||[Apr. 4th, 2010|05:54 pm]
i am in ottawa right now, sitting out on my mother's front porch in a silk dress, drinking water out of an old jelly jar. post easter brunch with the family, i am overfed, wired on hotel coffee, and i think i can hear my mom pulling into the driveway just now.|
carlo came to ottawa with me, we lit out on the nine o'clock bus this morning, arriving in the early afternoon. went to brunch with extended family on my mom's side. the whole circus - pregnant cousin, cynical grandmother, over-eating aunt etcetera etcetera.
we rode in the back of my aunt's station wagon, in the seat that faces out the rear window. carlo was almost carsick. we were dropped off at elgin and argyle, across from the museum my dad has spent the past three years or so redesigning. the two of us sat out on the steps of my father's building for a long while, chatting, squinting in the sun.
a brief talk with gina, my father's girlfriend, as she was on her way out to easter at her sister's house, then up into the apartment.
my dad is getting thin. he looks young - unnaturally so. his skin is smooth, all of his facial hair has fallen out save for a little white 'tache' under his lip. he put the radio on as carlo and i took our shoes off. we all scrubbed out hands with antibacterial gel, and dad retired to the big grey armchair that he has been living in of late. he's even got a red tartan blanket for his legs. it is very stylish in a 'country lord with cancer' kind of way.
it turns out that he has spent the past week in the hospital, in isolation. thrush in his mouth ulcerated, went wild. he developed a fever, and checked himself into emergency. he and carlo traded horror stories. i will leave out my simmering frustration with gina, who didn't think to call or write. it would've been nice to know that he was in the hospital , as i'd been ringing him all week and getting the machine.
he's lost his voice. he had the last time we spoke on the phone, effect of the radiation i guess. he croaks and whispers, sometimes breaking through into a stronger voice i recognize. we talked. drank water. i caught myself holding my breath, wanting ot keep my germs to myself. his immune system is shot.
he talked about the radiation machine. said it felt like they were shaving off his life every time he gets on the table, slicing closer and closer to the bone. he called it a 'ring of death', casually. the treatments are hard and he's having a rough time. can't eat or taste, other things are falling apart. his mouth has been a wreck of sores on the inside, he says, but it is starting to improve.
we left early, my dad tired but spirited enough. carlo walked me out. insisted on hugging me in the street, asked me how i felt. i wasn't sure. he said he had thought my dad would be worse. i thought he would be better. it's not clear what to expect.
i walked carlo to the bus, tottering on heels all the way down to catherine street. bummed 20 bucks off of him to take a taxi home, and he gave me a pebble he stole from the decorative rock display in the hotel we ate brunch at. i kissed him goodbye, saw him off, then took a cab. all the way home i put my face to the wind, the window all the way down. held the rock in my hand, along with the little roll of bills. no pockets in this dress.
i came back to my mom's place, took the key out from under the mat. opened the door, planning mentally for a great big dog to come and try to muscle her way outside, but the dog is dead and the house is empty. i took a couple of advil from my sister's old room to try and smooth out a headache, they expired in 2007 and the sugar coating was all fuzzy. not the best.
i've put a load of laundry in, and i'm sitting out on the porch with the sun on my legs. the first flies of the season keep landing on my toes while i type, and i've almost pitched my mom's laptop down the steps a few times. the ants are out too, crawling industriously across my feet and down the stairs. i seem to be sitting in a high-traffic zone.
i want to say i'm tired, but it's not tired. i think it's worried. i'm worried, i guess.
for now the sun is warm and i can hear the red-winged blackbirds calling. they're my favourite bird, if i ever had to choose a favourite. if my mother and grandmother don't come home soon, i might walk down to the river. a little vee of tired, honking canada geese just flew low overhead. the lilacs are budding in the front yard. i'm not sure where i'm going with this, so i'll close now.