Sunday, November 05, 2006

put on your big girl panties and deal with it

Daddy-O was released from the hospital on Thursday afternoon, so R and I brought him home. He was kind of grumpy, but he said he felt pretty good, overall, and he was surprisingly fast with his walker.

On Friday afternoon, I got a call from my old friend B-kun, and R was gracious enough to lend me his car for a few hours so we could get together. We got coffee and went to see Borat, and holy christballs...that was the best $6 I ever spent in my life, because I didn't think about all this dramarama once during the entire flick.

And yesterday, we were all sitting in the living room, watching TV, when Dad got up to use the bathroom. As he walked past me, I noticed a stain spreading across the side of his shorts.

"Dad, I think your dressing is leaking," I said cautiously. He swore loudly and asked R and me to help him change it.

I can honestly say that was one of the worst moments in my life. I watch Nip/Tuck and all three CSIs religiously, so my tolerance for ick is fairly high, but it's an entirely different story when it's not only real ick, but it involves someone you love. R and I tried the best we could, but we were having a hard time doing it without causing him pain, and in desperation I got out the Yellow Pages and looked up professional nursing services. I didn't get an answer at the first two places I tried, but the receptionist at the third place said she'd have someone call me back as soon as possible. I didn't hold out a lot of hope, but within five minutes, a woman with a Jamaican accent called me back. I explained what was happening, and although I tried to keep from choking up, I couldn't. She said, "Oh, sweetheart, I know this is hard for you. Your poor daddy. I'll be there as soon as I can."

And about an hour later---she got lost---the marvelously named Margina arrived. Honestly, she looked more like a hooker than a registered nurse. She had bright blonde hair and wore tight jeans and high-heeled boots, and she put on bright purple surgical gloves and strode into Daddy-O's bathroom like she owned the place. She changed his dressing in short order, collected her thirty dollars (I was astounded it wasn't more; true, she was there for less than ten minutes, but it was damned short notice and she drove in from the Cities), and made Daddy-O smile by saying, "Honey, you so handsome I bet you got ladyfriends around the block and around the clock. When you all healed up, you give me a call and take me out dancing."

(Seriously, I couldn't make Margina up if I tried.)

Later on, G came over with chicken fettucini alfredo, salad, sugar cookies, and a bottle of syrah. Daddy-O had to sit in the recliner because the dining room chairs don't have arms, and are therefore next to impossible for him to get in and out of, but it was still an enjoyable dinner. I have to say that I like G much more than I used to. Oh, sure, she still has that whiff of entitlement about her that I'm not too keen on, but she's been amazing during all of this, and he obviously adores her completely.

When G was leaving, she gave me a big hug and said, "Your dad appreciates you coming out here so much. Have a safe trip home tomorrow!"

"I will, thanks," I said, and after she was gone, I took a shower and then climbed into my old bed to read for a while.

I kind of hate to leave, but god, it will be so good to get back to normal, I thought. And most of all, I can't wait to see ["my"] G waiting for me at the baggage claim!

The night, as it has been since Dad got home from the hospital, was anything but peaceful. I imagine it's much the same as when you bring a baby home from the hospital; I sleep, but I'm still on high alert. Throughout the night, when I hear his walker scraping against the bathroom tile, I'm up immediately. I put on my glasses and go into his room, and when he comes out of the bathroom, I help him back into bed and pull the heavy down comforter over him. I get him water and a pain pill if he needs it, and then I tell him goodnight and go flop into bed again. In the morning, when R gets up, he takes over and I get a few hours of completely uninterrupted sleep.

This morning, that sleep was interrupted when R came into my room and said, "C, you better come quick."

Yeah, that worked like a needle of adrenaline to the heart. I leaped out of bed and raced to Dad's bathroom, where he was bracing himself against the counter. A nasty, tricolored stain was spreading against the gauze at an alarmingly rapid pace. I called his doctor's office, got the answering service, left a message, and waited. When the doctor called back, he said he'd call in a prescription for Keflex, and that Dad should come in on Monday for an examination. "It's probably nothing to worry about, but we need to be sure," he said.

R and I did a quick patch job, during which I almost fainted, and then I got Dad settled into the recliner with a bowl of cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast. I called Margina, and she said she'd come out in the afternoon. I thanked her, and then I went back to Dad and said, "Do you want me to stay a couple of extra days? I don't feel right leaving you with this new development."

He hesitated, and I could see in his eyes that he really wanted to say yes. "It's really up to you," he said. "I don't want this to affect your life anymore than it has. You need to get back to work and get on with your own life."

I said, "I'm going to take a shower and think about it."

And in the shower, I crouched on the floor with the water running over me, and I wept, "I want to go home, I want to go home!"

Suck it up, buttercup. You've been through worse than this, and you'll get through this too. Now go out there and do what you gotta do.

And, in short order, I cancelled my plane ticket for today, booked a flight home for Wednesday night, called G in tears, called K in tears, and called my boss in tears. Then I composed myself and returned to the living room, where I told Daddy-O that I had changed my reservations and would be leaving on Wednesday instead.

"But wasn't it expensive to change your flight at the last minute?"

"Not half as expensive as the therapy I'd need if I went back to California and it turns out you needed me."

And, for the first time in weeks, I felt at peace. I'd faced a crisis, and I'd put the welfare of my family above my own needs. Even when R pulled me aside to tell me the flush lever on the toilet in the hall bathroom had broken, I kept calm, and I went in and took the lid off and examined the problem. Then I borrowed R's car and went to Home Depot, where I stood in the plumbing aisle and looked at flush levers. I selected one, paid for it, and returned home, where I discovered that I'd bought a front-mounting kit, when our toilet's flush lever was on the side.


A little more ruffled, I returned to Home Depot, and this time, as I stood in the plumbing aisle searching for a side-mount kit, a man came up to me and said, "Boy, you look like you're having a hard day."

I gave him a quick, humorless smile. "It hasn't been the best couple of weeks," I said in a classic moment of severe understatement.

"Well, the great news is that Jesus loves you."

Oh. No. He. DINT.

Unfortunately, I chose that moment to suffer from what the French call l'esprit de l'escalier. This fantastic phrase literally means "spirit of the staircase", but figuratively, it means thinking of the perfect thing to say when it's too late. It wasn't until I was in the car that I realized the perfect response would have been, "Dude, when Jesus comes to my fucking house and fixes my fucking toilet and heals my dad's fucking hip, then he and I will be best pals, okay? We'll be hunky dory. Till then, shut the FUCK UP!"

Okay, I've wallowed for as long as I can stand it, so I'm retiring to bed with the new People. Sure, I'm sad that my reunion with G has been delayed, and that I can't sleep in my own bed or see K or pet the cat, and I'm frankly a little worried about possible repercussions at work, seeing as I'm taking off another three days.

But what can I say?

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I've always been a daddy's girl.