My father had been missing for days, and I had begun to accept that he was likely dead, when I discovered that he had been arrested at a fast food restaurant for agreeing to pay for sex with an undercover cop and a fictitious minor. I know now that he gave a bondsman a bad check and ran. He ran far.
Paranoid and malnourished, he began to lose his mind while fleeing from Pennsylvania to South Florida. A young woman called my grieving mother to tell her that a man had given her his checkbook and told her to spend it. The police found him unclothed and delusional, swimming in a canal. They transported him to a Miami-Dade hospital.
It was then, after days of restless worry, that, thanks to a compassionate nurse, I was able to connect with him for just a few seconds. "I've always known you were gay," I said. "Please don't kill yourself." I could hear him weep. He said, "OK," and hung up.