Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When foresight and hindsight converge in the darkness and manifest as self doubt, I realize that predicting a bad outcome and thereby avoiding it does not always merit congratulations. So many reacted to the news assuming it was consolation that we prevented the greater disaster, but I have been too uneasy to accept this relief. The dread gathers a vocabulary now… selfishness, impatience, inconvenience. He got better care yes, but comfort is not just a matter of better hospitals, compassionate doctors, of local and attentive family members. Comfort also comes in familiarity - with things turning out the way you imagined. He pictured dying someday in his corner bedroom with mockingbirds chattering loudly from the bouganvilla and the next crop of oranges ripening out back. Morning sun slanting through the dust-laden windows to fall on his unwaking eyes. Did we drop him off miles from the destination when he could have walked, albeit more painfully, right around the corner to finish the race? From the dread a simple question forms: what if I walk into his room and he whispers “You made a mistake. I should have stayed here”?

The taxi drops me off in his driveway at 1:20AM. I tiptoe back to the room I slept in every night of my first 18 years. Lying in bed I listen to the familiar creaks and groans of the house. Everything echoes here - I can’t imagine how I could have cranked open windows and snuck out to TP friends’ houses without discovery. The steady ticking of the grandfather clock and exhaustion finally combine to bring sleep. In the morning, the chaos of a house turned out of its cupboards greets me along with family members eager to share news of plumbing worries and real estate agents. Soon though, it’s obvious that the noise of four of us chattering and sorting doesn’t quite fill the void. I may have lived here once, but this house had only two real residents, and now they both are gone, taking its soul and personality with them.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I sit a long time in the bathroom at LAX, watching feet and luggage pass in front of the stall. Tennis shoes, pumps, boots dragging carry-ons go by. Staring at the disembodied shoes, I realize I am stalling here tonight, wonder if it’s the taxi ride in the darkness that I need the nerve for, or the destination that has me dallying. I was last here in April. In my suitcase then, three pages of carefully thought through notes, scenarios and possibilities: my role negotiator. I really didn’t think I had a chance, he was stubborn and memories of the disastrous hospital stay in February had faded with his doctor’s clean bill of health. I was nervous, dreading what was going to be a difficult conversation, knowing that I had just a few months before the deposit would run out on the place we hoped he would move to in Portland. He wanted to stay in the house he built 49 years ago and yet, he was 85, living alone, and all the carefully thought-out scenarios argued for a move. You would think years of business negotiations would have prepared me, but once a daughter, always a daughter.

Now it’s nearly midnight and with an hour-long taxi ride, I need to flush the toilet and get going. A couple is mugging for the camera halfway down the long underground walkway to baggage claim; her black wool coat and hat stand out from the blue and green mosaic tile lining the hall and its obvious they are madly in love. Loneliness and failing nerves make me reach for the phone, but I know I’d wake him from sleep and I haven’t even reached the house yet, so I put it back in my purse. How many times in the 25 years since I left home have I made this trip? I convince myself it’s just one more trip, stop to pick up a penny someone’s dropped, and step out into the darkness.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I cannot tell you if it’s the aggravation of a sticking mouse ball,
The suitcase still on the floor behind me
Filled with odds and ends of his
Still unassigned to any home
The demanding clamor of the wind-chime made complainant by a restless south wind
Or the nagging ache where my teeth have clenched too often
But each day I turn away from the screen before the keyboard can register my fingerprints
Sometimes there isn’t enough of me
To write down in words

Monday, January 09, 2006

Been clearing out Dad's house to get it ready to sell, and various smaller and larger complications are keeping me offline, but to tide things over, a picture taken this weekend of Mango, that tiny little ball of fluff, who now goes by Monster at our house. He already weighs over 8 lbs. The picture is off my picture phone and a bit blurry and exaggerated by the angle, but he really does look freakishly large for his head.

When do they stop chewing everything up?

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