Thursday, November 01, 2007

Interiors, Three.

Sunday brunch with Mom.

Pushing her wheelchair into the elevator, she mumbled over her shoulder:

"I'd like to see your father."

"Dad?!? Why?"

"I don't know," she answered. Then simply, "I just want to see him."

Speaking as a woman who has been around the block a couple of times, I can certainly understand being hopelessly in love with one man your entire life. Stuff like that doesn't change.

A few days later, I telephoned Dad in Texas.

"Look--I need to ask you something and I know you can't give me an answer right away, but I'd like you and Fiona to discuss this and get back to me," I said.

"Gosh! What is it? It sounds so serious," he joked.

"Well it kind of is, Dad. I saw Mom the other day and she said she wants to see you."

"Is she alright?" he asked solemnly.

"She's fine-- I mean, well... you know how she is. She's as tough as nails. Stiff upper lip. But Dad, I've gotta tell ya, she's getting worse and worse every day. Me and the Redhead-- when we talk we wonder, 'How much worse can this get?', but it always gets worse and worse." I paused, feeling tears coming. I took a breath and continued, "So she wants to see you, Dad. I think she just misses you. And I miss you. It'd be really good to see you and have a visit. How long has it been? Four, five years?"

"Yeah... the last time we saw all of you was when Fiona and I came up and put Mom's new flooring in the condo. That's about four years ago." He cleared his throat and said, "Let me talk to Fiona and I'll give you a call back-- okay, Boo?"

"'kay," I sniffled. "Thanks, Dad."

So my Father is coming to visit next week, the primary reason being Mom. Because he hasn't seen Mom since the Parkinson's began to accelerate, the Redhead has been trying to bring Dad up to speed, to prepare him for what he's going to see.

"So my mouth won't drop open?" he laughed.

The Redhead answered, "Yeah, Dad-- that's right."

Clearly nothing we've shared with him over the last several years regarding Mom's worsening condition has stuck. Dad hasn't grasped the enormity of what Mom is going through, or possibly he thought we were over-dramatizing.

Being a supremely confident person, I think Dad felt he had a good grasp of Mom's condition. He once read a memoir some guy wrote, who was charting his life and experiences as his Parkinson's-stricken spouse became more and more sick. Dad was moved by the book because he thought it foretold what my sisters and I were going to experience, and he knew it was going to be tough for us. He said to me, "It would behoove you and your sisters to read this book."

"Behoove us? That's so stupid," said the Redhead when I told her.

"I know. Like we need to read the fucking book to figure out what's going to happen. Jesus Christ. We're living it," I said bitterly.

After calling Mom one day, Dad phoned the Redhead and said, "You know, I could barely understand her. I think it was nerves."

"Nerves? Like being nervous about talking to you?"

"Yeah. I think I caught her when she was painting and I interrupted her..."

She heard the sound of my voice and lost her composure. Typical.

"No-- no, Dad. You could barely understand her because the nerves in her vocal chords are dying. Pretty soon she won't be able to talk at all. She wants to see you now because pretty soon, she won't be able to talk at all."

The normally jocular and breezy Dad said, "Oh."

I once asked Mom if she wished she still had Dad around to help her through her illness.

"No," she answered. "He wouldn't be able to handle it." Mom knows him and his faults better than anyone.

So. All the mysterious things which are contained in the Hal and Mary Safe Deposit Box, those things that are only between the two of them-- these two people who love each other so much and who suffered in different ways while married to one another-- those things are going to be spoken of in private for the last time. Whatever is in the safe deposit box hasn't seen the light of day for almost 25 years. Now it'll be taken out, laid in the sun and given fresh air.

Whatever they think of their visit together will only be known by them. Those regrets Dad may feel (if any), that longing Mom will most definitely feel, will be laid out. Those things will be examined together, or more likely, will be considered privately.

Then Mom and Dad will put those things back into their box, lock it, and put it back on the shelf.


The Scarlet Pervygirl said...

I only thought I was awed by the first two. Thank you for writing this.

I know next-to-nothing about Parkinson's. I had no idea your mother's had advanced so far, or so quickly. I'm sorry. For both of you.

I hope the visit goes well for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Completely fascinating, parts 1, 2, and 3. You are just amazing, and your writing is amazing. Next week should be a real.... a real....... my god I don't know what! A test for Hal because he is even less patient than me. A test for Mary because Hal is even less patient than me. Her speech was so bad today that several times I was sitting front of her looking into her face and I COULDN'T HEAR HER ...... "What? What? What?" It was one of my worst days down there ever. Everything went wrong, I jumped from apology to apology to frustration to tears about the cat to bitterness about it all to low-grade fury at the construction along Rockrimmon, to abject terror at suddenly going the wrong way on a little one-way segment of poorly-signed, construction-ravaged Rockrimmon. Fucking cars were coming the other way! I got us out of the way OK but horrified and cursing. I see all this unfolding every week, punctuated by endless pleas of "What? What? What?" and I think, Behoove. It would BEHOOVE me to be as patient as Mom. Who was patient enough to forgive me with the gentle sweep of a hand for going the wrong way on a one-way section of street.

T-Bone said...


I'm in awe that you're in awe.

Love you.