She remembered. I certainly did too. Continue reading
This post was originally entitled “I am nothing but feelings.” You’ll see.The phone rang at 10:46 AM on November 17. It was a Monday so I was at work when my parents’ home number flashed on my cell phone, making my heart jump to my throat.
“Hello?” I answered, feeling tense.
I willed myself to breathe again.
Dad said he felt bad for not calling more. He just called to chat.
For years, Dad didn’t know my phone number – seriously – and it drove my mother nuts. She gave him grief about it constantly, writing the number on notepads in the house and entering it into his seldom-used and seldom-seen cell phone. But I always told him the same thing: I know how much you love me.
Still, it’s a surprise when Dad calls. A great surprise. I drop everything for him.
We talked about The Voice, which he absolutely loves. The bromance between Adam and Blake cracks him up. But he has a new favorite now.
— One Chicklette (@1chicklette) November 18, 2014
Dad asked about my cold and told me that he’s feeling good. The last three years have taught me not to take that for granted. Tomorrow is not assured.
Holidays are different now. On Thanksgiving night, I cried in my childhood bedroom thinking ahead to the day when I will no longer have a dad.
I used to save projects for Dad. A necklace that needs fixing. A shelf to be mounted on my apartment wall. He was my own personal McGyver. No challenge was too great for Dad.
But now, Dad is often physically vulnerable. I don’t ask him to do things for me now because I know it would break his heart to say “I can’t. I’m so sorry, Jen.”
My father seems to be fading like an old Polaroid. Sometimes I think about asking if he’s scared. And by scared, I mean about dying. But that’s a door I can’t open. Even thinking and typing the word feels like a betrayal.
Dad spent six days in a hospital two hours’ drive from home last week. His condition, pulmonary hypertension, is very difficult to manage. He has an excellent specialist who does everything you’d want a doctor to do, from calling the house to check in between appointments to visiting my father in the hospital, even though he’s out on vacation.
But getting Dad back on course takes time and tries his patience. He hates the hospital food, and the hospital twin bed and worst of all, the hospital TV that doesn’t offer a guide or menu. Fortunately he loves the nurses (and they love him).
I call a few times each day, trying to encourage and distract him.
“At least The Voice is on tonight, Dad.”
“You’re right, Jen. I can’t wait. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”
“I love you, Dad. So much.”
And then I hang up and cry. I can’t let Dad know how scared I am.
December 18 update: Dad was just diagnosed with shingles.
Staying up past my ‘bedtime’ has been a way of life, all of my life. As much as I love sleep, I happen to like having my sleep start late.
I couldn’t tell you if nature or nurture made me a night owl. My father in particular, loves to stay up late and when I’m in Rehoboth with my family or back home in Scranton, I am shocked if I find my father has gone to sleep before me.
Even in my earliest memories, I exist as a night owl.
When I was a little kid, Dad worked second shift so I spent most nights with Mom and Nana. While Nana would often retreat to her bedroom in the early evening, my goal was to stay downstairs in the den with my TV-watching Mom as late as possible.
After a week of miserable rain and humidity, Saturday dawned perfectly pleasant: sunny and dry.
But it wasn’t the prospect of a good hair day that had me smiling. Instead, it was the fact that the future owner of an unwanted – and very, very large – piece of furniture would soon be removed from my bedroom in the new apartment. Continue reading
It makes me sad not to know if I would have called her Grandmother or Granny or some other name.
It would not be Nana. That name was reserved for my mother’s mother. I never got a chance to call my father‘s mother anything; she died when I was less than a year old.
I have to use my imagination to fill in the gaps of my real life knowledge.
On Monday, once it was clear that my father was doing well post-procedure and would be released the next day, my mother made the trip north to Scranton while I stayed behind to wait for Dad‘s discharge. Her departure ensured that I got to watch The Bachelorette in the hotel.
On Tuesday, Dad was beyond eager to get home. After six days in a narrow hospital bed, being awakened at all hours for checks of his vital signs and numerous needle sticks, who could blame him? Dad desperately wanted to put on his own clothes and escape, but he still had a heart monitor on him and an IV port for medication delivery. While we waited for final orders, I used a lime popsicle to get him to behave and sit still.
Are all men children for life?
When he got sprung from
jail the hospital, we made a break for it.
Together we drove up the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Mom’s Cadillac. Traveling by car with Dad is better than driving with my mother (sorry, Mom). He lets me control the radio and doesn’t criticize my driving.
In fact, he typically falls asleep for approximately 49% of any car trip. It’s only weird when he raises an arm and points zombie-like mid-snooze. Given how much he uses his hands when awake and talking, this should not have surprised me. Dad blames being Polish for that (and lots of other things).
We spent most of the drive tuned into XM-Sirius 90s’ station. Dad didn’t know TLC’s No Scrubs when it came on, but I noticed him tapping his toes to the music and took that as an invitation to give him the history of Chilli, T-Boz and most importantly, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, as well as to explain the concept of a ‘scrub.’
Dad is now fully on-board with the fact that women don’t want or need no scrubs. A scrub would get no love from him should I accidentally date one.
Telling Dad that Left Eye was the one who burned down Andre Rison‘s mansion really put the whole story into focus. He seemed appropriately sad when I told him that Left Eye died in a car accident in Central America.
I was about to tell him about T-Boz’s battle with sickle-cell anemia and Chilli’s history with Usher, but then Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s Good Vibrations came on and I had to keep up.
Dad had never made the connection between the actor he likes, Mark Wahlberg, and the dude who “sang” with a funky bunch and lifted cinder blocks on a barbell.
I didn’t bring up the wonderful Calvin Klein campaign. There are limits to the things I will discuss with my father. I did, however instruct Dad never to call Mr. Wahlberg “Marky Mark” should he ever meet the actor. Can’t have Dad’s handsome face getting punched.
After passing through the Lehigh Valley tunnel, we hit construction-related traffic. Neither of us were bothered. We had great tunes and even better conversation to help us pass the time.
I intend to drive my father around again when I’m back in Scranton in a few weeks. We haven’t yet exhausted the possibilities of 90s on 9, but there’s still the 80s station.