I don’t usually get too personal on this blog. It’s usually just tech stuff and comic book stuff and random silliness. But I feel like I need to get some stuff out of my head and on to “paper” today. (I should warn you that you should skip reading this, if you’re not in the mood for maudlin.)
My dad died at the end of September, and my mom passed away on Monday of this week. After my dad passed, I was so busy taking care of my mom (or at least *trying* to take care of her) that I never really had enough time to process Dad’s death. And of course I spent most of this week handling the arrangements for my mom, so again, I haven’t had time to think about things much. Now though, the immediate details are all taken care of, and I find myself with a few spare moments here in my apartment, with nothing much that really needs doing right away. So now, I’m thinking.
I’ve realized that it’s Friday night. I used to call my dad almost every Friday night. For a while, I was calling at right around 7:30 every Friday. I tried to avoid calling during Jeopardy, since that would usually result in Mom yelling at Dad, because he was talking too loud and she couldn’t hear Jeopardy. So I’d wait until 7:30 to call. Sometimes, we’d just have a short call, going over anything that came up during the week, or talking about whatever holiday or birthday might be coming up and whether I was coming down, and what we’d do. At one point, we’d fallen into the habit of having pretty long phone conversations — about a half-hour usually. (My dad had a tendency to ramble.) I used to look forward to these calls. I know that some people don’t like calling their parents, but I genuinely liked talking to my dad, most of the time. Talking to Dad was a good way to unwind after a hectic week. I’d look forward to opening a bottle of beer and giving him a call. I’m just now realizing that I’m not going to have any more of those calls.
And I’m thinking about holidays too. Mom was always good about decorating the house (whether it was in Whiting or back in Roselle Park) for Easter and Christmas. Nothing elaborate or fancy; she just had a bunch of knick-knacks and stuff that she’d pull out of the closet and put around the house. I’d gone down to the house in Whiting for every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (and most other holidays) since they moved down there. We’d usually make a lasagna, maybe cook a small turkey, or something like that. The last couple of years, as Mom and Dad had both been having increasing trouble with their eyes, we’d scaled back a bit, and had actually gotten take-out a few times on holidays. But we still got together and hung out, even if it was just the three of us, having Thai food. There were a few years, when my brother Pat was still alive, where he and Heather would come down too, and maybe one or two people from Heather’s family might drop by, and one or two neighbors would come by, and we’d have a nice group of 5 or 6 or 7 people over. That was always fun.
I’m starting to wonder what I’m going to do on holidays from now on. Back when I thought Mom would hang in there for another 2 or 3 years, I anticipated that I’d probably go over to assisted living, and maybe take Mom out to dinner on holidays, or at least hang out with her for awhile if she wasn’t up to going out. Now, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll do some traveling around the holidays. Maybe I’ll go down to Atlanta and visit my brother Mike. Or maybe I’ll go into NYC on Thanksgiving, and see the parade. I guess I can do whatever I want now. I don’t have any family obligations at all. It feels pretty weird. Looking ahead, I think I’ll get through Easter easily enough. Maybe I’ll go to mass, then just come back home and relax. Thanksgiving and Christmas are going to be hard though. I was joking with somebody a while ago about doing a Jewish Christmas next year — hit a Jewish deli for lunch, then see a movie, then Chinese for dinner. I may actually do that. Or maybe I’ll go to mass at a big church in NYC and make a day of that. Or find a volunteer opportunity somewhere, maybe with the Salvation Army or something.
One other thing I’ve now realized that I’ve lost forever: Dad would often tell me, if I was complaining about work, or fretting about losing my job, that I could always move back in with him and Mom, if things got too bad. While I’ve always had a decent job, and more than enough money to pay my rent, it was a nice feeling to know that, if things got too bad, I could always move in to the spare room in Whiting for a while. It wasn’t just a monetary thing — if, maybe, I got really sick, or got seriously injured, or had a nervous breakdown or something, I knew there was a place I could go where they’d take me in, no question.
On a practical basis, I’ve been on my own for many years now. I’ve always had enough money to pay all my bills. I paid for my last car in cash. And I’ve got enough money stashed away to survive a couple of years of unemployment if I ever have to. I haven’t really *relied* on my parents for anything. But it was good to know that they were there if I needed them.
OK, so this post has really just been a bunch of clichéd self-pity. Everybody loses their parents. And it’s not uncommon to lose both of them in short succession. So, I’m not special in this. But it still hurts, and it’s still helpful to organize these thoughts and write them down. If you didn’t enjoy reading this, then feel free to forget all about it, and head over to The Onion and have a few laughs.