THE SONIC BOOMER
I made a quick trip up to Wisconsin to see my parents for a few days. With frequent lockdowns at dad’s care center (everybody’s safe so far!), planning a trip like this is like darting through raindrops.
But I managed to squeak in Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday last week.
I don’t know why I worry about these two. In the first place, mom should get a Clara Barton award for the work she does taking care of dad in absentia (she’s in another building). Every few weeks, she brings him new clothes (which inevitably disappear into the vast churn of the laundry, never to be seen again — unless she spies them in the elevator, on another guy). If he leaves the building to sit outside with her, she comes prepared with sweaters, jackets and caps just in case he isn’t dressed warmly enough. She brings him reading material constantly — newspapers, magazines and books so carefully chosen to suit his tastes that he can’t help himself. He immediately begins reading while she sits there, more or less ignored, but at least unburdened of the poundage. And, the coup de grace, the crowning glory of her visits — occasionally, if all his vital signs are up to snuff, she will pull a cold beer out of her purse for him. He tries to be polite about this, but like a dog that knows where the treats are kept, can’t avoid taking frequent, hopeful glances at her purse to see if it’s bulging, until she finally hands over the coveted prize.
Because the seas parted, I was able to pick up both mom and dad, pack his auxiliary (lightweight) wheelchair into the car, and take them away to see things like, you know, children. Squirrels. Interesting hub-bub that the rest of us take for granted. If a toddler waves at us, the day has been an unmitigated success.
We didn’t get out of the car much this trip, but because I am a drive-through expert, we were eating constantly. Mom and dad would get up early and eat breakfast with their friends. At 10 a.m. or so, I’d arrive, and we’d pack everybody into the car. At 11:30 a.m., we’d drive through somewhere for lunch. We’d sit near a pretty park and eat. Dad would gobble his lunch, as well as anything anyone else didn’t want to finish. Sometimes we’d have a chilled beer for him. If a poor appetite is a sign of impending doom in oldsters, dad is going to live forever.
After lunch, I’d take dad back to his place for a nap, and mom and I would play Scrabble. When I finally beat her, we’d put the board away. At 5:30 p.m., we’d head back to get dad for dinner. No one was hungry except him, but we were thirsty for the ambiance and conversation. Once, he got a martini. OMG!
The next day, we’d repeat this schedule.
The final day, I had to leave early, so we asked dad (who had just finished breakfast) if he wanted to sit outside and talk or drive through McDonald’s. McDonald’s, of course. He wanted coffee. And a cinnamon roll. And half of mom’s cinnamon roll. And a beer, which we did not have for him at 10:30 a.m. It was OK. Mom said he’d had enough, and she’s the boss.
When I left for home, I handed him a bag of pistachios and a can of mixed nuts. He waved goodbye with his mouth full.
In short, dad is fine and getting fat.
Mom is skinny and exhausted.