability to swallow food properly. Repeated aspiration pneumonias have required permanent tube feeding.
Can YOU imagine never, ever tasting another piece of your favorite meal again? When you’re thirsty, not being able to take a cool drink? Not even a sip?
Dad chooses his bingo prize. “We’re running out of prizes,” says the bingo caller. He mentions that potato chips was a prize.
“He couldn’t have that anyway,” I say.
“What do you mean?” asks Dad’s friend, Phyllis. “He chose that prize first. He ate some and loves them!”
I look at Dad. He stares at his hands in his lap.
At least he didn’t choke to death. But will pneumonia follow in a few days? I’m stunned he ate them. Did he forget?
He looks up. But he doesn’t meet my eyes.
“I must have forgotten,” he says.
I stare at him which forces him to look at me.
His eyes water.
“It’s okay, Dad. “It would have looked good to me too.”
I rub his shoulder. And hope.
Later, I have a talk with the staff.
I know if it were me, and food were my choice, I’d have licked my fingers clean. How good those salty, crisp chips must have tasted after the past three months of not eating anything at all?
I’m glad he cheated. After all, if he hadn’t cheated, the other option would have been worse. It would have meant he had forgotten. To forget something that important is something I don’t want to think about.
In December, my father chose this tube. If placed in this same situation, I’m not so sure I would have made the same choice. But who knows? I’ve discovered the decisions we make at 50, change at age 90.
Writing Exercise: 1. When has temptation lured you into a choice, decision, or action? 2. Write a short story about a character who is tempted by an object or another character and this propels the plot forward.