I Will Love You Forever Pt. 2 Ch. 04bykalamazoo707©
I would like to take a moment to thank all of you who have been following the lives of Patricia, Kenji and the rest of their family. I thank you for continuing follow them on their journey. I would also like to thank you all for your encouragement and kind comments and emails; they are all very much appreciated. Thank you to Donalde for reading not just this story but also all of my others and pointing out the "holes" and to Iread2relax for her support. Once again, thanks to all of you, all of you are awesome!
Kenji drove Abby home while Joel followed them in the other car. Abby was in a fog, she had known that there was something wrong with Ralph but hadn't pushed. Tears ran down her face as she thought about him lying in the hospital bed so helpless. She also knew that when she kissed him goodnight and spoke to him that he was awake and chose not to respond.
"Abby, you could not have known." Kenji said softly.
"I knew that something was wrong, I felt it." Abby replied tearfully, "I should have made him go to the doctor or called one to the house."
"It wouldn't have made a difference." Kenji replied gently.
He was right and Abby knew it but she still believed that there was something that she could have done.
"Would you like for me to stay with you?" Kenji asked already knowing the answer.
"No, you go home to Patricia and the children, I'll be fine." she replied.
"You should not be here alone, Nick and my mother would be happy to come over." Kenji offered.
"I'll think about it." Abby replied.
The fact of the matter was she wanted to be alone. When she kissed Ralph and told him that she loved him, she didn't know exactly how she meant it and she had to deal with the possibility that he could very well die. She had to wonder if it was possible to change one's sexual preference and it was what it meant for her and Ralph if he survived.
She wiped the tears away; there would be time to sort out her feelings for Ralph later, once they got him back home. She looked at Kenji and knew that if she didn't call Nick, he would.
"I'll call Nick." she said softly.
"Good because I was going to." Kenji replied as he pulled into the driveway. He got out of the car, helped Abby out and held his hand out for the house keys.
"You don't...." and then she stopped herself, this was Kenji and he wouldn't leave until he knew that she was safely inside.
She handed him the keys and followed him in. She sat her purse on the table, headed for the phone, and called Nick. When she was ended the call, she turned to Kenji, "they're coming, why don't you go home? Patricia has got to be getting worried."
"I'll wait." Kenji replied and headed to the telephone.
Abby heard him talking to Patricia in the soft tones that he used whenever she was upset, she was taking the news hard.
"May I come in?" Joel asked.
"Of Course you may!" Abby exclaimed ashamed of herself that she had forgotten about him.
Joel stood by the door unsure of what to say. Ralph wasn't dead yet so he couldn't give condolences, he didn't know her well enough to give her a hug or to give assurances so he said nothing as he listened to Kenji talk to Patricia.
"Would you like a cup of tea?" Abby asked. "Kenji is staying until Nick and Hana get here."
Here was something that he could do, "Please allow me to make the tea, just tell me where things are." Joel said.
"Thank you but I need to be busy, but why don't you help?" Abby asked.
Kenji came back into the kitchen, "Patricia is upset but she is fine with me waiting with you until Nick and my mother get here."
"I can stay." Joel said, "That way you can go home and be with Patricia and the children."
"Good idea." Abby said. "He can sleep on the couch or in the extra room if Nick and Hana don't use it."
A few minutes later, Kenji was gone leaving Abby alone with Joel.
On the way back to the house, Kenji stopped at Hattie and John's house to give them the news.
"How's Patricia?" John asked.
"She is upset but otherwise fine, you can come back with me if you wish." Kenji replied.
"Give us a minute." Hattie said before John could speak.
"Well have a seat." John said, "It'll take her a few minutes to get herself around.
John looked at the man that at one time he hated simply because of his race. He found it hard to believe that he had changed his mind about him, this man he now considered a son. That he loved and protected his baby girl and their children went a long way toward changing his mind about him. He couldn't have picked a better man for his baby himself.
He was about to tell Kenji that when Hattie called down, "John pack up the eggs and whatever else we might need for breakfast and lunch!"
"Allow me to help you." Kenji said as he stood up.
"Kenji, I know we had a bad start and all but I want to let you know that I think you a good man and I'm glad that you and my baby are together."
