On a very special Sunday edition of JackSh*t, I ventured to the Hebrew Home Hotel around noon because my father had a rough day yesterday and thought I’d check on him, for on Saturday, he was disoriented, lethargic, not hungry. (Yeah, that last one was troubling.)
“How you doing, Dad?” I asked, walking in.
“Fine, fine,” he says from the sofa. “You know, I think I’m getting old.”
“Yeah, but you’re in a good shape.”
“Yeah. You can’t hear, can’t see, and can’t remember shit, but otherwise, you’re healthy.”
“There’s nothing left,” he says, laughing.
“Yeah, I could go for some lunch. How the hell did I get to be 95? Ach, I give up.”
The day is already better. After helping him to the table, I went into the kitchen and rolled up to two slices of turkey (no cheese), scooped up some potato salad, some potato chips, and Stauffer's Chocolate Animal Bears, prepared some coffee with four Sweet n Lows and Half and Half, and placed it all in front of him.
“So much? Why’d you make this much?”
“Eat what you want. It’s what you usually like.”
“No, that’s not the point. Who the hell can eat all this?”
“Don’t eat it all then. I won’t be hurt, believe me.”
“So much. Why’d you make so much?”
“Stop thanking me so much. It’s embarrassing.”
“No, no, I appreciate it, but it’s too much,” he says, already about done with the potato salad. He takes a sip of his coffee. “You make good coffee, though, I’ll give you that.”
“Thanks. But really — just eat what you want.”
“So, tell me,” he says, cutting the turkey slices in sections, “you live with the cleaning lady, right?”
“The girl. She’s the cleaning lady, right?” he asks, picking up and eating the chips.
“Well, Melissa, yeah, she cleans houses but she’s not the cleaning lady.”
“I meant, you know, she cleans.”
“Does she clean the Home here?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“She doesn’t want to. I don’t know why not.”
“It’s good that she cleans, contributes to the household.”
“I didn’t say she cleaned our house.”
At this point, with him still eating, I decide to make a rudimentary family tree on the back of a piece of mail. He sees the name of his brother, Hy.
“Hy, he was my bother. He was married to Shirley?” he asks, just about finished with the turkey.
“What happened to her?”
“But she was from England.”
“She still died.”
He then sees his immediate family breakdown.
“Ok, so, Florence is what relation to you?”
“She’s my mother. Your wife . . . my mother.”
“Oh, I thought —”
“My mother, Dad.”
“I thought . . . . Wait, you’re my blood son? I thought you were someone else’s and they gave you to me to raise. You know I can’t finish this,” he says, pushing the plate away. There are only a few chocolate bears left on the plate.