Monday, June 4, 2012

I'll Follow the Sun

My mom and dad and Minnie Me. Everyone was happy this day. My mom had just handed Minnie over to my dad. 'Hold the baby' she said. She asked me to go make her a bottle. The whole thing was so cute and hilarious that we all couldn't help but just laugh and enjoy the moment. Minnie went along with it. She probably almost believed she was a baby at this point.

Went to Tucson to visit my folks. My mom was six months out of a full hip replacement and rehab after falling again. Almost exactly one year before she fractured it and had a surgery. But damned if that woman didn't look twice as good as when I'd seen her last. Even with the dementia and all she's had to endure, she sat there as the most amazing person I'd ever met.

Tucson after Brooklyn is an adjustment in every respect. The pace, the temperature, the brightness, the scope of land you could see...the people. Most people were white without accents, even the cabdriver. A blonde woman that talked to me the whole ride home about global warming. You don't quite get that in NY but who can afford a cab. All the grocery checkers were white, the gas station attendants, the fast food restaurant workers. There were however tons of Mexican-Americans and assorted other groups, so it was diverse. It's just I haven't seen white people in these types of jobs in a very long time. It was nice.

I'm also not used to seeing Mexicans fully integrated into the community. Second and third generations, just like me who grew up in the states and who went to school right along side everyone else. In New York, especially Brooklyn, most folks are coming from their countries, not born here and the Mexicans don't speak a lot of English and work the back of house restaurant jobs and the service jobs and they don't really mix as much.

The heat was hardcore but there was something really beautiful about being outside and how still and peaceful their yard was. I needed a break from New York and at the time this small house deep in some neighborhood was about as far away as I could imagine.

I stayed at the house most of the time taking care of my mom. Every morning and every afternoon my dad would make breakfast and dinner. They had a routine and I had no problem falling right in.

My dad made homemade chorizo which was kind of off the hook. I stepped out and had fried eggs most mornings with the full mexican monty of beans, tortillas, salsa, a fresh jalapeno pepper. My mom always had Cream of Wheat or oatmeal with fruit. A big bowl. She'd take an hour but she'd eat the whole thing with a half of cup of coffee.

My dad and my niece were both discovering black beans. My dad just couldn't get his mind around them. Said he couldn't stand looking at them. My sister doesn't like them either. I love black beans and can eat them everyday. But my dad gave it a shot and made a bunch that we ate until he just couldn't look at them anymore and threw them out.

My mom had another hospital scare with firefighters coming to access her and then a long painstaking trip to the emergency room just to keep her for a couple of nights in my opinion only to soak her insurance and fill our heads with gloom and doom. At least 4 people asked me including an 18 year old with a clipboard, 'in the case her hearts stops'...and I couldn't hear anything after that but asked in the same tone you'd ask if you want cream or sugar in your coffee.

One night Minnie looked funny, sick and weak and my dad told me she had cancer and wasn't expected to last very long. We wrapped her up and I gave her some chicken and water and she passed that night in her sleep. She stared at me so long that night, I knew where she was going and I tried to tell her not to be scared. It must have been confusing for her. But she seemed to want to be near my mom and I suspect Minnie felt bad for leaving her. They gave her a little funeral and buried her in my niece's backyard. She was a sweet dog and loved my mom and dad very much. She always stayed awake until they both went to bed and barked when someone was at the door. R.I.P. Minnie.

My dad made chicken enchiladas that were heaven on earth. The sauce was perfect, the cheese-tortilla-meat ratio was on the mark and he made a whole sheet pan! Life was good again. His salsa is still unmatched and I honestly haven't tasted better anywhere.

When they finally let my mom out of the hospital it was Father's Day and so we wrapped her up and put her in the front seat, went to steal my dad and took a little drive. He moved there years ago but because of his age, mom's condition and the fact that he shouldn't drive much, never really had a chance to see much of Tucson. We saw not a lot but enough to see that's its a cool town. People seem happy there and I dug the pace.

I left them much the same as I'd started out, dad watching Fox 5 news at full blast sound. My mom telling me about the tree she climbed outside with her brother.

I hate leaving them. I loved being near them and eating with them, sitting quietly, laughing, talking. The serenity in that home made me less scared of my own life and for what's in the future for them.



  1.'s OK. Just got something in my eye. Probably the pollen in the air. Stupid pollen.


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