Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jive Turkey

He never asks for her anymore.  He used to, in the beginning.  When she first went into the hospital and for a little while after that.  Her illness changed his life rather abruptly.  Suddenly, he had his own room in a lovely place, an environment of kindness that made him somewhat uneasy.  He sat in a fancy chair in the common area with the other elderly folks.  Like a big monkey in a library.

"When is she coming back?"

"I wish I could tell you, Dad."

"What's the matter with her?"

"Cancer.  She's pretty sick."

"Oh, no."

I could hear the upsetment in his voice.  It was mild, but real.  It didn't seem like he missed her.  He might have, but I don't think so.  He just preferred when she was around.  She made the food and told him when to do things.  Like go to sleep and wake up, take the empty soda cans to the dumpster.


"Where's that girl?" he asked a few weeks later.

"What girl?" I wanted him to name her.  To give a shit about who she was.

"My wife.  Mary."  He pointed to the photograph I'd put on his nightstand.

"That's my mother you're talking about."

"Okay," he laughed.  "Where is she?"

"She's at my house.  I told you."

"Is she coming back?"

"I don't know, pal.  It's hard to say."

At that point, the apartment had been emptied and her furniture, given away. Even if a miracle occurred, there really was no place for her to come back to.  But Gene Dall wouldn't understand that.  And I couldn't explain it to him, even if I tried.


"A lady came," he told me one day, several months after Mom had died.  "She cut my hair.  Who pays for that?"

"Don't worry about it," I rubbed his shoulder.  "It looks nice."

"Thank you," he said.  "I'm a handsome guy."


"Are you coming over for Thanksgiving?" I stopped by to see him on Monday.

"I guess so.  Are you making a turkey?"

"No.  A turducken."

I started to explain what it is.  A chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey.  It's hard to imagine.  I guess you really have to see it to believe it.

"I thought you were telling me a joke," he said.  "Will the boys be there?"

Rory and Desmond are ten and almost twelve.  My husband and I are happily married and live together in the same house.  Where the fuck else does my father think my children will be for the holiday?

"Do you want your grandkids there?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied.  "They'll be happy to see me."

I believe it.

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