I guess it was about 6 years ago that my sister Heidi texted me a message similar to this.
You better hurry down to LA the parental unit is on it's last legs.
You might want to say sianara and be on your merry way, since you know... since they are not leaving you anything except maybe some old shoe trees. Oh and that Las Vegas snow globe you wanted.
I had talked to the parental unit just moments before. Both of my parents have husky voices, so when the timber of my dad's voice sounded crypt like and my mom sounded like Foghorn Leghorn I figured their voices were just horser from yelling at each more than usual. Still the shoe trees were worth taking a trip for. Psycho Boy and I jumped in the car and drove 8 hours to the death condo.
We arrived drawn and haggard. Ding dong ding dong. I banged on the door with a shoe tree I clipped on an earlier visit and rang the door bell again. Ding dong. No answer. When I was about to give up and call the coroner, I heard a man yell, "Spin the wheel!" What the hell was Pat Sajak doing in my dead parents living room? I crawled on to their balcony and peaked through the venetian blinds, and there at the dining room table watching a deafening and gargantuan flat screen were two very alive parents eating spaghetti, drinking wine and solving TV hangman.
Since I am fairly thin, I slid through their venetian blinds.
Me: Doesn't anybody answer their doorbell anymore?
Mom and Dad: We knew it was you. Ha ha ha. Now that you are here, we might as well talk about those shoe trees.
Me: No. I am too vulnerable and I have to let Larry in.
Mom and Dad: Hi Larry! While you are here, can you go to T.J.'s for us? Here's the list.
We did not look at the list until we got to T.J.'s. It included 3 Two Buck Chucks and 3 bags of ginger chews, and two salads. We looked all over the meat cold case for the offending chuck meat. A Hawaiian shirted employee pointed us towards the cheap wine section. I guess, alcohol either kills you or preserves you.
So when Heidi texted me about my dad this time, I wasn't sure what to think. My mom confirmed that my elderly dad was doing very poorly and that hospice was in and he was taking morphine for pain. This time they knew we were coming and were happy we came. My dad wasn't that responsive at first, except when I asked if he was comfortable, and he answered, "I make a living." He also sang with Heidi and me several choruses of "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" and "Button Up Your Overcoat." Always the showman, my dad ended the song with," I really mean it!" My mom is still his main caregiver/entertainer so when I heard her bustling about I crept into my dad's room. My dad sat up, looked down at his hospital bed and exclaimed, "Oyvay", closed his eyes and opened them and added "Gefalt, and Patooey!" The three of us laughed and joked for what seemed like an hour, until my dad faded back to sleep.
Crazy Boy and I left two days later. I was exhausted and hungry the entire trip home. I am not normally a car sleeper, but I do like to nosh on road trips. I slept on and off for half the trip. While dazed and confused we bought these T.J. foods for the way home. Both are equally delicious and comforting.
Although there are times I miss my younger parents, a younger sibling, husband and of course a youthful me, I am grateful this Thanksgiving for all of them being around for as long as they have. Through all the trials and tribulations that have come with a long life, I am even more grateful that my family has maintained the ability to laugh at life's absurdities.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! And much love!
What are you most grateful for?