Sunday, November 05, 2006

Walk in the Rays of a Beautiful Sun


In case you're wondering, I won't be going to L.A. next week.

My Uncle Joe and his wife are celebrating their 25th anniversary on Nov. 11 and they had invited me out there for the festivities.

Now I hate to fly and I've been using it as an excuse not to go on any serious kind of trip in years.

It sounded like it would be fun, with so many of my cousins showing up. They told me there was a lady they wanted me to meet and I've been striking out on the East Coast so much, I wondered if things might go better on the other side of the country.

So, like a lot of things, I pretended to think seriously about doing it. And in the end, I didn't do it.

I've got reasons (excuses?) starting off with my father's condition. I don't know what's happening with him and my sister is worried the nursing home might call while I'm away and tell her that the rehab is over, come pick up your dad.

I spoke to Joe and he understands. It's his brother, after all, and he knows what we've been going through.

I promised I'd get out there soon, and I'm thinking about moving out there after we get my father's situation sorted out. But then I've been talking about moving out there for many years and I'm still in Brooklyn.

On The Run

I started my day on Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, watching the human tidal wave known as the New York Marathon roll by.

No matter how many times I watch the marathon, I never get tired of it. All the people, all the nationalities, the costumes, personal messages--it's a blast. And then it's over so quickly.

This year I was down by 65th Street, hanging with a co-worker, while yet another co-worker ran by us on her way to the finish line.

A group of bagpipers played for the runners, and one lady took a break from her run to do a jig right in front of them.

From there, I was off to Coney Island to visit my father, who is confined to a wheel chair. I got there just as they were serving lunch. A tape machine was playing this old song called "O-o-h Child," which talks about how things are gonna get easier, some day when the world is much brighter.

I looked around the room at this elderly, sick people. Many of them didn't seem to know where they were. One lady sat in her wheelchair and just wailed like a baby.

It was upsetting, but getting anxious or depressed doesn't help the situation, so I took out my mother's mass card, the one with St. Martin de Porres (his feast day was Nov. 3) and I prayed for this lady, and for my father, and for everybody else in the room.

The fact is they are in a tough situation and they are getting the best care possible. But they are a time in life when there is no much more that can be done for them. It shows you have to do your living now, see and do things while you are still able. And don't poison yourself with regret.

I met my sister-in-law today, when my brother walked into the hospital with his new wife. They've been together for a while and married for about a year, but this is the first time we laid eyes on each other. It's kind of complicated, but since I'm slowly losing my father, I could use some new family members.

Poker Face

We took my father downstairs to the lobby and it turned into one of those situations where we talked around him, but not to him. Between the dementia and hearing loss, he really can't participate in most conversations. He kept on insisting he had to pay a bill, apparently convinced he's in a hotel.

I didn't argue. I just told him the cashier was off today and would be back on Monday. I even wheeled him over to the office and showed him the locked door. That seemed to satisfy him.

After my brother and his wife left, I played poker with my dad. I had to tell him what to do on several occassions and he would only toss away one card. But he did surprise me once.

"What do you have ?" I asked him.

"A straight."

Convinced he was wrong, I took a look at his cards. And, son-of-a-bitch, he did have a straight, the old bugger.

There's a fabulous old Wurlitzer juke box in the lobby and somebody put on a Righteous Brothers album.

Well, after "You Lost That Loving Feeling," and "Unchained Melody" I had enough, but they kept on singing, the bastards, belting out a bunch of songs I never heard of and a really painful rendition of "The White Cliffs of Dover." If people had sung it like that back in World War II, the Nazis would have won.

It was getting late so I took my father back upstairs and told him I had to go. I promised I'd be back next week and then I headed back down to the boardwalk toward the train station.

Yes, Coney Island is the last stop on the subway, but you know, it's also the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean. So, people leaving that nursing home for the last time are heading off on a whole new voyage, aren't they?

I got a call tonight from my niece, Kristin, who is a freshman in college (I still can't believe it!) in upstate New York. She was doing some project and she had all these questions about the health of various family members. God, she started to sound like the emergency room doctor I spoke to the day my father had the stroke.

She sounded so mature, so intelligent, nothing like the little baby I bounced on my lap, well, it's like last week to me, but it really was 17 years ago. I told her of my desire to go to L.A. and she thought that was a good idea. She said it's a good place for creative person.

We talked a little while longer and then she had to go. I told her I loved her and when I hung up, my first thought was, God I'm a lucky bastard.

So, yes, maybe someday we will actually get it toghether and get it undone. Maybe we will walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.

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