Sunday, August 31, 2008

at work not at work

There is a new family on my horizon, and they are bringing Dad to stay with me. They are bringing him bit by bit, as though they can't bear to bring the whole man. And it isn't that they don't trust me, I think they do, but if his wife actually left him overnight, it would mean it was true, that life as she knew it is over, that she is alone, single in a giant house that he built. Heck, he built the road that runs in front of the house. He was a great man. He still is by my standards. Sailed to New Zealand when he was seventy. I took his big hands in mine, squatted down in front of him, and said, "Its gonna be okay." He looked right at me and said, "Its gotta be." And we were off.

His wife doesn't know what to do. She asks me for advice then changes the subject. She's good at that. But I don't know what to say to a woman who doesn't know how to be alone. I know how. I'm good at it. Its living with other people that trips me up. Her daughters try to convince her to start having fun, to go shopping, to the casino, kick up her heels for a change. But she tells me she knows she can't run from it forever, that slot machine pulls will only stay the inevitable for so long-- the inevitable fact that her husband is gone, and yet not gone. That he, the subject of better or worse, is worse even than that. That she cannot fulfill her end of the bargain. That's how she sees it. There should be a disclaimer in the wedding vows: unless s/he gets Alzheimer's.

I know we are a country of wimps. But this guy is six foot five, weights 280, and she is tiny. For her to have cared for him at home this long exceeds any vows I've ever made.

So I am thinking of them today, and I should be thinking of non-work things, but it is all too real sometimes, and when she wanted to take him home again, just once more to pretend this isn't all happening, that her husband of 63 years hasn't been abandoned to the care of strangers has he? I just nodded, and told her I understood. But truthfully, I cannot imagine leaving Kurt and walking away from him even if I knew beyond doubt that he wouldn't even know I was gone. I'd know.

2 comments:

asha said...

Once again. These pieces need to be collected in a slim volume, or a big fat book of life tome, something, anything more accessible than the roll-a-dex blog rotate off the front page and away forever buried in cyberspace diary format where they currently reside, grabable for when the going gets rough, when you don't know what you're looking for so you count on it finding you and saving you from slipping over the edge and into the void of incomprehensible circumstance.

L. said...

my vote is the same, this piece sent chills up my arms and daggered my heart, it is put so exquisitely. it needs bound.