Left Eye Lopes (Five Dollar Complaints #6, #7, #8)

Readers, you need either a thank you or apology up front. I realize this place, which I consider to be more of a front porch sit on a hot afternoon with a glass of tea than anything else, has been more of a hospital visit on a cold, sleety, Tuesday in February. Yeah, I don’t want to be there either. I’m glad you still come and visit though, because I sure as hell need to hear my own voice even if I don’t like what’s coming out of my mouth. And you are very, very good listeners. I will bake you cookies.

At dinner on Saturday, my father said three things in my earshot.
“Hi kiddo”
“I love you”And a chuckle when RR told her favorite joke (What do you call a snake on a car? A windshield viper.)

This may have been because he was barely breathing as his cold/pneumonia/something persists nearly three weeks later. My mother says to me, “Well what’s the point of taking him to a doctor. I mean, their job is to make you better and they can’t do that, so what’s the point?” (That’s five dollars for #6, thanks, I’ll just owe you) You know, there IS still a point. You could keep him alive a bit longer. Or, at least, see if you can get him breathing again. Respiratory illnesses actually kill people. This is a known fact. Perhaps this is a good reason not to take a cross-country trip on Tuesday.

They were at our house on Saturday because Debra and I were planning to spend the day on an adventure, leaving RR with them. Come Saturday morning, my mother remembered this as going to see a movie in the late afternoon. “Come at 5”, I said, giving up the struggle. Grouchily, as Debra will tell you. Come at 5. They arrived at 3:45. Long enough for chatting, but not long enough to go anywhere. Given that I had been through a full 4 different plans to celebrate my wife’s birthday, this was just another drop in the bucket (#7).

My mother, who needs someone to talk to because I cannot imagine what it must be like to live her life right now, joined me in the kitchen. I actually can’t imagine it because of the ugly sobbing (mine) that follows. Oh you know, she says, thanks for letting me rest at your house this week. You know, those eye drops really made it hard to see. I inquire. Oh yes, I can’t see out of my left eye anymore, she says covering her right eye for effect. You see, you’re not there at all anymore! Says the woman who is hoping to drive 500 miles a day for the next three days, hauling a beast of an RV behind her (#8).

So, there you have it. Numbers 6-8. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But now I have to figure how to get you to come over to listen to my work problems. Or maybe the ugly sobbing problems. Or my wifely duty problems. I’ll bribe you with pictures of my daughter but I won’t blame you if you have to stay home and wash your hair, instead.

As for those cookies:


A Better Times Bookmark

You know what you should do when every single day feels like a battle? Get this cat. Or that artist. Either will do. Consider fat cat Sol a reminder to write about better times.


Well At Least Someone Doesn’t Have Cancer!

Moses is alive and well. He is sans one cancerous anal tumor (larger than expected) but still owns a complete set of lymph nodes, all of which appear to be disease free. This family is significantly more sane and has used 100% fewer tissues in the last 24 hours.


This is Not Happening

In my father’s first appointment since he finished radiation and the first round of chemo, I found myself staring at his too long big toenail and wondering at how different he, my mother, and I all are from the last time we were in that office. My father, much, much heavier from the steroids, so much slower in every way. My mother more confident and pulled together. Me, more still, more resigned, more capable of withstanding bad news. No one cried. That was new.

Also new, his balance has deteriorated. He couldn’t tell if a pen was blue or black. And a day later, I can see there were littler things. His eyes are faded out. The twinkle was absent. It looks as though he’s concentrating so hard on staying upright as he walks that he doesn’t move his head from side to side. In comparison, my mother, who is usually brisk, is practically a tornado. I told jokes and he laughed with the air of someone who knows he is supposed to but isn’t entirely sure he knows why. He missed the cues in the room when he made mistakes on the tests and, comparing this time to the visit eight weeks ago, he’s a different person entirely.

And, as I sit here, tears streaming down my face (again), I’m realizing that this slow death will be a succession of little griefs and passings. That man who is in all my pictures has mostly gone. The man who married my mother, day drinking at amusement parks, taking wild motorcycle rides along the lake, that person I didn’t exactly know, is the person my mother is grieving for and in that I have lost some of her as well. Even the man who shot at a woodchuck from the back deck two weeks ago – I’d really like him back, too.

How hard it must be for my mother to catch these glimpses of him through my very carefully optimistic and hopeful eyes. Day to day, maybe she doesn’t see it, but like taking a child to a zoo, elephants look altogether new through different eyes. I hope she is able to shut that away when she takes him home and that she can push the familiar him to the front and center. I miss him so much and he hasn’t even gone.