Kenji didn't know what to say. While he knew that Patricia's father had accepted him and their marriage, he never expected to hear him say it.
"Thank you." Kenji said with a bow. "I am pleased and honored to be considered a member of your family."
"You're welcome but we'd better get those things packed up before Hattie gets down those stairs."
The children were in bed by the time Kenji made it back with Patricia's parents and she was cried out or so she thought. As soon as she saw Kenji walk through the door, she ran to him, wrapped her arms around him and cried. She thought that she was ready to let Ralph go if that is what he wanted. Now she wasn't so sure.
"How was he?" she asked even though Kenji had already told her on the phone.
"He is doing as well as can be expected." Kenji replied, "And Abby is doing the same."
"He's going to die isn't he?"
"I don't know how to answer that." Kenji replied, "Part of his survival is in his hands and if he does survive the chances are good that he will not be able to walk or talk. He will need total care."
"He won't want to live like that." Patricia murmured, "He would rather die first."
Kenji didn't reply, what Patricia said was true.
She stepped out of Kenji's embrace to hug her parents.
"You can have our room and we'll go downstairs." she told Hattie as she hugged her and then her father.
The thought about which of her parents would die first crossed her mind as she hugged her father and she shoved it away. She didn't want to think about how much that would hurt. Losing Ralph was painful enough.
Later when the food was put away, John and Hattie were in their room, Kenji, and Patricia sat on the sofa. Kenji had his arms around Patricia holding her tight against him, this wasn't the first time that he had lost a loved one. Several had died when the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and those deaths included friends. This was a first for her; he knew that Ralph was going to die. Patricia was right; he wouldn't want to live as an invalid. He kissed her forehead and closed his eyes to rest. Eventually they fell into an exhausted sleep.
Ralph laid awake his mind sifting through memories, some good and some bad. The bad ones he pushed away the good ones he lingered on. Among those that he lingered on was the first time that he met Kenji. That one day changed his life in ways that he had never imagined and then there was Patty and then the babies. He had become a part of the most unorthodox family that he could think of and he loved each one of them with the exception of Kenji's father. He would never forget what had almost happened to Patricia because of him, that he didn't know Patricia then didn't matter. However, He knew her now and she had become like a daughter to him and she had been threatened.
He wondered if he could make himself forgive Hiroshi Takeda, it would make Patricia happy if he did but if he died, how would she know? His mind wandered to Abby, she was one hell of a woman and he meant it when he said that he loved her and not as a friend.
"Your timing is off." he chastised himself. He wondered why he had never told her how he felt about her and now here he was too helpless to take care of his own basic needs. The smell of urine his nostrils before it registered that it was his urine that he smelled. With his good eye, he watched the wetness spread through the thin blanket and then felt it as it hit his right leg.
Tears of shame ran down his face as he felt the urine soak his gown. He wanted to die; he couldn't and wouldn't live like this. He couldn't live with having to have someone feed him or having to clean his dirty ass when he shit or clean him up when he pissed. It didn't matter that all of them were and would be willing to care for him, he simply couldn't let them live like that.
"Hello Mr. Goodman." The male aide said greeting him. "I see that you've made a mess, we'll get you cleaned up right away."
As the aide cleaned him and changed the linens and his gown, Ralph wondered how he could make himself die.
Sally took the news hard. She and Ralph had their moments but she had come to love and respect the old man. The children had come to love him as well and it fell to her to tell them that he could possibly die. The next question was did she call the prison to tell Lawrence. She was almost certain that he wouldn't care but still he deserved to know.
She told the children first and was surprised that they took it as well as they did. The next thing she did was to call the prison. She hoped that they would just take a message; she had no desire to hear Lawrence's voice again.
"This is Sally Goodman." she said when someone answered the phone, "Could you get a message to Lawrence Goodman?"
A few minutes later, Lawrence's voice filled her ear.
"Hello Darlin' couldn't wait until I called you again?" he asked clearly amused.
"Your father had a stroke." she blurted out wanting the phone call to end.
There was a moment of silence before Lawrence replied.
"Well isn't that just too bad." he said without a trace of sorrow or worry in his voice.
