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Friday, December 30, 2011

Do not go gentle into that good night - Dylan Thomas.

It's become clear to me that the end is very near for Dad. It's been this kind of approaching finality for a while now, but I feel in my gut, that it will be very soon.
When I went to see him today, as has been the case for the past couple of weeks, he has told me that people from our lives are coming to see him. People that have been gone for a while now.
My Aunt Betty, My Aunt Gail.
Today it was my Uncle Bill and aunt Marge. I made the two martinis for us, and he said, "Do we have enough for everyone else?" I said yes, you have enough gin and vermouth for several more drinks. "Okay, good".
He got up, and he is now very frail, it takes him a long time to cross the room, and he is shaky on his feet. I watch him like a hawk, but I have to be careful. If he sees me doing that, he says, "Knock it off, I'm fine".
He went to his little kitchenette. Spread a dishtowel, washed the 3 other glasses he has, and lined them up. Got the shot glass and added it to the line up.
"I don't have any olives". "Yeah, you do, in the door of the frig". He struggled to find them, I resisted the urge to help him. "The jar with the red lid". "Okay got it", also added to the line up.
He walked back slowly, shakily, and sat down.
He was more lucid today, that's the thing with Alzheimer's, it's so arbitrary. I had the courage to talk to him today about something I've wanted to say for the past couple of weeks. Something I've gone over with close friends the past two weeks.
"Dad, do you think about Mom a lot?". "Yes. more than I should". "Me too".
"Do you believe she's waiting for you?". "Yes".
We have a very close bond. It occurred to me recently that he's staying here for me. Really, I think he is. He's worried about me.
"Dad, I just want you to know, that if you get tired, and want to go be with Mom, I'm okay. I'll be fine".
He looked at me quizzically for a moment...""Tell me that again?".
"Dad, if you are tired and want to move on, and go be with Mom, go ahead, I'll be okay, you understand?".
He sat back, asked me about my day, we watched Bonanza, I finished my drink, as did he, I kissed him and said, "Tomorrow is New Years Eve, I'll call you let you know what I'm doing". "Okay, I'm so happy you're here".
I am too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hold me close and hold me fast, The magic spell you cast, This is la vie en rose...Tranlastion via Louis Armstrong

I had a choice the summer of my junior year of college, take a trip to Europe with my fellow art majors, or have a car for senior year.
Amsterdam? London? Paris? Are you guys serious? I'm there already. The first time was  perfect. I was literally awestruck standing in front of Monet's, and Chagall's and Lautrec's... It was insane. My brain overloaded. I. Am. Standing. Inches. From. The Canvas That. Was Brushed BY MONET...
Trocadero, Montmartre, Pigalle, and the food...Jesus H. Macy it's nearly impossible to get a bad meal there. I love anyplace you can get a bowlful of coffee for breakfast.
Second trip, with  my ex. Budget plan. We stayed at the Hotel Picard. Fellow geeks will snicker. It was in the old Jewish quarter, many of the doors had Star of David's on the jambs. The owner was very patient with my fractured Franglish.  His wife was Polish. Long married, they were, and I have no actual idea of their true story, but in my head I concocted a very romantic, dramatic tale of him spiriting her out of Poland with the Resistance. Sat at their kitchen table and attempted to communicate over coffee. So like my Mom, she was. Cooking me breakfast, and coaxing stories out of me.
Proprietor Picard had a sense of humor as well. When Patrick and I checked in, again, budget plan, cheapest room please...
It had bunk beds. He was like "You are married? No, you need big bed". I said, ermmm, "We'll make do". Gallic shrug, sigh, pointed stare..."Big. Bed"...*wink*". In my head, "I'm versatile, I got it, no sweat..." In reality, I just met his stare, and raised an eyebrow. He reluctantly acquiesced.
We walked, we wandered, we wondered, we slummed. Some of the best stuff that happened was so random. One day after a rigorous museum tour, planned to a Martha Stewart degree by me, we schlepped back to the hotel. We stopped at the local grocery for the necessities. I'm walking through, and BLAM, there is a wall, a WALL of Camembert. The clouds parted and the angels sang. I was already in possession of the national food, a baguette, tucked in my pocket unvarnished, as I had gone native, happy camper. I look around, and Patrick was absent, obsessively looking for peanut butter. We did find some, with about an inch of dust on it. Breakfast the next morning was epic. "I am NOT eating that stinky crap..." "Really? You are surrounded by some of the most exquisite cuisine and pastry in the world, and you are turning up your nose?"...
This is why we are divorced.
There was also the extremely intimidating night concierge. Young guy, Grumpy McScowly. There was a pet parrot in the lobby. One night, delirious from art, the Seine, and the carb rush of the ubiquitous baguette, feeling saucy, said, "HEY? Does the bird have a name?" "Oui. THE bird's name is name is Johnny". Smirk from me. "Seriously? Johnny"???, again with the Gallic shrug.
The next night, we again stumbled back to the hotel dead tired. Scary concierge man was sitting with a friend watching "West Side Story". At that moment, "America" was playing for all it was worth. He looked at me, winked, and did a slight shoulder shimmy. I wasn't afraid of him after that.
Parisians have the sense to shop every day, cook fresh. Consequently, if you hit the stores, as per budget plan, around 6pm, it's madness. That is where the peanut butter-Camembert debate occurred. This was the mid 90's. Already, the green grocer, charcuterie, Boulangerie, Patisserie were disappearing. I hate that.
So, me and PB man were in line, and a middle aged, and obviously stressed woman elbows me, and goes off, in French. If I am being mistaken for a local, I take that as a compliment. Patrick caught on very quickly. "Oui, Moi aussi"...Me-"Oui, D'accord".
I told him later that I imagine she was railing about stupid Americans holding up the line with their credit cards. When he whipped said card out, I was like, GAHHHH, hide it!!!
When we got to the cashier, he apologized for the wait. He made us right away. I said, laughing, "No problem, I always pick the wrong line, Murphy's Law". He says, "Oooh is Murphy?" Eh, "The first guy that discovered merde happens".
Merde does indeed happen, and sometimes it's serendipitous.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Moores.

