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Hank:The Story Of Hank
“Hello Belle, this is your father. I’m very sick; they’re not sure what it is yet. But it’s not good.” These were first words Belle has heard from he father in seven years.
“How long do you have?” was the first thing that came to her mind.
Hank remembers the day he found out he was sick like it was yesterday. As he walked into the hospital, the smell of the cleaning products and cotton sheets made him feel so out of place. As he walked up to the front desk to check-in, he hears giggles from the little kids playing on the floor with a slinky; he’s very used to that by now so he just shrugged it off and continues on his way to the desk.
“Hi, I’m Hank Ingerman, I am here for my check-up,” he said calmly.
“Oh, yes, can I have you take a seat and fill out this form?”
Hank leans in so close to the front desk attendant that their noses almost touch.
“What was that?” he said in a raised voice.
“Please have a seat and fill out this form,” the nurse says in a louder but still shy voice as she takes a step back.
Hank walked back to the waiting area where the laughing kids had been, by this time the kids had already been called to there appointment. Hank took a seat in a red vinyl chair that creaked as he sat down. The sheet had so many questions he didn’t know the answers to.
As he put the pen to the paper he heard his name called in a quiet squeaky voice. As he stood up, the chair creaked again. Trying to make a joke he said, “You should really stop feeding your chairs beans.” The nurse just chuckled once and said, “This way.”
He remembered them checking his weight and height, getting his blood pressure taken, and checking his eyes. He first felt like some thing was wrong when the doctor got his results back from one of the tests he had taken and read it with a puzzled look on his face. Thirty minutes later he found out he was sick. They gave him a year or two to live, told him that they would see him back here in two weeks, and sent him off. The doctor didn’t leave any room between his own sentences to let Hank ask what his sickness was called or if they even knew what it was.
His ride back to his home at the Motor-Way motel was the longest car ride of his life, longer than the drive when he left his wife and kids. He knew that he had to make things right with his kids, his ex-wife, and his whole family. This made him think about all of the things he had missed in his children’s life; he didn’t even know if he had grandchildren. Once he got home he dug through his boxes to find his old black address book; the pages were so ripped up that he could barely make out the persons numbers and names. He turned the page to B where his daughter’s name Belle was written down, first page, so neat and so clean. The number read: 678-999-8282. He dialed the number, and waited for a ring but he just heard the dial tone, and a recorded voice of a woman telling him that the number he was trying to reach had been disconnected. He felt defeated, the way he felt when he found out he was surely going to die soon. With this feeling, he hung up the phone slowly, laid down on the polyester sheets and stared up at the white ceiling; his eyes began to water, he shut his eyes and fell asleep.
In the morning the loud beep of his clock radio. His eyes were crusty from his tears. He turned off his alarm, rolls out of bed put his white collared shirt on and then heads for the door.
Just as he reaches for the door knob he looks back at the old ripped up address book sitting on his bedside table. His mind races with questions. Should he try again? Should he drive back to where he thought Belle lived? Again, too many questions he didn’t know the answers to. He walked slowly to his phone, picked it up and dials his ex-wife’s phone number. After a couple of rings he heard the familiar cheery voice of his daughter.
“Hello?” Belle said.
“Hi, Belle. This is your father. I’m very sick; they’re not sure what it is yet. But it’s not good.”
It takes her at least five seconds to reply. When she does she says, “How long do you have?”
“Not sure,” Hank is amazed that his daughter has even given him this much time, wasted that many words or him.
“So did they give you any more information?”
“Nope all they told me was that they would see me in two weeks.”
The conversation is ended an hour later after Belle and Hank make plans to get together.
The next two years are filled with Hank meeting his grandchildren, the first time Hank meets his grandson his first thing he thought was how tall he was, just like Hank, and his granddaughter was so beautiful and looked so much like he mother. Hank and his grandchildren create a fantastic relationship, the kind of relationship where when kids look forward to seeing him and hearing his ridiculous stories he told over and over again. He couldn’t believe that he had been missing all of this because of his own selfish thoughts.
Twenty five months after Hank started his new life full of love and happiness, things took a turn for the worst. He began to have constant migraines and nausea. Before he went to see Belle and her kids one last time, he decided to go back to Colorado, to die peacefully.
He didn’t tell any of his family about Colorado. He drives Twenty-six straight hours after he leaves Belle’s house. As he got into Colorado, day breaks. He pulled over on the side of the road, walked up a green soft grassy hill, lies down and crossed his hands behind his head. Peacefully, Hank shut his eyes and died, with his heart settled and at one with himself.