"He could die! Don't you care?" Sally asked.
"I could lie to you and say that I did but I won't do that." Lawrence said.
"This is your father!" Sally exclaimed.
"Is that supposed to mean something?" Lawrence asked, "And he stopped being my father when he chose the Japs and the niggers over his own flesh and blood."
Sally couldn't believe the callousness that she heard in Lawrence's voice. She had been married to the man that voice belonged to; she had loved him enough to follow him even though she didn't hold to all of his beliefs, and she had borne him three children....
"He's partly responsible for what happened to Kenny." Lawrence was saying.
"No he wasn't." Sally said interrupting him. "We were. You and I are what killed Kenny! It was my fault because I could see what was happening and did nothing to stop it! I knew what Doc was teaching him but I looked the other way. You killed him too, you and your precious Klan! Your father tried to help him and Kenny was going to kill him! Do you understand that we and no one else are responsible for what happened to Kenny?"
She was screaming into the phone not realizing that Lawrence had hung up.
Lawrence hung up as soon as Sally began to accuse him and the Klan of being responsible for Kenny's death. He conveniently forgot that Sally also took part of the blame. He hadn't lied when he said that it was too bad that the old man was dying, it was... he had wanted to be the one to kill him. It would have been the one time that he wouldn't have minded getting his hands dirty.
For just a brief moment, he felt sadness that things had turned out the way they had but the moment was gone before it took root. Mentally, he crossed his father off his list of people to visit. Even if the old man lived, Lawrence no longer considered him worthy of his time and effort.
Sally placed the phone back in its cradle and sat down. She had to decide what she was going to do. At some point, she was going to have to start thinking about the future. Home was out of the question and she had no doubts that if Lawrence wanted to find her, he would no matter where she went. The only option that she had left was to stay where she was and to trust that Nick and the others would keep their word and try to protect her and the children.
Abby was at the hospital early with a bouquet of freshly cut flowers. She found Ralph propped up in bed being fed by a male attendant.
"Open wide Mr. Goodman." the attendant crooned as if he were talking to a two year old as opposed to an adult.
"Just who do you think you're talking to?" Abby snapped. "He's not two he's a grown man! If you talked to me like that I wouldn't eat either!" she added as she approached the bed, set the flowers on the table and physically pushed the attendant out of the way.
"I can and I will! This man happens to be my husband and I'll take care of feeding him now go baby talk someone else!" she snapped.
"I wouldn't argue with her if I were you." A voice said from the doorway.
"Paul!" Abby exclaimed.
"Good morning Abby, I thought I'd stop in and check on Ralph."
The attendant waited for another moment before disappearing while cursing under his breath. He hated this job with a passion but it was a job, he had hungry mouths to feed.
Abby sat on the bed next to Ralph and offered him a spoonful of what looked like thin oatmeal. Ralph clamped his mouth shut and refused to eat it.
"Come on you old coot! Stop being so damned stubborn!" Abby said as she tried to feed him.
"No! Damn it!" Ralph screamed in his mind willing Abby to understand that he wasn't going to eat now or later.
Paul watched and knew what was happening; Ralph didn't want to live and would refuse food to starve himself to death.
"Abby, let it go for now." he said gently.
"But he hasn't eaten anything!"
"I know, you can try later." Paul replied not missing the grateful look in Ralph's right eye.
"Alright, you win this time." Abby said to Ralph, "but you will eat lunch." she added.
Ralph didn't respond one way or another as he closed his eyes.
"And don't think that you're fooling me with that possum act either!" she snapped making Ralph's one good eye snap open.
"Abby, could I have a moment with him?" Paul asked.
When Abby was gone, Paul sat in the chair next to the bed and looked at Ralph. The left facial droop didn't seem to be as pronounced which was a good thing. He took Ralph's left hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"Squeeze." he commanded.
Ralph looked at him and looked away; he didn't even want to try.
"Come on Ralph, try!" Paul said.
"N...no." Ralph whispered.
******* Hattie agreed to watch the children so that Kenji and Patricia could go see Ralph.
"Give him our love and tell him that we're thinking bout him." Hattie said as they headed out of the door. When they were in the car, Patricia asked the question that had kept her awake.
