A rough return we had of it. Unless you're flying on a medivac you can't get jet service home, not since the 1980s, and we flew stormy skies. I didn't know whether to throw up or raise my hands and shout "woohoo!" After I said goodbye to my sisters in the Toronto airport, it took me another twenty minutes to get to my car. My ears popped for days.
One week ago we moved my father to a nursing home.
My brother and I brought things to his new room on Sunday. My father hasn't been able to go into the basement for some time, and my mother now only uses it for washing, so Jim had brought the tv upstairs. We took their old chairs from the basement, his so they would have someplace to sit him and hers so she would have a familiar place to sit on her visits. We took decorations, mostly from his office wall: his discharge from the forces, his original apprenticeship certificate, the photograph of his father's village, a crucifix, a photo collage, and a photograph of dad and mom, from the 1990s.
We ordered a small television for the room, because dad likes to focus on that sometimes. R, a part of my childhood took our order. (R's engaged for the third time. His own father died last year. He sees Ken Deluca in the mall sometimes and has told his boss he will not wait on him).
The only other daylog I've written mentioned the odd pattern of coincidence, ten years between the deaths of my father's brothers: 1974, 1984, 1994.
We actually noticed my mother first, occasional lapses of memory, though nothing serious. With my father, our brother and his family noticed before the rest of us, because the change was so dramatic. Yet he was also in a position to hide it for awhile. My father was a taciturn man, the quiet one of his family.
Even when I saw him last, in late March, he was walking twice every day and could recognize the people he saw. Two months later he could barely stand unsupported. He smiles when he sees us but does not seem to know exactly who we are. Probable Alzheimer's, with Parkinson's-like symptoms: they cannot know for certain until they perform an autopsy.
He'd been a leader of men, an athlete, and valedictorian of his tech high school. Back then, that position guaranteed an apprenticeship with the city's largest employer, but he deferred that and took other training in the army. He could have gone away to become an engineer-- it was a dream of his-- but they were married old, as things were reckoned then, and they wanted to start a family.
An engineer replaced him when he retired. They kept him on for a year to train his successor, and as a consultant for some time thereafter because only he knew the intricacies of some of the older machines.
My mother retired, worked for the colleges for a time, and then they both travelled everywhere. Their children were settled by then and thrilled to see their parents enjoying life like this.
The day I posted my Nodermeet my brother e-mailed us to say that the situation had reached a crisis. Even with the homecare coming in every day, we remain astounded that my mother, her judgment now somewhat impaired, could have taken care of him for so long. But she was a nurse for so many years, and she would say, about my father, that she took a vow.
The home was not the one we wanted, but the room came open, and now that he's in the system he has priority when another place comes available, one perhaps with a wider range of care, because it's clear my mother will, in a few months, be unable to remain at the house.
He built that house.
But he smiled to see people in the home, and he had his first good meal in sometime. He's had trouble swallowing, the last couple of weeks, and they've been hard-pressed to find anything he could eat. This place had him figured in a moment, and added a thickener to the puree that makes it a consistency that works for him. And they will feed my mother, if she visits over lunch or dinner. One of the senior managers is a friend, an in-law of her late brother's, and her presence assures us. The place is clean and has a surprising number of activities, given the condition of their charges.
She's becoming confused though. We repeat things she has just had explained. She repeats stories. The fabric of time shreds in her accounts, and is rewoven into strange tapestries. And she's angry they will no longer let her drive.
But she knew when we told her that my father had to go to the home.
I think about last week. My brother's eldest graduated elementary school, the valedictorian of her grade 8 class. I had a busy time, having missed Monday. And yesterday I put aside the fact of today. Yesterday I checked e-mail, went to the gym, and then spent too much time online, especially after discovering that someone had hit my site by googling three words which appear (though not together) at my "What's New" page: E2 slash fanfic.
The mind reels. But perhaps, as someone suggested, "E2" means something else to somebody.
L's parents had a dinner party in the evening. She's marrying, at 40, and my wife will be Matron of Honor. We were one of two non-Arabic couples present. After dinner the women talked and danced in one room and the men had strong coffee and talked in another. Save for the absence of wine, they're startlingly like the Italian men of my childhood. They laugh and attempt to explain untranslatable jokes and worry about their community, which has grown large and diffuse. Increasing the feeling of a time warp, they speak highly of John F. Kennedy, in their case because they saw him as a leader who believed in minority rights, and because they utterly despise the current American president. They have no kind words for Saddam Hussein, but since George W. Bush lied or was misinformed about weapons of mass destruction and lied about Iraq's al-Qaeda ties, they see this as a war over one man, and one man is not worth the deaths of so many Arabs and Americans.
Faisel, the patriarch of the group, older than my father but with his wits intact, assured me when I left that I should not be offended by their constant insulting of each other. I said that I understood; their insults are a sign of affection.
"That's exactly right," he said, shaking my hand. "I hope to see you again soon, you son-of-a-bitch."
The men howl.
My dad would have been the one smiling quietly.
Happy Father's Day.
I had the strange luck to take what seems to be everyone's favorite photograph of my dad, about eleven years ago. He's at his workbench with one of his grandsons (that nephew uses the image as a screensaver now). It may be found at http://www.geocities.com/utherworld/biopics/workbench.jpg