For those that might follow me, or those that might have read my previous diary regarding my parents its pretty obvious which line my parents have fallen.
I don't hold them to task for it, I think butting heads with them is futile and to be perfectly honest I'd rather enjoy my time with my family in love and joy. I've decided to avoid discussion regarding anything societal and political and would rather just focus on a love I have for family.
There is a bit of catharsis beyond this orange black hole, so to be honest if you don't follow me beyond...I completely am understanding of why. It gets deep, it gets dark at times, and to be fair to any audience who is dead set to read by this moment...there might not be a happy ending.
I love my home town of Chicago, I love it almost as much as I love my family. I love the culture, the people, just the FEEL of the city. My most favorite drive now is coming up the Skyway from Indiana into the down town circle. Sure the traffic is hell once you get up near the interchange but really sitting there on the road in deadlock, one need only look to their west to see such an amazing view of the city scape.
When I look on that skyline it just reminds me of how great we are and how great we can be. Men and women built that skyline, with blood sweat and tears they raised amazing structures near one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. I could espouse for the rest of the diary but suffice to say, I love that town. my home town.
I write this because as I was driving that day up the skyway and got gridlocked near the Dan Ryan interchange, I was using that skyline to distract me from the task at hand. You see I was driving to say goodbye to my dying grandmother. I to be honest hadn't planned on saying my last goodbyes, I had planned on just visiting my then sick grandmother. It was serious as my aunt had said, but up until last Thursday night, it was just another dip in the roller coaster that has been her story of what is typical of the aging end years.
I had just had a fight with my father the night before as well. It was fluff, as all things that originate on facebook (and they wonder why I've given that crap up, even me being a thirty something techophile) a complete kerfuffle. One side totally taking another to task over something that need not taken to task on and the same side taken offense to the others offense, it was just a classic example of why I do not talk to my parents anymore.
I ended the conversation with my dad that night of the fluff while on the phone with this...I literally texted this after he blew up at me and hung up the phone, me having phoned him requesting him to apologize to my wife for words he had said to her.
This was my exact text, verbatim.
"I don't care whatever it is tonight Dad, I love you. I'm leaving Sat at 8, you are welcome to ride along"
So I planned the trip. I worked the budget, worked out what the tolls would cost. Yeah I'd have to cut back on this, sure I couldn't get my typical weekend rum budget...hey man has to have distractions at time.. but I worked it out. However, waiting in the wind was a savoir. My wife's father offered to give me the cash necessary to cover all costs. My stalwart Conservative father in law knew the pain he saw in me, having just lost his mother to cancer.
I was flabbergasted and quite frankly still stunned to some degree. I plan to personally take him aside sooner rather than later and thank him for those last moments I had with my grandmother. His kindness and generous nature allowed me to enjoy a scant few final moments with a woman who I hold in the highest regard. A women who would bake me Mickey Mouse pancakes on Sunday before we would dress up for church. A women who would introduce me to a bevy of classic entertainment.
I knew the entire Mary Poppins movie to heart before my sixth grade thanks to her. Every time I watch that movie I think of Sunday afternoons at her house. The same house my grandfather built from his own blood sweat and tears. I remember getting 'measured' on the closet door as I grew into a young man.
...and here I am blubbering like a baby listening to Marry Poppins
I love you Grandma, I just wish your son would take a chill.
So there I was traveling to her for what is likely or most certainly a last time. I had picked up my parents because they had originally planned to travel separately. Their transmission in their car had gone however and just as fate would have it, I woke up a few minutes late and had gotten their text. So there they were in my car, my mom mired in the book with her headphones on while my dad sat in the passenger seat next to me. I was listening or rather as perhaps I had originally thought suffered to their ears and to my delight the musings of NPR. Specifically I was listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.
Great show by the way.
But for a quick second there was a quick moment of wit where we both laughed at the same joke. I thought maybe then, maybe then perhaps we could just forget everything and focus on the task at hand. I don't know, going to see a dying family member. And this seemed possible. There was literally no talk of anything political or societal the entire way to the destination.
We made that trip from South Bend, IN to Rockford, IL with nary an issue.
And we got to see my grandmother for a last time. She has now moved to hospice care, she personally having made to the decision to abate all life saving care. She's in renal failure now, so time is a short. I unfortunately have a baby coming soon, like literally within the midnight hour. So my father will most likely go visit again, but for myself I said my goodbye this past weekend.
Hell, because of limited time off due to the baby there is a big chance I may not even make any service that is had. Not really that there will be any service to begin with, my grandmother is in on medicare without supplemental and has a scant five thousand life insurance policy to her name. She will most likely be cremated and then loosely interned next to my grandfather in a cemetery in Dolton, IL. I am thankful however for the social programs which had allowed her to live long enough to say goodbye.
My trip home however, that is another story all together.
It started at a Burger King off the Calumet Ave exit off the 80/90.
We all were hungry, having just traversed some hours without sustenance, we needed refueling. We exited the highway on search of food and pulled into a Burger King. On exiting the vehicle I remarked to my dad, while point across the street, hey there is a local BBQ place maybe we could get some Italian Beef.
For those not in the know, we take our Italian Beef pretty damn serious in the Chicago Land area.
But time of was the essence, and we ended up in the parking lot of a franchised Burger King walking up to its entrance to order a quick meal. I being the miser I am, had planned to order off the dollar menu. But on this menu instead of fries I wanted onion rings for this meal. Apparently at this particular moment the rings needed to be dropped to order. That meaning when ordered they were dropped into the fryer.
We left approximately 10 minutes later. Sure longer than most fast food orders, but in so far as having food dropped to order, in my honest opinion well within what one would consider 'fast food'
It wasn't enough for my mother.
For the next 30 minutes until La Porte, IN what transpired was a conversation on how 'she had worked fast food and was timed on delivery and expected better' and my counterpoint on how if she expected better service perhaps minimum wage should pay closer to minimum pegged to inflation.
It literally opened up a can of worms, and for the next hour right up until I told my folks literally almost near their front door "I love you and this is why I don't discuss things with you" for them to finally shut up.
And I use such a strong term of shut up because this is what the mature person does. Mature people recognize when there is no reasonable discourse, or direction, or whatever and they realize when its smarter to just meet lower lip to top lip.
And here is the cathartic moment.
I spent the last 3 hours of my 8 hour trip to say goodbye to my dying grandmother arguing policy, politics, and society when in the reality I should have been recounting to my father.
Floor is yours, I'm going to bed. I have to work in the morning like many of you.
I almost feel like steeling a quote.
"Can we all get along?"