My Favorite Time That Sonny Died

When Sonny finally died, it was so unmelodramatic. He just sort of slipped out the back, Jack. Before that, he had died so many times and then miraculously came back, that I lost track.

My favorite was when he was in Palliative Care. I got a call saying hurry on over; he's in a coma; he might be gone soon. When I got there, Sonny was wide awake, and walking around, and getting a cognitive exam (the kind Trump bragged about).

"Sonny," the doctor said, "Do you know where you are?"

"Iowa City!"

"Do you know where in Iowa City?"

"The hospital." Sonny looked at him, like, duh!

"Do you know where you are in the hospital?"

Sonny looked out the window, and exclaimed, "I must be pretty high!"

"OK," said the doc, "do you know what day this is?"


"Let me butt in here a minute," I said to the doctor. "You should know that it's normal for Sonny to not know what day it is."

"That's right!" Sonny said brightly, "he's telling it like it is!!"

"OK," said the doc, "Sonny do you know who the president is?"

Sonny perked up even more, and pointed in the air. "Obama!!"

"Good," said the doc. "Now let's switch gears a little. How much is 100 minus 3?"

Sonny stared blankly. This was one of those times when I had to translate. "Sonny," I said, "Suppose you had one hundred dollars."


"Now suppose you gave me three dollars. How much would you have left?"

"Uh, ninety-seven."

"Good," said the doc, catching on fast, "Now if you gave him three more dollars, how much would you have left?"

"Well, let me tell ya, Doc, ya know, it's like this. Math is not my strong suit."

Everyone burst out laughing, even the doc. By this time, our friends Tanya and Ed had come to visit, so Sonny had an audience. He was dancing around and cracking jokes. We all assured the doctor that this was also normal Sonny behavior.

Then the doctor started getting a little testy. "Do you guys even know where you are in the hospital?! This is the top floor! Palliative Care! Do you even know what Palliative Care means?!"

"Well, yeah."

"People come here to die!" he had to remind us. He certainly was a buzzkill.

"Now, Sonny," he went back to the exam, "Sonny, do you know what day this is?"

Sonny looked him straight in the eye. "Don't try to trick me," he said. "You know that I don't know that one!"

A week later, Sonny and I were sitting in that doctor's office, as he was filling out papers for Sonny's release from medical care.

"Nobody goes home from Palliative Care," the good doctor reminded us. "People go from here to the morgue. Or occasionally, back to another hospital ward. But never home. But that's where you're going, Sonny. I can't see any reason to keep you here. You just don't seem to be dying."

Indeed, after that we had more fun and adventures for over two years. Making a total of almost five years since that fateful day when the doctors first told us that Sonny had only a few weeks to live.