The Solution

She sat waiting in a waiting room that she had visited too many times before. But this time it was going to be different. The doctor summoned her with a promise that he had a solution. He clearly warned her that it would not fix all of the current problems. Not a cure to her father’s diminishing health but a solution.  She wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

Finally the doctor and his busy little assistant hustled into the room, barely acknowledging that she sat there as they continued their conversation. After shooting a quick nervous look at her, the assistant darted from the room.

"You know these problems were many years in the making…" She was watching the assistant leave as the doctor started speaking to her. He had not even addressed her properly, but that was not uncommon, as he seemed to begin most discussions midstream.

"Brilliant man, your father. Pity he did not focus on his health issue the same way he attacked his profession. We would not be facing these hurdles if he had." The doctor sighed and so did she. It was true her father was brilliant: a professor and researcher. His colleagues were carrying on, but seemed to lack focus without his direction. He had so much more to offer if his body could continue. But she didn't really care about that. He was her father: she wanted that many more years of his love, laughter and guidance. She wasn't ready to lose that.

The possibility to improve his health, if not cure her father, was why she was sitting in this hyper-focused doctor’s office waiting to hear his "solution." The doctor was part of the university where her father worked. They approached her when Dad's health took the last radical turn and had to have his foot amputated. Dad's spirits started to fail right along with his health. She was worried if he didn’t rally emotionally he would continue to decline physically. He had to "get his head in the game."

The doctors and the whole university seemed to be worried, too. That was why they were focusing on this so intently. Or possibly it was just another great puzzle for them to solve. Sometimes it didn't feel like they cared about the man who was her father, just his brain.

She realized she had not been listening closely as the doctor continued mumbling about her father's poor health choices. Choices she blamed on Dad being too focused on his research and not his own future or mortality. When she finally caught up with the doctor's conversation, he was saying something about her father's research leading them to this possible solution.

The doctor chuckled. "Don't think The Professor would have ever thought he would be his own test subject."

"Was my father working on something that would help with his prosthesis? He seems to have healed enough to start working with the artificial leg. Or is it something to actually stop the disease progression? I didn't think he was working on anything like that…"

Just then voices interrupted from the hallway, people laughing and making silly cooing sounds. The assistant pushed open the door with her hips as her arms were full of laundry. No, it was wiggling. It was a baby? Yes, a small bald baby with one chubby little arm waving erratically in the air.

The doctor continued talking as if the assistant and her bundle weren't there. "No, no research specifically on diseases. But he focused on the future. Your father was always such a visionary. And we hope that 'his' amazing vision will continue well into the future…much farther than we could ever have imagined."

Finally the doctor spun in his chair to face the assistance: "Here, here, hand over Junior. Or better yet, let her have him." She was confused: the doctor looked too old to have a baby. But who was she to judge? Men were able to keep reproducing much later than women…

The assistant brought the baby over so that she could look down into the small curious eyes peering back at her.

"Here he is. The solution to our problems…of course it will take time, lots of time till he is grown, but with the right environment, the right nurturing, we—or should I say he?—should eventually carry on where your father left off."

She tried to bring her attention back to the doctor and away from the baby she held, who was now tugging at her hair. "Yes, about my father's leg…"

"Well, of course he will get a leg. A new improved bionic one even, but there is no replacing it, really, nor will we be able to reverse the damage from his disease or those incurred by his own bad habits." The doctor tssked disapprovingly. "But WE are talking about 'The FUTURE.'"

When she didn't react, he leaned excitedly forward, nodding to her, and to the bundle in her arms.

"What are you saying?"

"Junior, of course. He will take over where The Professor left off. And God willing will go light years ahead of dear old Dad's research."

"Again, just what are you saying?"

"THIS is your dad. Well, at least a genetic copy of him. A clone, per se. We took the liberty—er—OPP-or-tunity, that the amputation provided."

"You CLONED my FATHER?!?! You had no right!"

"Well, of course we did. He signed an agreement: standard practice in the lab, genetic research and all that. He will be thrilled when he realizes that HIS research is progressing along so well. Once he gets out of that cognitive funk he is in."

"But this isn’t my father. This is a BABY."

"Yes, and just think what that baby will accomplish with your father's brains and all the future has to hold."

"But IT will never be My Father."

"Of course not, my dear. What are you looking for? A replacement? Face it. Your father is coming to the end of his life. THIS is the future. We need your father’s brain to face the future, to GIVE us a future. And it will never have to face the dismal start your father had to: the war years, the poverty, and all those mouths his family had to feed. It’s amazing to think with all that he had to suffer, just how far he was able to come, and all the things that he was able to accomplish."

As she sat there she thought of her dad. Dad had overcome a rough beginning, but wasn't it what had shaped him to become the great man he was? There were glimmers of her beloved grandmother in her dad's gentleness, her grandfather's mischievousness; the perseverance came from having to scrap to survive, the resourcefulness encouraged him to look at different solutions.

She looked down at the baby in her arms. How would this "solution" ever grow up to be the man her father was when IT had neither nature nor nurture to help him grow?

Yes, her dad had given so much to the scientific world but he had been her world. His gentle smile, his self-depreciating sense of humor, his way with a pun, his reassuring touch just when she needed it most, couldn't be taught…especially in a lab.

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