Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ain't No Secret About It

My sisters have gone to pick up Dad's and Darla's prescriptions. I'm making crepes for regular and seafood manicotti. It's quiet in the house but outside: rifle fire. Apparently, it's hunting season of some kind and I'm pissed. We've had a tough day, and the sound of hunters trying to kill defenseless creatures just doesn't fucking cut it.

Last night, Daddy took half an Ambien for sleep but he didn't sleep. Before he got sick, he'd had a disastrous Ambien episode, so this is kind of an all-bets-are-off situation. This morning, he was paranoid, confused and felt bad. He told Darla he didn't think it would be long now. Then, Todd, his wife Bette and their children left for Los Angeles, where Todd will work a shift in the bar he manages, then turn around and come back Monday. Dara has to go back to school Monday. Last night, I had the kind of meltdown your family forgives under normal circumstances after years of "I'm sorry - Jeez!" but this morning, nobody said a word because the next thing that happened was Darla cried for her dying husband with every fiber of her being, which put my little tantrum into perspective. I decided to lay off the red wine for a while.

The fear like I'm standing on an electified surface has returned. Daria has it too. Despite all this, and perhaps because of it, we get this:

Darla stepped into the kitchen, snapped her fingers and shouted, "Clean sheets." Daria and I threw whatever we were holding on the floor and ran in opposite directions. I sprinted to the dryer, then to the upstairs linen closet, where I'd put away the last set of sheets we'd stripped off Dad's bed. I pulled out everything we'd taken off his bed, threw it at Daria and sprinted back down the stairs two and three at a time. Daddy was sitting up in bed with his feet on the floor, feeling very weak and uncomfortable from sweating. We stripped this bed and tucked in clean sheets around him, then he stood for a few seconds as we adjusted the mattress and made everything even and crisp. This operation took less than five minutes, total. Daddy lay back down. We covered him with soft blankets and watched to see how he felt. After a minute, he was comfortable again and smiling gently.

Darla: That was amazing!
Tata: We've been calling ourselves your pit crew.
Daria: Not for nothing but the hospice lady said, "I've never seen anything like that! I've never seen a bed changed that fast!"
Darla: At first, I worried about power tools flying and oil everywhere, but it's great!
Tata: Do you think we're ready for NASCAR?
Dad: You missed it! Your sisters rotated my tires.
Dara: That's okay, I've seen it twice before.
Daria: Notice how she says she's seen it, not that she's done it?

Hours later, deer huddle in the woods out back. My sisters and I huddled around the kitchen table and ate a startlingly non-nutritious dinner of small foods one can only eat standing up. Darla and Dad awoke from much-needed naps to the puzzling sound of repeated thumping. Darla, who is Canadian and never even saw a gun until she came here, sticks her head out of the sickroom and asks, "What's that thud-thud-thud-ing?"

Us: Gunfire.
Darla: What?
Us: Gunfire.
Darla: It's gunfire, Dominic.
Daddy: Shit!

So when he ate a little soup, we were very happy.


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