Like I wanted to sing “The Circle of Life” in the shower.
Perhaps I am just moody.
Yesterday my dad and stepmom came out to see me. They are both over 70, and have underlying health issues. “Hey!” I said, and waved. Super weird. As I’ve gotten older, and also having known people with dementia, touch has become more important to me. Family members with dementia may not be able to operate in the verbal world, but in my experience, they always like hugs and kisses, and having lotion rubbed into their hands.
They had brought folding chairs because they are always prepared. Our haunted porch appears to be held up by the paint that is left on it. The poor house needs painting so badly. But I only think of improvements to the place I live as ways the rent will go up.
So we sat at least six feet apart, and we chatted. I heard about my dad’s business, which is pretty quiet, but he doesn’t seem terribly concerned. People will need lawyers again. He told me a story about confronting a dude who was spouting racial epithets at a bar in Baldwin City, Kansas.
My dad’s brother is half Japanese.
It’s a long story.
My dad pulls out a photo of my uncle, and shows it to the guy, who’s like, what? How?
Reminding me of all the times I have been nearby when someone said something nasty about black people, or Catholics, or Jews. There’s always that initial moment of, did that just happen? And then the trying to figure out how to address it. With my students, it was much easier. I was like, you’re not going to talk like that in front of me.
My stepmom brought me banana bread. This is one of her primary caretaking behavior, the making and delivering of banana bread. It works for me. Yum. She also brought some flowers cut from their yard, and TOILET PAPER. I will say no more.
Sometimes I was closer than six feet, when we held things out to each other, just for half a second. This will make you crazy. It’s why I kind of don’t mind being here alone. I don’t have to negotiate any of these scary unknowns: six feet is safe. Six feet is not safe.
My dad touched his face, and my stepmom told him not to.
My dad is mixing and pouring concrete with his newfound time. This is very reassuring to me. Hard labor makes him feel good.
When we said goodbye, we did another round of weird things. I put my hands together and bowed. I don’t know.
I try to think it will not end for a long, long time, but then, these days are long. Time now moves so slow you can’t see it at all.
We are still in the transformation process. Not knowing how this is changing us. Before this began, I was starting to think about what my next phase in life will be. I do not know.
Living in not knowing is honest. It makes me uncomfortable. I want to fill in blanks, to settle. But that’s not where I am, that’s not where we are. Not yet.
Image: “The Palace of Donn’Anna,” Jules Coignet, 1843, Metropolitan Museum of Art.