Stubborn Through This Season

Well, my mother’s mania continues. Last week, she accused me of stealing family photos.

Mom: Kelly, I think you may have accidentally taken the pictures of my children home with you.

Me: No Mom, I didn’t bring any pictures home with me.

Mom: Well, I can’t find them. I’ve had them since 1965, and I’d like them back. Are you sure you don’t have them?

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t have them.

Mom: Yes, you are sorry. Very sorry. Click.

Now, she won’t answer when I call. I’m not taking it personally, but it does feel a bit odd to leave soliloquies on her answering machine. “Happy Thanksgiving” and the like.

rancho-san-j-barn

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Today a ringing phone woke me up with Dr. H, my father’s urologist, on the other end. My dad has been dealing with bladder cancer for about a year-and-a-half. They basically “took care of it” via surgery to remove a tumor and BCG therapy.

I call my father “Pop”—a compromise between ‘Papa’ (what he wanted) and ‘Dad’ (what I wanted). A few weeks ago I say, “Pop, it’s time for you to get your bladder checked out.”

Pop: What do you mean? They said I’m cancer-free.

Me: The doctor said you have to get checked out every few months to make sure you’re still okay.

Pop: I don’t remember him saying that to me.*

Me: Call Doctor H and make an appointment to get checked.

rancho-san-j-window

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

The upshot is that my dad went into the hospital yesterday. Dr. H poked around in his bladder and removed part of his prostate because it was blocking the flow of urine. Originally scheduled to go home after the procedure, my dad had to spend last night at the hospital which he loathes and detests. In fact, the doctor called to tell me to get him to an internist ASAP because his blood pressure is dangerously high. I’m sure that some of that is related to his present location.

My father is great insisting he’s perfectly healthy in the face of evidence to the contrary. Like the time he got drunk at DanTana’s and was hit by a car (we surmised—he doesn’t quite remember this) and ended up in Cedars-Sinai. I swear, his body was one giant purple bruise but after one night he checked himself out of the hospital despite the doctor’s recommendation to stay.

My dad had lined up a friend to pick him up yesterday, but he didn’t have a Plan B if they kept him overnight. Fortunately, I’m able to go collect him from St. Joseph’s and take him to his apartment in Hollywood.

*My dad freely admits that he is forgetful. It surprises me that he is forthright about it and not particularly defensive.

rancho-san-j-lone-tree

Rancho San Julian, Buellton, CA

Black Rook in Rainy Weather

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain.
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, not seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall,
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of the kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then —
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor,
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical,
Yet politic; ignorant

Of whatever angel may choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.

-Sylvia Plath

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7 Responses to “Stubborn Through This Season”

  1. altadenahiker Says:

    The photos are a nice respite. Buellton is lovely, though I skip the peasoup.

  2. Sister Wolf Says:

    Stay strong. My dad loved Dan Tana’s, too. xoxo

  3. Petrea Says:

    When I think how tough this must be for you, I think how tough it is for them, too. No wonder denial is so powerful. Think what it is they’re denying.

  4. The case of the Missed Havisham « Miss Havisham’s Tea Party Says:

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  5. Kim Perez Says:

    Oh wow, hang in there. That sounds trite, I know. I’m thinking about you.

  6. Mocha Says:

    Oh, honey. I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m so sorry for what you’re up against. SO tough. Please be sure to put YOUR health first and take care of it.

  7. laurie Says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. WHen I lost my dad, he had been sick for well over a decade but was really mentally out of it in the last 6 months. That was enough to make me need therapy for a few years.

    I love that Plath poem. Oddly, she gives me comfort when I feel like my world is caving in. I hope you are finding some strength to cope with all of this. You are such an amazing writer to spin this beautiful prose out of the cobwebs of your family’s suffering. I don’t post comments much, but I regularly read your blog and I am so moved by your narrative. Thanks for sharing.

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