Archive for May, 2012

From Oops to Profound

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. (Mark Twain)

I am busily writing when a phone call catches me off-guard. Caller ID reads the name of my uncle. The voice, however, sounds different. I can’t tell whether this is because the message comes as a surprise, I should be wearing my hearing aids, or my mind hasn’t left the world of my writing. Yes, when engaged in creation, my synapses lose contact with all other reality. This experience is far more engrossing than reading the last few pages of a captivating mystery novel.

Okay, enough preparation—or excuses for my oops. I hear the words dad, died last night in his sleep, and went comfortably. Naturally I believe that I am getting that final call. My heart drops into my stomach. Yet, I remain calm on the phone, so that my cousin, with the same name as my uncle, doesn’t know until later that I have made a most serious error. Fortunately I only make three phone calls before the confusion is untangled, two to my brothers and the third to Dad’s nursing home. The third confirms that my father’s nurse just gave her alive-and-breathing patient his medicine.

Phone call four: I discover who really passed on, my uncle who has been suffering with Alzheimer’s for years. My cousin is kind, but I suspect that he wonders about my sanity. He assures me he will let me know when funeral arrangements are complete. I tell him many people would hide under a rock after an incident like this. No, not me. I splash it out over the Internet!

Phone call five: “Uh, Tom, Dad just resurrected.” Other than surprise I can only guess what my little brother is thinking. I tell him what happened, the best I can. Then, during phone call six, I relay the same message to my sister-in-law. I am MOST grateful for understanding family. Of course phone call seven, to my middle brother touches reality. He won’t forget this moment. I shall be mocked until the end of time. Okay, maybe not that long. It only seems like it will. But then, I would expect no less. In fact, I would be disappointed. Nevertheless, we laugh—together.

All of this occurs before nine o’clock in the morning. I need a nap.

Nevertheless, I must visit my father. It seems only right. And this is where the wow comes in. Obviously I have to tell him the story before my middle brother does, before it gathers momentum of its own and becomes legend. Dad smiles, even laughs a little.

Before long our conversation deepens. We talk about moments in both of our lives when we thought life couldn’t get worse. Instead it got better, much better. Dad never thought he would live to be twenty-six. He took bombs apart in World War II. We talk about my mother, how much he loved her, still does.

Finally, during a lighter moment he says he feels someone touch his foot. There is no one else in the room but the two of us.

“Mom?” I ask.

“Could be,” he says. “I’m sick now. You know that. But it won’t be much longer.”

“Moments in life when it couldn’t get worse. Instead it gets better, much better?”

He nods.

There are tears in my eyes, but my soul feels light, at least for the moment.

For my Uncle Harold. May your homecoming be blessed. I’ll be saying goodbye officially soon. Say hello to Aunt Bette for me. See you again someday.

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My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people. (Orson Welles)

Sure, I enjoy talking to the adults at family gatherings. I’d like at  least another hour with my daughter-in-law Sarah to talk about her Germany experiences, getting her recipe for ice cream cake, and catching up. My sixty-six-year old body can only take so much tag in the heat—even if it is freeze tag. (This name becomes a misnomer when the temperature goes over eighty-five degrees.)  However, my granddaughters’ eyes have a direct link into my soul. Grandma-come-play-with-me could just as easily be a summons to court. I am bound to appear.

My niece Emily gets the game Trouble from a shelf. I’m amazed that four-year-old Rebe has a notion of how the game is played. She also knows the universal trick of taking two turns instead of one. “Okay, Rebe, go ahead and cheat,” Kate says. Rebe, as the literal pre-school child, takes all four of her blue pieces and places them in the end position. Kate and I laugh. I’m glad Kate chooses humor over slugging little sister. Perhaps the fact that Grandma would rather lose in this game has something to do with it. Don’t know.

I do know that dessert time doesn’t roll around until nine o’clock. This is my opportunity to lose—control, not weight. There are three choices: lemon cake, brownies, and ice cream cake. Of course I need to try all three. And since I brought the brownies and no one will take them home, I have to save them from the trash dump.

There are options. Separate what is left into sections and freeze. Unfortunately, frozen brownies are delicious. Then again, I could separate what is left, freeze and forget about them. No, I would have a better chance of forgetting I had a migraine, which by the way, excessive chocolate will provide. Yes, the friendly neighbor ploy. That would work better. Divide the calories throughout the neighborhood.

Ah, too much play. Too many desserts. Where is the balance?

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