My father and I are driving to Chimacum.
To what used to be his house.
We arrive. The sun is up and low in the sky and it's colder in Chimacum than Port Townsend. I help my father out, with his oxygen tank.
My sister comes out, still in her robe. K follows.
"It's chaos," she says. "T is still mad, but in town she has her cousin introducing her to everyone. Out here she wouldn't." My niece is going to the town high school, not the county one.
Our father is more short of breath standing despite the oxygen. We walk slowly to the house.
Boxes everywhere and some unpacking. "I can't do much. This new chemo is kicking my butt." says my sister.
We settle my father in his second favorite chair and start tea. In the kitchen, my sister raises her eyebrows. I shrug and eye roll a little. Our father has moved in to my house and has what used to be the guest room on the main floor. He has turned his house over to my sister and her husband. My niece goes back and forth from their house to her father's, now in the same county. Everyone is grumpy, but the combination of the slow progression of the cancer and my sister's work at last putting her on total disability and that K was not working..... they moved. Here is a house. My father doesn't really need it and he is so frail and dying of emphysema. And my niece is here in eighth grade, so that if her mother dies, she will have her father and stepfather.
My sister jokes that our father can move back in with K if she dies. We think they'd kill each other in a week. It's hard for my father to be at my house, he's such an introvert. With my son at college, though, we all are. Me, my daughter, my father. My house has three floors so we can all escape to our quiet areas. We are ten blocks from my niece's father's house and the girls are in the same grade. They go back and forth.
We sit and have tea with the gorgeous tea set. Our aunt gave it to my sister before she died, said that her children were not interested in it. It is very old, with thin cups that are nearly see through. A delicate gold rim protects the edge.
After the tea, K and I unpack. My sister directs where each thing goes, some to Goodwill. "WHY did we pack THAT?" she says, but it's because she was so tired and sick. She gets too tired quickly and goes in for a nap. My father is asleep in the chair. K goes in with her. I fold the newsprint and carry it to the car to be recycled. I wake my father. "It's time to go home."
And we go.
For reQuest 2018.