Thursday, July 21, 2011

Talkin' to Myself Again

Mom is spending her summer here in the State of Concrete Gardens - as she has done for the past several summers.  You know that you live someplace that is unbearably hot when you seek refuge from its summer heat in the cool, comfortable confines of Jersey in July.....and August.  Truth be told, she spends her time in the most carefree of all pursuits:  chilling at the beach with Jill and her gang.  She is beyond elated to be there - and the home team is doubly so. 

Margaret used to wonder from whence I obtained my seemingly myopic point of view regarding health care and visits to the doctor, which can be summed up as follows:  take as many Advil daily as needed to blunt the pain.  Believe that it shall work.  One day it shall not.  That is the day for which life insurance was created.  Being my father's son I learned at an early age - 14 years/4 months (give or take a day or two) - the importance of life insurance.  I have a book value that goes up as my body temperature goes down.  I presume that the day on which my "Advil for Everything" plan officially fails, Margaret shall shed a tear or two.  I shall die comforted by the fact that she will be able to buy as much Kleenex as necessary to tap dance her way through the grieving process.

The questions my wife had vis-a-vis my approach to health care were answered quite resoundingly this past week.  Mom apparently brought with her from Florida an infection of some sort, which (unlike Laura Ingraham's jewelry) escaped from the TSA screening unscathed and accompanied her to Jill's.  By day's end last Friday, her 83 year-young self had run out of steam.  So rather than spending last weekend and the first half of this week soaking up the sun and sand of the Shore, Mom spent it in the not quite as splendid surroundings of Room 5 on Two West at the Ocean Medical Center.  Where is the Ocean Medical Center?  It's about a mile down on the dark side of Route 88.  Beautiful Brick Township.

Thankfully, Mom's was a hospital story with a beginning significantly bumpier than its ending.  By the time Margaret and I made our trip Monday night to see her, she was not only looking much better than she had when we first saw her Saturday afternoon but she was looking forward very much to being sprung the following day, which she was.  As we were visiting her Monday night the conversation turned to how Margaret and I spent our Sunday night, which was at the Somerset Patriots Ballpark with Joe.  Margaret told Mom something that she had told me previously, which I of course had forgotten several seconds after hearing it, which was that Sunday night's game was the first baseball game her Dad had seen in person since he was a little boy. 

Joe is a Brooklyn boy.  Prior to Sunday's trip to the ballpark his last in-person baseball game had been viewed when he was a boy growing up in Mr. Kotter's favorite borough.  He saved up $2.00 and bought a ticket to see the Dodgers play at Ebbets Field.  When Margaret told Mom that story on Monday night, Mom's eyes lit up.  She is now - as she has been the entirety of my life - a devout Brooklyn Dodgers fan. 

I thought that by this point in my life I had heard all of the stories that Mom had to share with me about her love of the Dodgers and her enjoyment of games at Ebbets Field.  Monday night I learned that I had not.  She told Margaret and me how it was she became a fixture - at least for a time - in the stands at Ebbets Field, which was a story that will forever more make me smile every time I think of it but will not be retold here for it is hers to tell and not mine. 

She also told us about a trip to the ballpark she made with her younger brother Paul (may he Rest in Peace), who Mom told us was eight years her junior - and a school friend of his.  For reasons having everything to do with the length of the game, which went into extra innings, and the fact that Uncle Paul's school chum apparently was the son of someone attached to the Colombian Embassy, the indomitable Joanie K. (who was no more than a teenager herself at the time) created a minor international incident when she was unable to deliver him home by the time he was originally anticipated.  As she told that story, she laughed and laughed.  She actually laughed to the point that her eyes started to well up a bit.  And so did mine.  Not from laughing.  Rather from visualizing Mom a lifetime removed from eighty-three.  No one's wife.  No one's mother.  Just a confident teenage girl chaperoning her baby brother and his playmate on an afternoon's trip to Ebbets Field.  A sight to see. 

And it was at that moment that I saw that look in her eye.  The look that you hope to catch in the eye of another who you love at least on occasion.  The look that says, "I am at peace."  The look that says the present is OK and the path I walked to get here was not too damn bad either.  A look of once and present contentment. 

I slept a great deal easier on Monday night than I did either on Saturday or Sunday night.  In part I suppose because the treatment regimen I am following to quell the effects of the poison ivy that has decided I am its host organism du jour seemed to work a bit better than it had initially.  Most of it, however, was due to the time I spent in the unlikeliest of places with a woman I am damned fortunate to know and damned lucky to have had as the one who helped me navigate my life - at least up until the quarter-pole. 

....And who reminded me again on Monday night that even with eight-plus decades in the arena under her belt, she still has things to teach me and about which to educate me.  And she still has stories she could tell


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