My father has sang random little diddies as long as I can remember. He would use any excuse to break into song. I grew up listening to him sing about a little brown mouse lapping beer up off the bar room floor and about a little white sports coat with a pink carnation. As a small girl I thought he made up most of these songs, but have since found most of those songs on oldies stations or on youtube.
One song in particular that I was just dead sure he made up he always sang as, “Let the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” We would laugh and tease him all the time about his made up songs.
A couple of years ago my dad’s health took a turn for the worse. He had a kidney disease when I was in highschool that put alot of strain on his kidneys. He had an issue a little after that in which he got a pacemaker.
His kidneys started shutting down and he had been in level four kidney failure, which happens to be close to the end if something doesn’t change and soon. At the hospital, his kidney doctor convinced him to start dialysis. he got a port and they started as soon as possible.
The next step in his health includes him getting a staff infection that settled in his knee replacment and caused him to spend both Christmas and New Year’s out of his head in the hospital. They eventually find that the infection is in his knee and are forced to remove the replacement. He spent the next year in and out of the hospital and in and out of his head.
During one stay at the hospital he asked the night shift nurses to tie him to the bed because he had such crazy dreams. They weren’t allowed to do that and he hopped up during the night and because his knee replacement had been removed so that the infection could be drawn out he put wait on a leg he wasn’t supposed to. Dad crumbled into a screaming heap of pain on the floor. He had broken his hip and required a sugery to repair it.
During each of his stays in the hospital or nursing home for recovery many of the nurses would tell us how sweet dad is. They would also ask us about the songs that dad sings. The one that was asked about the most was the bird of paradise.
My sister, who is a nurse, had a nurse friend named Kelly who helped us out alot in that couple years. She would come and help care for dad both in and out of the hospital. When dad devleoped C-Diff, she would even help change him and clean him up. While he was not allowed to put weight on his leg dad faced at least 6 boughts with C-Diff. During this time Kelly became an important and permanent part of the family.
One day while dad was in the hospital he called me. His voice danced with excitement when he said, “She found it! Kelly found my bird of paradise song on youtube!” Then he began to ramble off on some topic that made zero sense to me.
I knew walking into his room that day that it was impossible to tell what to expect. He might be clear headed and be able to have a good complete conversation or he might be talking out of his head so much that I would go home and cry.
“Abby!” He called out to me as soon as i walked all the way into his room. My name and my niece’s name have always been interchangable to my father. He has mixed up my name with pretty much anyone but most consistently with my niece so I was actually happy to hear the wrong name coming from him today. It was a good sign.
“I have been singing the bird of paradise song wrong all these years. It’s actually may the bird of paradise fly up your nose not let.” He was smiling so big that i couldn’t help but smile back.
“Well how about I look it up and we can listen to it?” I pulled out my kindlefire and pulled up that song. As the words filled the room and my dad sang along I realized that all those songs didn’t really matter. The words didn’t matter. The emotions that I saw on his face were far more important than being right could ever be.
And if I ever doubt my dad’s creativity there are always his Flopsy, Mopsy, and Tinkerbell stories. Those I will save for another day.