The situation with my mother—like the weather in St.
Louis—changes from moment by moment.
When I called the hospital yesterday morning, my brother
had already left for New York. He has an appointment today to review
my mother's case with his own heart surgeons.
My sister, who was just finishing chemo earlier this week, finally
had clearance from her oncologist that it was OK for her to go visit
my mother in the hospital. Hospitals, as you may well know, are
not a good place for sick people. They are crawling with germs.
Or is it that germs are crawling in hospitals?
Angie, the border collie and I watched E.R. when it came on West
Coast time last night, so now she and I are now authorities on
hospitals and germs.
Television fantasy life aside, we will know more today about what needs
The doctors at Rush are adamant that my mother needs a bypass. But
as I have said, that means a lot of risk.
I am stunned and thrilled at how quickly my family is making decisions
and how, after years of estrangement and fracture, we seem
to be working as a team .
When I spoke to my sister this morning, she said that my parents
have finally agreed that they are not in a good position to take care
of themselves at this point in their lives. My father is missing
too many cues, things can change too quickly. My sister,
to whom much of their care has unfairly fallen over recent years,
can no longer assume this responsibility. And she is the only
one who lives in the same city as they do.
Until this morning's decision.
When I called at nine o' clock this morning, she told me that they
have decided to sell their apartment in Chicago, close their practices
and move to New York!
They plan to get their own place near my brother.
Ian has begged them to move to New York for several years now. He even
retrofitted an apartment for them on the bottom floor of his town house
for them to live. A sweet place that is too small and has stairs
they cannot safely negotiate.
Sweet or not, they have never wanted to do that. They value their
friends and cultural life in Chicago. My father loves his work
as a psychologist.
Still, after all these years.
Still, at the age of 87.
Their independence is very important to them. So they have not
wanted to move.
And most important, when Laurel got sick last year, they made it clear
that they would not go anywhere. Not even for
a day or two for a vacation.
As my sister went through various stages coping with her illness, there
were weeks when she didn't want to see them. She, too, needed
her independence and to know that some of her strongest
support could come from outside the family. Nevertheless, my
mother was firm that she would not leave town in case Laurel changed
her mind and needed them.
Well, now Laurel has one more month of chemo. Hosanna! Hopefully,
that will be the end of this dreaded cancer for all time. I hope.
I pray. I try to believe.
And now, it is very clear that life as we all knew it has
changed and that differentl arrangements need to be made.
My mother was too weak to talk on the phone when I
called so I talked with my father.
He said, "Is this the poet?
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Is this the playwright?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Is this the impresario?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Is this the pain in the ass?"
And I laughed and reluctantly said, "Yes."
And he said, "Will you come visit a lot?"
And I said, "Yes."
So that is where we are.
Regardless of whether or not my mother goes through with the
surgery, they are going to move. My sister and I will have our
hands full, as well as other body parts. Helping them to sell
their place in Chicago. Find another one in New York. Pack and
move everything. Get them settled.
And throw them the biggest good bye party our imaginations can
Friday, Jan 20, 2006