There’s really nothing worse than disappointing the people you love. I spent a lovely May day with my niece and nephew. After a day of backyard swimming, a basement showing of “Muppets Take Manhattan” and pizza and games at Chuck E. Cheese, we stopped at Target. At last minute my dear niece decided she didn’t want the toy she picked out and wanted something else. But we were already in the checkout lane, little brother needed to go potty and it was dangerously close to bedtime.
So we left without a toy. Enter niece’s sadface. It broke my heart to look into those pleading blue eyes. But we went out to the car anyway. I lifted my sad niece out of the cart – even though she’s far too big to be held – squeezed her tight and told her the last thing I ever want to do is to disappoint her, and I hope she could remember what a fun day we had together.
Today I saw the same sadness written across my Papa’s face. He’s been in a care facility for months and was desperate to get back home. I’m not sure if it was his wishful thinking or a miscommunication, but he thought he was going home today. I thought he was going home today. I arrived at the care facility to find his clothes and few belongings out of the drawers and closet. He was eating breakfast and announced that after breakfast, he was free to go. He asked if I could drop him at his house on the way to the airport. I tried calling his friend who has the keys to the house. No answer. I had to leave for the airport in an hour and couldn’t drop Papa at his locked house in a wheelchair in 106-degree heat.
Then there was a knock at the door. It was Vanessa, his occupational therapist. “Ready for therapy, Mr. Sheppard?” he asked. Papa responded that he was going home. Vanessa looked confused. She said she’d check with his nurse. I went out in the hall with her. She told me the care plan said he would be leaving Thursday or next Monday. That sounded better to me. Papa doesn’t look strong enough to live on his own yet. I talked with Vanessa and the nurse for a bit before Papa peeked his head out. I walked over to him and broke the news. He was upset. He raised his voice. The nurse told him to play nice with Vanessa and do his rehab work. He told me to go to the airport and he’d see me later.
I knelt down and gave him a big hug and told him I was sorry. Just like I did with my niece. He gave a smile and said he was glad I came. Still, my heart broke for him as I watched him follow Vanessa down the hall.