The Nose called.
“Talk to Dad- here he is.”
He`d been sick.
“Hey Dad- I`ll be there on the 23rd. Just dropping our stuff in Montreal first.”
His voice had changed since he`d gotten sick- a sickness of unknown origin. Maybe when men get old their voices change again.
“I don`t know why you girls are so worked up. I`ll be here. Take care of your family.”
That`s all I needed to hear. He let me off the hook. The Clampitts were pulling up the stakes. The movers were scheduled to arrive in two weeks. The Offspring had exams soon. The 23rd was only a month away. He didn`t sound that sick. Spouse had gone ahead to Montreal 6 months ago. Dad needed to wait until after the move to get really sick.
But the Nose didn`t sound right. I know her as my sister, but the woman on the phone sounded like her day job- a physician. Someone who deals with very ill people every day- the emergency room, the critical care unit- places where patients can`t talk. Guarded, efficient, ensuring I said hello.
I called back.
“How sick is he? Like not going to make it until I get there?”
“I don`t know. Maybe not.”
A 14 hour flight, no one to look after the kids, a giant earthquake- all these obstacles jumped to the forefront. And so did all the angels in my life who flew in to take over at a moment`s notice. The Social Chairman, the Philipina. Women who quietly came in and took over.
It took 24 hours to get on a plane even though I booked it immediately as soon as I got off the phone.
The Offspring were threatened. “Be good or suffer greatly when I return.”
Then bribed. “Be good and I`ll reward you when I return.”
Then guilted. “Be good or I will never trust you again.”
Next came the lists. They both stood silently. Nodding. Not real sure how to manage this strange woman formerly known as their mother.
I couldn`t quite get out the door. So instead I burst in to tears.
Offspring #1 came over, putting his arms around me like a father.
“Mom- go- it will be ok. It`s all going to be ok. Don`t worry. Just go be with Grandpa.” My son was growing up. He walked me to the door. Opened it. Shut it. Locked it.
Facing 14 hours on the air plane then another hour in the rental car, I made myself comfortable with 2 NyQuil and ear plugs. The plane was dark. Having done this a few times, there`s a certain Zen to it once you get the hang of it.
“Hello Love”. My dad said in my ear. His usual greeting. Happy. Smiling. His warm breath blowing my hair. I jolted awake. The plane was dark. Everyone was asleep.
I knew he was gone. He`d passed by to say goodbye since I hadn`t made it in time.
So I wasn`t surprised when my sisters were unexpectedly at the airport ready to give me the bad news.
He had already told me good-bye.
So folks. That`s where I`ve been this summer. Grieving, moving, and in general not feeling very funny. However, looking back, there is humor in it all and I will start to share what has been amusing in the next week or so. A few close outs on Japan and then I will officially close out that chapter and open the new one on Canada. Chit chat soon!