Yesterday morning, I filled up the gas tank, headed over to Dad’s and loaded up the car. Two large checked bags, two carry-ons, a purse and a walker, one Dad and one sister. The drive into Ohare is much easier these days now that the Interstate is three lanes most of the way in. Despite powdery, blowing snowfall, we made it with plenty of time to spare. Dad and I chatted on the drive in, Nina sat in the back playing with her phone and taking pictures.
Ohare doesn’t allow much time to unload the car before security comes over to admonish you, so I opened the trunk, grabbed the bags and set them on the sidewalk while Nina helped Dad with his walker. We hugged and kissed, and before I had time to cry, I jumped back in the car, just as a guy with a baton motioned me to get moving.
The snow was more intense on the way home, but traffic was light and I made good time, miserable and weepy the entire way. I got back just in time to make it to my appointment with the foot doctor (the cyst is still a thing). My neighbor’s car is not working, so I gave her a ride to the auto parts place and then to the grocery. As I finally drove into my garage and turned the key, I experienced an odd sense of what it must feel like when a balloon suddenly deflates. All the adrenalin of the past three weeks just whooshed out, leaving me numb and exhausted.
The van from the assisted living hotel picked them up at the airport, so they didn’t have to schlep the luggage themselves. Nina texted me when they landed, and sent pictures of Dad in his new place as soon as they arrived. He had already turned on the Yankees channel to watch. I got more pictures today…Dad at lunch with his table mates (all retirees—a lawyer, a surgeon and a psychologist) and then playing poker with some of the guys. I think he will fit in just fine.
This morning, after I dropped my neighbor off at work, I went back over to the condo, cleared out the refrigerator, took out all the trash, turned the thermostat down and left for the last time for a while. I have the keys and will stop in every so often to make sure everything is OK, but it will never be the same. Really, it hasn’t ever been the same since Mom died in 2013. This chapter’s over, but I’m reluctant to put down the book.
So many conflicted feelings. Sadness for Dad’s absence, missing MOM terribly, happy that Nina and I have developed a wonderful relationship, delighted that Dad is already adapting well, excited to be going to New York this summer to visit. Happy that I could be here for both MOM and Dad when they most needed someone. The time spent with each of them has been such a wonderful gift. I’m grateful to have had the privilege.
Au revoir, Dad. See you this summer.