And still. What’s worse? Watching your father failing before your eyes or knowing that, right now, you are more devastated by the possibility of losing your dog? And there it is. I’m crying for my father, for my dog, for my family. But there’s something you can do. You can think all the most positive thoughts about Moses who goes for surgery tomorrow to remove the tumor and xrays to see if the cancer, and it is cancer, has spread to his spine. He is my best beloved and I can’t lose him yet.Moses

While You Were Away…

You guys, I was on my way to bed, thinking to myself, “no screen time two hours before bed, even backlit screens, how am I supposed to do that” forgetting, for the moment, that I’m trying not to control everything so who the hell cares whether I’m reading a book on a backlit screen before bed, when I realized you were the only people who would appreciate how ridiculous I look.

Because here I am, blue face mask drying (anti-stress, it says) in an effort to hopefully get the blemish the size of Mount Kilimanjaro that arrived ON MY CHEEK to subside or at least stop being so red and so…tall. It is so giant that I’m distracted by it when I glance down. I am also wearing one shoe because two minutes ago as I was trying to wrestle a fitted sheet free from its boa constrictor-like grasp on my forearm, I stepped awkwardly on my heel which was already sore and a blinding pain shot up my leg and knocked me over. On my ass. So I hobbled around with snake sheet and blue mask until I got to my shoe because isn’t that what you’re supposed to be doing when your foot hurts…shoes…and I jammed the hurt foot in. I did not put on the other shoe because I can’t put enough weight on the first foot to manage the second shoe. I gave the cats some water because I’m a good person and also because I’m trying not to think about the fact that I might be left with those ungrateful bastards because today the vet found a lump in the beloved dog’s rectum and it’s being biopsied and I actually cannot think of that reality. So I don’t look where I’m going with my one shoe, blue mask, snake arm hobble and I put the bare foot right into cat poop.


So I’m calling you. Because who else can you tell this shit (literally) to?

RR and the Spider

We don’t get to hear much from RR about her school day. Sometimes we trick her by saying that we know she did X today and she’ll pipe up that she, ACTUWALLY, MAMA, did Y. She’s no fool, though, and we can only get away with that particular ploy every so often.

Yesterday we found a large spider doing some serious spidering on one of our bushes. She was cleaning up her web, folding it up and tucking it away and we stood and watched, late for everything. RR jostled around, trying to get closer, both fascinated and cautious. I’ve never seen a spider so industriously working before. So fast. You got the sense that she could spring out and spider you and you would open your mouth to scream and you’d be all webby.

barn spider

Since we’ve been doing a lot of talking about barn spiders. We encouraged RR to check out the spider book at school and this evening at supper the words came spilling out. “And I looked in the books and there were five different books and we found the BARN SPIDER and the spider was so pretty and fuzzy her whole head was fuzzy! and then I did a picture of her and Callie and I talked about her and them I wrote a story about her and she has eight legs one two three four five six seven eight!”

Let there be no doubt that my child’s kindergarten experience is perfect for her so far. From being able to take 10 minutes to watch a spider taking in her web before school, to having a teacher who encourages curiosity and investigation, to the resources to draw and write about her discoveries. She is very lucky. We are very lucky. The barn spider is very lucky… that it didn’t try to spider me.


My dad is a “let me live free or to hell with you” kind of a guy. He’s a rugged guy. A beware of dog guy. A meet-my-daughter’s-prom-date-at-the-door-with-a-rifle kind of a guy. Actually, I take it back. He’s not a beware of dog kind of guy. He’s a “your fault if you get bit” kind of a guy. If he weren’t also a no labels kind of guy, he’d probably have a political affiliation that transcended GET OFF MY LAWN (or I’ll shoot).

arizona-dont-tread-on-me-flag(Arizona’s Dad Flag)

Apparently, he’s also the kind of guy who REALLY doesn’t want woodchucks on his property. Which led us to Sunday supper on the deck with a sharp eye to the corner behind the former chicken coop. The woodchuck was sighted several times but could never be spied in enough time. The rifles loaded with unknown ordinance stayed propped by the high-traffic screen door. Did you know my daughter is just a bit taller than a rifle?

RR is apparently quite accustomed to having a grandfather of this particular type as, during dessert (ice cream and eat your feelings forever chocolate cake), she dispassionately watched my dad calmly arise, take hold of a weapon, and fire at the woodchuck. After the crack and harumph of failure, she shook her head and said, with a somewhat rueful smile, “Oh, Pop-Pop” as if he were a doddering distant relation who you are particularly fond of but would not bring out to dinner.

My wife was noticeably pale throughout the entire visit. My mother oblivious to our gaping discomfort. If you think about it though, this captures this moment in time perfectly. My unflappable daughter and her family, somehow coping with the humid, hot, surreal summer and a man with brain cancer wielding weapons.

No doubt, dear reader, I lost you at either a) imminent woodchuck death; b) rifle placement; c) unflappable children; or d) all of the above. Perhaps you are simmering or chuckling. Rest assured that we felt all the same things and took precautions.


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