Today was a warm and sunny day. I mounted my Van Moof X2 to visit my father, who is in a care home (cf. previous posts). I was wearing a Vivienne Westwood (Red Label) skirt. The skirt is an old favorite of mine. It’s tight through the thighs, but manageably narrow further down. It’s just as constrictive a skirt as one can ride the X2 with.
Riding the bike like a crazy person, and as dangerously, it took me 25 minutes to arrive at the care home. I kicked the rear wheel in its electronic lock and chained up the bike. I went inside, registered, dutifully put on the facemask handed to me at the reception desk and ran up three flights of stairs to arrive at the open ward where my Dad has his tiny room.
Since last week my father is in a new wheelchair. He was no longer able to keep himself erect in the one he had before. The new wheelchair can be tilted. It had taken two forward falls of the 96-year old, several poorly stitched-up headwounds and contusions all over his face, for the former wheelchair to be replaced. He never even complained. There is one nurse in particular who is kindly disposed to him, and someone in housekeeping. I, his youngest daughter, look him up every weekend, Saturdays and Sundays, barring force majeure. If one is 96 going on 97, unable to piss, shit, go to or get out of bed by oneself, or to keep one’s saliva in one’s mouth when eating, and hardly capable of making understandable speech because of a muscular disorder, that is nowhere near bad for company.
I decided to take my Dad out for a stroll in a nearby park. We rode down in the elevator. I was facing the backwall. The upper part of my body was reflected in a full-length mirror. The lower half was behind the wheelchair. I was wearing the facemask. The facemask concealed the scarred and molten part of my face. I thought maybe I should wear it forever.
I bought vanilla flavored ice-cream for my Dad and myself at a pop-up kiosk. The girl at the counter told me her granddad, 93, who could still walk, if with some difficulty, lived just across from the park. He didn’t want to be taken for a walk in the park with her, or anyone. He had never been inside the park. He had been living at a stone’s throw of it practically all his life, but he had never set foot on its grounds. I asked her if she knew of a specific reason for his refusal to visit the park. She said she didn’t. Perhaps something having to do with the War, she offered. Everything here, in this country of my exile, seemed to have “something to do with the War”, I thought. I told her my father wasn’t even from these parts. I told her I had my father moved up to this town to be able to look after him after my Mom had died. My Mom died two years ago, when I was in New York for business, pleasure and catching up with my friend on Union Square. My Mom died right after the business part. I didn’t get to enjoy the rest. I didn’t even get to meet with my friend.
Afraid the ice-cream would melt I said goodbye and joined my father, who was in a shadowy spot. Very old people have a tendency to eat greedily, as if Death might put a sudden end to everything, ignoring the fact that the chosen is still eating and might just as well be allowed to finish, ice-cream in particular. But it is not greed. It is the lack of coordination, the effort of getting the spoon in the cup, then, unevenly loaded with the food, to the mouth,, then chew (as applicable), then swallow, and keep track of where one is at in the cycle to repeat and not interrupt it. It is the concentration required to pull it off that may strike one as greediness. As a matter of fact, I finished the cup twice as fast as my father. I’m not greedy or intemperate. I’m just impatient and incapable of thinking of food as being more than something to be downed and done with. I’m easily bored by food. I said we were going back. He said he had to piss. He used a nicer word, a word that he taught us when we were kids. I told him that it would have to wait.
I rolled him back to the care home. The wheelchair was about twice as heavy to push as the previous one. I exaggerated the effort to exercise my gluteal muscles. We got back in time for my Dad to discharge. I helped him with the urinal. My Dad is so old, I can stuff his cock in the urinal’s opening as if it were just minced meat in a condom. It looks like a lot of meat. But I found myself unable to imagine what its size might have been in times and on occasions it would have been prouder of.