Sunday, December 23, 2001

and the cue card says applaud now

my dad keeps nodding off. he is sitting at the dining room table attempting to read the newspaper. his head slowly descends to rest on top of the newspaper, lies there for a minute or five completely knocked out until some noise startles him, he then lifts his head and starts reading the newspaper and the cycle begins again. and it repeats itself again and again.

he came to stay at my mom's house last night for christmas. he normally lives out in manasas. my parents have been seperated for almost two years now, but every now and then when me and my sister come home, he will come over and spend a couple days at our house, sleeping on the futon in the basement. and so, last night he came over to stay at our house for christmas.

last night, he fell asleep within an hour of coming here. the chemo treatment and all the drugs he is on for his lung cancer make him so dopey and tired. he kept on coming upstairs to snack on some food and would always mumble something half-sensical and i would be like "what?" and he would repeat himself, and i would respond with a i-don't-know-what-the-hell-you-are-saying-you-crazy-old-man stare. he is so doped up from his treatment that he has the hardest time staying awake (this is why he is now passed out on the dining room table), and talks in slurred sentances. he is ageing super rapidly.

last night when he came upstairs for a snack, he looked at the tv to see what i was watching. his head started to tilt forward, actually his whole body did, and his mouth was wide open and he stared at the tv half-awake. i wanted to take pictures of him in this state, but he probably would have been upset and i would have felt somewhat sleazy about utilizing his dying condition for some notion of art.

he has that wearied look that you see in all those wpa photos. his exhausted condition also reminds me so much of all the photos that i see now of old beleagured russians for whom the promises of capitalism never materialized, and they see young moscow capitalists living it up, and they just look so disheartened and broken. they never recieved the promised beneifts from the transition to capitalism.

that's sort of how i look at my dad. somedays he just looks utterly broken, and to continue this russian analogy, it was the promises of being a young american that never materialized for him. he arrived in new york on the eve of 1970 from chile and was going to be an american. disposable income, loud music, fast cars, cigarettes, and all the hamburgers one's heart desires. he loves rock music. he still does, except he is so unhip about the new bands and thinks that creed is a great rock band. it sort of makes cringe. but, when i was a kid, he was always jamming out to his acid rock and was always going to concerts. and for some reason, i tie his smoking to this love of american youth culture. the cigarettes that joe camel tempted america with, the cigarettes that everyone and their mom used to smoke. everyone in my family quit them in the late 80's when they realized that they were no longer kids - when they gave up on rock and roll and started listening to adult contemporary. my dad was not "too old." he listened to his hard rock stations super loud, and told me that i was too old for telling him to turn it down. me, being so so embarassed whenever he would drop me off at school or some other place and that someone i knew would hear my dad's loud music blaring.

and now my mom, who quit smoking when my dad wouldn't, is healthy, is not asleep on the dining room table right now, and who will still be alive in august, serves as my dad's path not taken. i still have not come to terms with my dad's impending death, if one cannot already tell that by my detached attitude in this entry. it still does not seem real. something about it seems awry. like i'm watching the scene, or maybe that i'm in it, but yet still aware that it is a scene. that there's a studio audience reacting to moments in the scene, even though their reactions are obviously out of place. sort of like the flinstones (the cartoon, not the movie), with how they always had fake studio audience laughter whenever fred stubbed his toe or something. there seems to be that same sort of forced reaction, or conditioned response, to this situation.

all i know for sure is that my dad is asleep on the dining room table at five something in the afternoon. that before he fell asleep, he had just woke up saying "i coulda swore it was sometime in the morning." and my mom responded casually, "nope. afternoon." and that i don't know how i feel.

No comments:

Post a Comment