I gave Skylar our order and asked how her father was faring. “He’s doing better, Michael. Thank you for asking,” she said.
“Oh, yeah? Terrific,” I exclaimed. “Is he going in for surgery soon?”
“Maybe in another few days. The surgeon says possibly on Monday he’ll be ready for the operation.”
“I’ve been keeping him in my thoughts, Skylar, and you too.”
“Thanks, you are sweet.” She rubbed my back and gently gave my shoulder a squeeze. “I’ll be back soon.” She patted my head and left to weigh out our order.
“What happened to her father, Michel?” Chantal said.
“He had a massive heart attack yesterday. He needs triple-bypass surgery but was too weak to have the operation.”
“My father died like that,” she replied. “He was gone instantly.”
“I’m sorry for your loss, Chantal; but I think it’s best for everyone that way,” I said. “It is better for the person to die quickly and unexpectedly, rather than having to wait for a long, drawn-out ordeal to unfold,” I added. “After a lengthy illness, when a loved one dies, you are terribly distraught, yet so relieved they are finally out of their misery. The grief can now be left behind you once and for all.”
“Is that how your father died?”
“Yes, it was very sad to watch him waste away.” I described how my dad with all of his faculties, turned suddenly into a virtual skeleton, being fed by a tube inserted into his stomach, breathing through a hole poked through his neck which took away his ability to swallow or speak; and maintaining his lucidity but not being able to express himself, nor get in and out of the bed without a caretaker’s assistance for being too feeble. Moreover, he was tenacious enough to be hoisted into a battery-powered wheelchair to get around the nursing home throughout all of this. “His ultimate demise from Parkinson’s disease had to have been an extremely dreadful way to go,” I concluded.
“Will you two stop it?” Angelique demanded. “I feel like I am sitting at a wake in a funeral parlor. Please, lighten up.” She was right. Death wasn’t a fun thing to talk about.
The preceding is an excerpt from Thirty Dirty Days Across the Big Pond: Amsterdam High Jinks.”