Wednesday, November 7, 2007

comments, meaningful

It's been a while, I know that. The last time we were together, we were eating dinner at your favorite restaurant.

It's been a while, I know that. The last time we were together, you were laying in bed and I was reading headlines from the paper to you.

It's been a while, I know that. The last time we were together, you were sitting in your wheelchair, holding Mark on your lap.

You ordered lamb chops. I remember thinking that they always seemed so difficult to consume, but you cut through them like a surgeon.

OJ Simpson articles covered the front page. Above us, the television silently replayed highlights of 'the chase'. You turned your head and I'm certain you looked at my hands. They were holding the paper, but you must've noticed that they were shaking.

Mark reached up and tried to grab your glasses off your face. You leaned back to the left and smiled. Mark immediately determined that you were playing a game with him. At one point, you called him Ken.

We never really spent time together, just the two of us. I remember sitting across from you and feeling like I barely knew you. What were we talking about? What did we ever talk about? Probably golf.

I stopped reading the headlines for a moment and I looked up and saw my father and his sister standing in the hallway, talking to one another. What could they really be talking about? They hugged one another and then they walked in to see us. I'm sure they knew we both needed them.

Even sitting on your lap, Mark could see the room with the bunny rabbits. He leaned forward. He wanted to stand and walk on his own accord over to Snickers and Bubbles. You reached out to pull him back to your lap, but he was too strong, too determined. And he was just over a year old.

I told you the story about Father's Day, 1991. The father-son tournament at Philmont Country Club. Dad had been diagnosed with cancer. He wanted you to still play. He offered me up as his replacement. You knew I was a horrible golfer.

Your two children, my father and his sister, flanked me. You had turned your head away from us. It looked like you were fixating on the ceiling. I asked them why your eyes were yellow; yellow like those you would see on a cat.

Mark was babbling to the bunnies. You were looking at him like you would never see him again. He looked at you. "I love you, Ken." I reminded you that Ken was my name and his name was Mark. "Who's Mark?" I should have listened to my mother and not corrected you.

On the 15th, I hit a good drive. You were sitting in the golf cart, waiting. I admired the flight of the ball and turned to you for a much-anticipated compliment. "Even a blind chicken gets some corn." That's the last thing I remember you ever saying to me. A heart attack two weeks later took all of us by surprise. Do you know that I use that quote all the time? It became the central element to my graduation speech I gave some years later. Everyone laughed. Later that night, I cried.

The morphine was doing its job. It not only eased the pain, it eliminated it. Turns out, you can't beat pancreatic cancer, but you can mute the pain of inevitable death. It was my turn to leave the room. A few hours later, my father told me that you had finally succumbed. My hands never stopped shaking that day. I know you knew.

Mark was due for a nap. How odd to think that I left for that reason. I placed Mark back on your lap and you went to hug him. I hope you know that he cried because he was tired, not because he was scared. We left. And you left two days later. I took Mark back to see the bunnies sometime after. "Mom-mom?" he asked when we arrived. You would've been so thrilled.

Today my wife and I learned that we are going to have identical twins. We spent the entire afternoon calling anyone and everyone we knew.

Sometimes, having one really big thing to share makes you realize that there are so many things you've neglected to share.

It's been a while, I know that.

I have so much to share.

I wish the three of you were here to listen.


damian said...

So much for keeping your network small.


. said...

Congrats! My mom had brain cancer. My dad lived in Oreland. Small world.

Taylor said...

That was a deep post on a deep subject. That's great news! Blessings.

Kristin Hokanson said...

Yes Ken, deep and beautifully written.

Reading your stories explained why I like you so much...both your writing & you in person. Speaks volumes for those online friendships that folks make.

The stories touched me on many levels...

In my story it was my dad that had the pancreatic cancer...the cancer helped me to come to some closure with our relationship (and my need for his approval) but luckily for him he didn't suffer through the pain of cancer. An embolism took him quickly--our "last supper" was pork chops.

Dad never knew my kids...

I remember stories of Grandma & Austin (my son)... I was never so patient with her not remembering either.

It has been a while...
Thanks for the beautiful stories and making me slow down and take time to think.

Your twins are already so lucky.

Taylor said...

@ken are they girl twins or boy twins?

@kristin hokanson I have a good relationship with my father, but still struggle w/ the need for his approval. When I took my GRE I had to force myself not to call him and tell him my score. Silly because it wasn't all *that* anyway.... but I just wanted him to be proud of me. Does everyone struggle with this?

Farfisa said...

Wow. Oh wow! Congratulations, as I read teary-eyed. And, at Taylor, I still call my parents, sometimes over my own successes, but more and more often over those of my kids.

I have three living grandparents, in various stages of wackiness. I wonder what my children will remember of them?