Posts tagged ‘son’

2010/05/01

Talking to Dad

by mdjb

— Dad, It’s me, Peter.

Why’d you double lock the door?

Never mind,

— I’ve got my key.

— Dad? Susan’s going to be a little late today. She called me and told me. So I came over to see if you need anything. Dad?

Oh, still in bed.

— Listen, I’ll make some tea and we can sit and talk for a while. Don’t try to get up. I’ll help you after I get the water on.

Kitchen’s spotless. I guess Susan is earning her money. She doesn’t really have to do all this, what with taking care of his other needs.

— I spoke to Aunt Anne yesterday. She sends her regards. I told her you were doing all right.

Now, where’re the teabags? Don’t seem to be any here in the fridge. Oh, there behind his insulin. God, looks like he’s got enough to last a couple months.

–Dad, are you taking your insulin everyday? I’m going to ask Susan when she gets here, ’cause I know you’ll just tell me what I want to hear.

It’s so warm in here. Okay, let it steep three minutes. A little bit of milk. I bet he misses his sugar. He doesn’t have to know I take a spoonful, but I bet he hears me rattling the sugar bowl.

Okay, a couple of these plain biscuits and we’re all set.

— Here we go, Dad, a nice cup of tea and some biscuits. Susan’ll be here in an hour or so. You don’t have to use the toilet or anything, do you?

— It’s so dark in here and it’s a beautiful day outside. Let me put this down over here and I’ll open the blinds a bit.

There, that’s better.

— I have a lot of things to tell you Dad, so I’m glad we have this time together before Susan gets here. I guess with her here twelve hours a day, you sometimes don’t get enough time to think. She keeps you busy, right?

— We’re going to miss her when she goes for her RN license, but the agency will send over someone just as efficient. I hope it’s another woman and she’s as nice as Susan. I’ll specify that’s what we want.

— Don’t try to drink that tea just yet. It’s too hot. Have a biscuit.

— What’d you do, knock your pill bottle over? Here, let me get that.

Almost empty. So low on the pills and so much insulin left. Going to have to straighten this out with Susan.

— Aunt Anne gave me a letter from Uncle Jack. Let me get it out of my case and I’ll read it to you.

Let me see. Here. This is it.

— Aunt Anne said Uncle Jack was going to send it to you, but since I was coming over, she wanted me to bring it so I could read it to you instead of Susan, well, she said instead of the home care attendant. Here’s what it says.

— Dear Pete. I’m sorry for my part in the events that have caused us not to be close for the last fifteen years. I would like more than anything to let bygones be and come over and see you. We are brothers after all. It’s just, I need to know you forgive me for being a fool, but I don’t want to give you further cause to think me foolish by coming to visit without your invite. I’m truly sorry we haven’t spoken to each other in so many years. We’ve lost a lot of time, but don’t let’s lose it all. What do you say? Jack.

— How about that Dad? It took him long enough, didn’t it? You know Aunt Anne has been after him for so long to make amends. She misses you. And Mom. I miss Mom too, Dad.

— Here, I’m going to leave this on your night table and you speak to Uncle Jack when you’re ready.

— That tea is all right now. It’s cooled a bit.

— Remember how Mom used to make it with the loose tea. She would never have teabags in the house. We always had to wait three minutes, no more, no less. It should be a little darker than amber before you put the milk in, she always said.

Still have her things on the dresser. Her brush and combs. Never let Susan move them, only dust them. Her wedding band still on your little finger. I know a couple of her housedresses are hanging in the corner closet.

— Oh, I know you took care of all the financial arrangements, but remember at first I didn’t know whether to call an ambulance or the police. We’re both a bit self-centered. We’re lucky to have Aunt Anne. She took care of all those early details. You know, I thought at the time, I really couldn’t depend on you, but you’ve been like a rock since then. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost you both together. I don’t know why I’m bringing all this up. It’s just we’ve never discussed it and it bothers me a little we’ve never been able to communicate our grief to each other.

Or our happiness, for that matter.

— So many times I wanted you to be there and you couldn’t be.

I wanted you to be there for my graduation from grammar school. For my graduation from high school. For…

— It’s all right, I’m working now. I’ve got a good job. I’m up for a raise in a couple weeks.

— Dad, I still think about Mom all the time. Sometimes, I get like a zombie where I’m blindly reliving those days after her funeral. I wish you and I had been closer. I don’t remember too much of those days, but when I think about them, I imagine I handled everything just the way you would’ve wanted me to.

— I did, right?

— Sometimes, I wake from a dream and it feels so real. In the dream, Mom says, Everything was fine, Peter. You did me proud.

I know she really wanted you there. I was just the chip. The chip off your old block.

— Did you hear about Mr. Abbott and his wife? They’ve made up with each other. He still calls me every so often and asks how you are. I thank him every time for being there and calling the medics.

I haven’t spoken to him in months. Not since before their divorce. But you were lucky to have him for a neighbor.

— After the diabetes, who could have foreseen the renal failure? The day I called and there was no answer and then Mr. Abbott called and said you were taken to the hospital, all the way over in Staten Island, Dad, I never understood why they took you all the way over there.

Supposed to be the best dialysis set-up in the city, but I think it was because we didn’t have the money. Leave it to Mom to take care of things. You were even luckier to have her for a wife. Or to be her widower. I thought for a while I hated you. Hated you’re being my father. But Mom wouldn’t let me stay angry.

— I know I don’t say it often enough, but I love you, Dad.

You don’t have to say anything.

— Let me bring these teacups out to the kitchen.

And I’ll put this away. You won’t need this letter. I think it’s the one I got from the magazine.

Why was Uncle Jack so angry? With you? He was always nice to Mom.

I’m sorry about the letter, but I was sure that’s what he would have wanted to say. He just didn’t get around to it.

— Susan should be here shortly. I’m going to have some things to ask her, let me tell you.

Like why she isn’t here already.

Can’t complain really, though, she’s been very good about so many things. What would I do without her? How could I work?

Mom would have been jealous of the way Susan takes care of you.

Mom would have said, Get your young girlfriend to do it.

Get her to clean up after you.

Why have Peter come all the way in from the city, when your insurance covers a home care attendant. Got a job to maintain.

There are reasons for everything, but why’d you lock the door.

Mom was the planner.

Mom would have said, Mom would have said, You did me proud, Peter.

Dad, don’t leave. Please. Everything is fine. Mom would have said…


Scratch. Scratching. Tapping. Someone knocking.

Must have dozed off.

— Well, Dad, that sounds like Susan. I’d better go let her in.

— Good-bye, Dad.


“Susan, I’m so glad you’re here. I have to ask for your help with Dad.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Donsie, that’s what I’m…Mr. Donsie, what is it? Oh, no, Mr. Donsie, don’t tell me…”

“I, don’t…”

“No.”

“Yes, I’m afraid he’s passed away.”

“Oh Mr. Donsie. Peter, I’m so sorry.”

“It must have happened sometime this morning. I think he was expecting it. He double locked the door after you left him last night. He’s still warm. Oh, Susan, my dad’s gone, and I miss him already.”

“Don’t. Don’t be upset Peter. Please, for him. It’s been so hard for him. He’s at peace now. He’s with your mum.”

“I…Will you help me? I don’t know what to do.”