Monday, September 7, 2009

The Lemming Muses on Labor Day...

It was to be a glorious end to the summer. At the last minute, my best friend had changed his plans from a mid-week visit to visiting for the long weekend. My Mom and Dennis had decided that this would be the weekend that they would make their journey to visit us and pick up those last belongings that hadn't fit into the moving van last November. And it was, in the vernacular of the household, an "Emily weekend"...and a long one at that.

What more could anyone want? What more, indeed...


Mom confirmed her plans to be traveling to Houston two weeks earlier when I called for my weekly check-in.  During this trip she would visit a long time friend whose husband is in the final rounds of a fight with pancreatic cancer. Then she was set to see some older extended-family members who are in the sunsets of their good lives. Then she would come see us for two days before heading back to Colorado. She would make the return leg via Dallas, where she would spend the night with my brother and his family. She made it clear that she wanted to spend the night, "or two if you don't throw us out",  with us so she could see the renovations to the house (which I am very proud of!) and so that she could see and spend time with us (especially her granddaughter). I have a relatively small house, and no guest room as yet, but we went out and bought a top flight inflatable queen sized mattress that was elevated (to make it easy on them) so that they would have a comfortable bed for their visit.

When I got home Friday evening, I was advised that my mother would not be spending two evenings with us. We weren't even going to be having the pleasure of their company for a full 24 hours. They would have to leave the house the next morning so that she could get back for a routine medical exam that she had forgotten about. They did all the appropriate oooohing and ahhhing about the house renovation and she made sure that she said how proud she was of me. We spent a grand total of about 6 waking hours together. After approximately 18 hours in Houston, my mother had secured her belongings and hit the road for her next stop.

Oh...I know what you are thinking...he is such a whiner...he should be happy that he still has his mother...he is all upset about the money. Maybe you are right...but a lot went in to preparing for the visit. And it hurts that we got two days less than ... hurts - a lot. It probably shouldn't matter, but Mom and Dennis are nearing the December of their lives, and making 1500 mile road trips to see the family take a lot out of them. I have the sense that they will not pass this way again...and that is something that is hard for me to handle right now. I just wanted to spend a little more time with her at home...just long enough for me to make her a meal and laugh a little. But that wasn't to be.


We were all expecting Skip in the middle of the week after the holiday weekend. Holiday weekends being what they are, it turned out that none of the usual suspects were available. All of our mutual friends were otherwise entangled with other friends and family. Some took the opportunity to travel without kids; others were just unavailable. In the end it was just Catie, Emily and I.  A stellar grouping nonetheless - but not what he had hoped for. His visit with his ailing mother, lost in the last vicious clutches of Alzheimers had taken a lot of the wind out of his sails. And the realization that his siblings were on the verge of losing the family homestead because they had failed to step up to the responsibility that their mother had placed in their hands had just beat him down. He needed a friend that evening. He needed all his friends that evening...and it wasn't to be. I let you down , pard. It won't happen again.


Ms. E was here for the weekend. She did get to see her Grandma for a little bit. And she did get to see Uncle Skip...who she dearly loves. Through all of the hubbub, we managed to keep the visit fairly inactive because she had a bum ankle for this visit. This is one of those things that happens to 8 year old kids when they play. We meant to get out to a movie, but when time got away from us, we resorted to building up the nascent Blu-Ray collection. The movie she chose was "Marley and Me". This is a wonderful story about a man and his Labrador retriever and the relationship they forge as they face life together. However it ends with the dog dying. I thought I was ready for this...but it turns out I wasn't.

I lost my Lab, Falstaff, 30.5 months ago when he lost his bout with pancreatic cancer. I had gotten him to be a companion for my soon-to-be wife, for those periods of time that my job took me away from home. This woman would become Emily's mother. Falstaff was with me through the alpha and the omega of that union (admittedly, a short passage in our lives), and then on through the first 6 years of Emily's life. His death has had the largest impact of any of the critical life-altering experiences that have shaped my existence. Watching a fellow human being at a similar point in his life going through the same experience brought the pain back in a flood.

My daughter, being the sensitive type, understood. She got up to leave the room so that I could have my moment of remembrance. A hug and a kiss as I took her home was all that we said on the matter. I wish she and Falstaff could have grown up together. They would have been great friends.

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