Rather than taper off, the avalanche of bad news has picked up speed. My father in particular has been dealt setback after serious setback. Doctors earn their money the hard way as the bearers of all the news you don’t want to hear. Few would argue the most important med school class for up-and-coming MDs and DOs may be “Bedside Manner 101”.
The slow-mo arrival of inevitability cannot be stopped or derailed. That sledgehammer is coming and each of us knows it. We feel its warm breath over our shoulder. The time for denial is over. This is all surreal in many ways; the planning for what lies ahead, packing of the old homestead, the quiet conversations tinted by fate, the upheaval and other realisms that must be handled now.
This past Monday’s letter to Ellen and Reid relayed as much information as matter-of-factly as possible. But it was by no means or in any way adequate. No page can do that justice. Other details were passed along through more conventional means. The kids are eager to know how their grandparents fare in no uncertain terms and they are old enough to digest the details. Perhaps in this ado they see a preview of what lies down the road for them and me when our own avalanche of events gains a head of steam. None of which is lost on me.
On my parent’s part, they literally demand to spend as much time together as they have left. “How”s your mother?” asks my dad. “Where’s Ralph?” pleads my mother. They are separated now in different institutions to accommodate their different needs. In strict health terms, that is the prudent move. But as I tell my brother, who has persistently advocated such care, they have earned the right to be obstinate. I take the other tact; let them live out their days holding hands.
My parents have a new address. Their third in less than two weeks. Here is today’s letter to them.
May 28, 2010
Mom and Dad: To say these past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for both of you is an understatement. When it rains, it pours. The four of us will have to get our hands around it as best we can.
Ellen and Reid are up to speed on things, and both have remarked how glad they were to see you just a month ago. Dad, I’ve hesitated to give them your room phone lest they ring it off the wall. Both of them feel you’re doing the right thing.
All things considered the people out at ___________ have been pretty good. They seem to be genuinely concerned about the two of you, and have tried to find the best living situation that will keep the two of you together. That’s as it should be. I hope by the time you get this, dad, you’ll be out of there and back at _________ and on the mend. How the heck did this blockage thing escape lots of sets of eyes? But at least they caught it in time and got it removed. Thank God none of this happened while you were still in the house. That would have been total chaos for everyone.
A week from today I’ll be back there to tend to the house. To be honest about it, this is the right move at the right time. I’m not completely sold on how the real estate agent is approaching things – I don’t have a ton of faith in them – because their approach is always fairly formulaic; i.e. paint everything neutral and put in new carpet. Please. The beauty of that house is it is well built and well maintained, in a great neighborhood on a large, wooded lot and it is close to downtown to cut down on someone’s commute. The agent should sell to the strength rather than make excuses. I’ll have my hands full trying to corral your other son who is giving more orders than an Army general. But he’s doing the right thing at a tough time.
I’m working from home today since they have shut down much of the Uptown area for something they call Speed Street. NASCAR is in town and they shut off the main drag in our downtown for food tents, music and stuff like that. My parking lot has become a temporary concert venue. I’d rather be in the office than lazing around here in a tee shirt and shorts. I don’t like that very much. The Big Race is Saturday night but I won’t be there. Not much planned for the long weekend beyond golf and riding my bike a little bit.
All of this is hard to see from afar. I feel guilty in not being there and for foisting most of the work on my brother. I guess that’s just the lay of the land. But in a week I’ll be at your bedside trying to help. I love you guys very much, and if that helps with your recoveries, so be it. See you very soon.