Again, I'm reflecting. As a friend put it, many of us are closer to the back door than the front door of life. I have no siblings. I do however have an extended family that are the best. 27 first cousins. A ridiculous amount of seconds. And, amazingly, though I can be a black sheep, a real pain in the ass, I love them all, and they love me back.
My Dad's baby sister Madelene, the wife of one of the most intelligent guys I have ever known, and a very patient Mom, is close to my heart. She seems to have some kind of radar for knowing when I am at the end of my rope. I am down, she calls me...
They lived far away from the Midwest, my home ground, in Connecticut. Still, I'd visit, and it was golden. A different planet, that household, and a good one.
Happy warm chaos. Five kids, and all of them in my corner. I felt like some kind of exotic species.
This particular visit, PJ Jr, his sisters and I for some reason only known to those of us possessing the estrogen were dragging him down the hall. I have no recollection of what kind of torture, and he hollered at my aunt, MOM! She's treating me like a BROTHER!!!
My uncle, Pete Sr. is also dealing with advanced  Alzheimer's. Pete is one of the most intelligent guys I have ever known, and has a wicked sense of humor. He worked for years in publishing, the Mad Men era, sharp as a tack.
He is great at repartee. I've never known anyone as sharp.
He and my aunt were visiting us, here in FL. I was an obnoxious teenager then...Smartass...
He knocked on the doorjamb to my room. I was reading. He said "You need to come outside with me, there's something you need to see"
Me-"eye roll, What? NO".
Uncle Pete-"Come on..GET UP, come see..."
He grabbed my hand and drug me outside, giggling the whole time. He led me to a palm tree in the yard, where there was a huge mushroom, and pointed. Written in Sharpie were the words, "Troll House". I looked at him, and he was falling down with laughter. I joined him.
As a Dad, he is a stand up guy. Kelly, she and I are the two youngest of the brood, told me this story. "I got in trouble one day for talking in class. My teacher made me stay late, and assigned an essay. A thousand word essay, subject, a ping pong ball..."
She went home and told her Dad. He marched to the basement, got a ping pong ball, and wrote "A thousand word essay" on it. Sent her to school the next day with that. Like I said, love him.
There were great times for me at this household, fishing for carp in the local pond with bread, climbing the rocks nearby, and even me and Suzy, Kelly's older sister staying so very awake so that we could put Kelly's bra on the dog, PJ, and send him down the hall.
I love you guys, great times, fond memories, that'a what get's me through.