Listening to every heart
Let’s see…ah yes…
The in-laws had “left” us their home in the “armpit of the world” home town, and not knowing better, I said “yes, we will accept your offer” of the house that, in all appearances, was a Disneyland nightmare of a bad dream.
Yes, I usually called it the Mickey Mouse home of horror.
Well, in this house….
I experienced the miracle of pregnancy and oncoming motherhood with my first child. That’s another story. But to frame this in its context, we’ll fast forward nine months to the baby’s birth, and the news that her paternal grandparents would “come home to see the new baby”…and she, the 13th one of their lot.
I guess I didn’t expect such exuberance over the 13th, albeit my first.
So, when June came around, so did the grandparents. I couldn’t believe how much my father-in-law had aged in a year’s time. And just as round as ever, bless his heart. I had thought I had helped my mother-in-law with his overeating problem, but he had discovered how to raid the ‘fridge. Who says old dogs can’t learn?
And of course, there was a bit of to-do over the baby…after four days of to-doing, with me working, hubby in-between jobs [again], me coming home to feed everyone, me doing the laundry, me wondering what everyone else was doing during the day while I was at work [other than to-doing over the baby]…I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them leave to visit other family members.
A few hours after they left, we got the phone call that Dad had experienced a heart-attack. Oh geez….
So homeward bound they were, to have Dad stay in the hospital, and Mom with us, as we were only blocks away from the hospital, as opposed to her other son who lived miles away in another town.
It was a stressful five days, and it came about that in order to save on medical expenses, the decision was made to move Dad to the VA hospital up in Chicago. But….he didn’t want to go. Oh my god, was he angry that we would even think of moving him to a VA hospital, “where people go to die!”
And I had a really bad feeling. I asked Mom if I should go in and talk to him, give him something else to think about, and she turned on me, saying, “he wouldn’t be in there if we hadn’t come to see the baby!”
The VA ambulance came to make the transfer. He fought them all the way. He died, 20 miles out of town.
They came back.
Mom’s grief was evident. All of the six brothers and sisters were reunited once again, under the roof of their family Mickey Mouse horror house.
Six brothers, and several children. In a house of about 1000 square feet.
One of the sisters got a hotel for herself. The others slept wherever. I was still cooking for everyone, and felt invisible to everyone. Nothing but the servant – feeding, cooking, washing, etc., because, after all…I wasn’t blood.
The decision for a memorial in his home town, and a funeral in Florida, was made. I had never been to Florida, and thought I would speak quietly with my husband to find out how we were going to afford going – our car was truly not road worthy for that kind of trip.
That’s when I found out – I wasn’t going.
Simply because – we couldn’t afford it. “I’m still unemployed – you don’t have enough vacation time. Besides, the baby will just make a lot of noise – and Mom can’t take it.”
The memorial service was nice, and flowers were everywhere. Then, every potted plant and arrangement found its way to the Mickey Mouse house of horrors.
And after almost a full two weeks of constant commotion, everyone was gone. All six brothers and sisters, their children, and Mom. Only the baby, myself, and floral arrangements remained, along with my guilt, over having had a baby that killed her grandfather on his first visit back home.
I tried to be rational. I tried to convince myself that having a baby girl and having her grandfather visit was NOT the reason that he had died. He had died…because he had a heart attack.
I remember trying to talk to him, that first night after everyone left. I tried to speak to the green walls [every wall was green in the house – every wall – because he had found a “sale” on war-green paint] thinking he would hear me.
I was never sure if the sound in my head was him, or what I wanted to hear. “It was not your fault. It was my time.”
Yes, but Mom said….
Oh. Oh. Guilt. One of the heaviest veils.