"Kenji, Ralph doesn't want to live does he?"
"I would have to say at this point that he does not want to live but that could change. It is as I said last night, it is up to him."
Patricia didn't reply for several minutes before she spoke, "I don't want him to die, if need be, I'll quit school to help take care of him."
"Kirei that is the last thing that he would want you to do so don't even think about it." Kenji said gently.
"I know." Patricia conceded, "It's just that he's done so much for us and this isn't fair! Why couldn't it have been Lawrence?" she asked suddenly angry. "He spreads hatred while Ralph.... "
"Ralph is not dead yet." Kenji reminded her, "and if he chooses to live, we will work out a way to care for him but giving up school is not an option."
They found Ralph still in bed with Abby at his side trying to get him to eat.
"Good morning!" Patricia said with a smile while her heart was breaking on the inside.
"Thank god you're here!" Abby exclaimed, "The old fool won't eat!"
"Let me try." Patricia said as she approached the cot and kidded Ralph on the cheek when she reached him. She looked at the food and crinkled her nose. "No wonder you don't want to eat." she said as she swirled a spoon through what looked like watery mashed potatoes. "How about we ask the doctor if it's alright if we bring food from home?" Patricia asked.
"No." Ralph said softly.
"No? What do you mean no?" Patricia asked
"No...ood. Die!" Ralph said softly his right eye begging her to understand.
Abby looked as if she had been slapped, she had never taken into account that Ralph would want to die. Patricia put the tray aside and took Ralph's hands in hers.
"We love you, you know that don't you?" she asked.
"U...uv oo t... too." Ralph said slowly as tears ran down his face.
"Then don't leave us! Stay with us to so that you can watch Kenji graduate and then me." she begged
"Kirei," Kenji said from behind her and put his hands on her shoulders.
Ralph pulled his good hand from Patricia's and raised it to gently cup her cheek, it was his way of telling her that he had made up his mind. Of the three of them present, only Kenji saw the resolve in Ralph's eyes. For just a moment, his eyes met Ralph's and he nodded. Ralph nodded back relieved that someone understood.
Patricia finally saw it too although she fought it. Before they left, she hugged Ralph as tightly as she could, "I love you papa Ralph." she whispered in his ear. She was rewarded with a tight one-armed hug. She fought not to argue with him and to beg him to reconsider. She wasn't ready to let him go.
The day was spent with all of them taking turns visiting him. Paul got permission for the children to see Ralph for just a few minutes providing that none of them were ill. That finalized it for all of them. Ralph wasn't coming home.
Niko sat with Ralph first and said nothing. After several minutes, he stretched out next to Ralph and laid his head on Ralph's shoulder staying there until Kenji took him away. Marie was next. She sat on the bed and did her favorite thing, playing with Ralph's fingers. She would touch a finger but another would pop up or jerk making her squeal and then jump.
All of them watched the scene with tears in their eyes and wondered if Marie understood on some level what was happening. No one doubted that Niko did, he had the intuition of both of his parents and he remembered the morning when he found his parents saddened. This felt much like that.
"I'm sorry but you all have to go now." A nurse said.
"Please, just a few more minutes?" Abby asked.
The nurse nodded and walked away before they saw the tears in her eyes. That she might get into trouble for extending the visiting hours didn't bother her. In her opinion, family should be allowed to stay with a dying family member as long as they wanted and Mr. Goodman was dying.
They all took turns saying good night starting with Kenji and Patricia, then Hattie and John who were both openly crying. It occurred to John that he had never cried over a white man before but then, he had stopped thinking of Ralph as a white man a long time ago. Nick and Hana were next with Nick understanding as Kenji did that Ralph wanted to die. He wouldn't want Hana to have to care for him if he were in Ralph's shoes. He would want her to find someone else to make her happy. Joel was next, his hands shook as he lightly touched the old man who sometimes intimidated him but was a hell of a chess player. "Good bye sir." Joel said and walked away. Sally and the children were crying softly while William stood back. He had only met Ralph a handful of times and felt like an intruder, he only came to support Sally, the children and his friends.