Friday, September 7, 2007

Gloria Steinham's glasses

I am looking like Gloria Steinham. The hair is long and various shades of blonde and gray. I am constantly brushing it out of my aging face. My mother and my sister were rolling their eyes at it when they thought I wasn't watching. And my appalling tattoo. Same old, same old. Even when my sister is trying to be civil, she is hurtful.

There are worse people to look like than Gloria, even as she aged. I always admired her look, if not her agenda. She was obviously educated. Attractive, smart, expensively dressed. I am wearing her glasses, heavy framed, mine are blue. I don't dress like myself anymore. They don't make my fashions in extra large.

I threw my extra large tie-dyed tank dress in my bag and took myself to 40 Main Street for consolation tonight. (I know, hope springs eternal - I was lonely and sad and trying to divert my attention from the tears that were lurking.) I made a plan, which was useless, to keep myself busy this weekend, to be busy and happy and not sit around here with the animals, reading and playing that stupid word game and trying not to think about the elephant.

Yesterday was my father's birthday. His 89th. On the recommendation of his doctor and the nursing home staff, we have called hospice for him. It appears that he cannot swallow. His mouth was leaking baby food from the lunch they tried to feed him. The baby food. Just writing those words does not reflect the horror it was to watch. This is my dad, my dad.

They asked how we felt about a feeding tube and we both said no, Lauren Meacham and I. They don't know how long it will take him to die. They assure us it will not be painful. Starving isn't painful, I guess. Hospice will watch out for him and keep him comfortable. Whatever that means. I want it to be over. Let him have a heart attack and go. DNR. Don't make us all suffer through a prolonged dying, wondering what is happening inside him, what, if anything he is thinking and feeling. Where is my father anyway? He has been gone for so long.

We don't know if he can hear us. We talk to the empty air and the air doesn't move. I rub his papery hand and he wipes at the spot as if his hand got dirty. Does he know I touched him? Does he want me to? Doesn't he like it? Somewhere in his empty head does he know it's me? Or, after 60 years, have I become nothing?

What do we tell my mother when my father dies? He talks so much to her, she tells us, that she can't shut him up. He is her second skin. For all the life we've known, she has never been without him. If he is not there, will she know that he is gone? Will she say where is Arthur and we will say Arthur died. She will say oh, no, he didn't, stop kidding me. Really? You're full of it, she will say, and then again she will say, where is Arthur and we will tell her again Arthur is dead and then again and then again, and she will never believe us and keep asking and asking and we will have to say that Arthur is dead five million times until she dies, still asking.

I just got up to get another soda and I locked the door. Both doors. I have lived in their house for three years now and I have never locked the door. Arthur will not be home to chase the foxes fromt the bathtub.

Missing my dad again

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