“What do you mean you have nothing until January? Thanksgiving’s this week! It’s not even December and every appointment you have is booked until January?” I stopped mid-bite while wrangling my cell phone off of SPEAKER and to my ear, and dropped my pizza. It missed the plate on my lap and hit the carpet face down.
Surely, she was kidding.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” The neurology office scheduler’s soprano voice did sound frustrated. But, I’ve no idea if she was annoyed for me or at me. (Probably at. Like most people.) “This usually happens at the end of the year, everyone trying to get in.”
“But this is an emergency. My father no longer recognizes his house.”
“I understand. Still, January sixth is the soonest I have. Shall I put you down?”
Was I just crazy, thinking that something this serious would light a fire under people? Obviously. An 84-year-old man suddenly not knowing where he was, thinking the hallway of his 50-years-lived-in house is some unknown apartment building corridor, that all our bedrooms — including his — are different apartments in said building and we are surrounded by unknown neighbors inside the house was something that could simply be put off, downplayed, I guess.
So, that’s what I replied. “I guess.”
Basic questions she asked to finish scheduling the appointment are all in the wind. Can’t recall them.
After the call, I stared at the nearest wall as the upturned pepperoni slice by my foot lost its heat.
Keeping Daddy from leaving the house on his own steam last night had been close to a never-ending job. Didn’t matter how many times we led him to each room, showed him family photos on the walls and many of the things he’d treasured for an era — the massive china hutch he’d shipped Mama from Asia in the 70s, the solid wood kitchen cabinets and island that he’d built for her with his own two hands in the 80s, all the wallpaper and various floor coverings she’d installed in just about every room with her crafty self during the 90s and 2000s, to name a few. Nothing convinced the man he was where he was supposed to be.
“Oh, come on. Y’all can’t be serious. You’re saying we’re home? Who else is here with us?”
“No one. Just you, me, and Bro. That’s it. You’re a little confused, but it’s going to be okay.”
“What about the other apartments, then?”
“There are no apartments. This is your house. Your rooms. Please trust me, Dad.”
“This is starting to really piss me off, now.” He’d looked at me with suspicion for the first time in our lives, starting nervous cramps in my gut, throwing the little girl inside me into spasms or something. “Things better get right and we’d better be leaving here soon. I mean it. You hear me?”
Loud and clear.
Bro and I had laid low this morning, tip-toed around like skittish cats, let Dad sleep for as long as he wanted. Lunchtime was past now, though, so no matter how jumpy I was, checking on him was imperative. I stood there, at his closed door, for a moment. He was too quiet. God. What if he got past us while we slept (if you could call what we’d done sleeping)? What if he’s gone?
At least he would only get so far on foot, what with me and Bro having the car keys. But, the dangers to unprotected elders even in their own neighborhood were countless.
I busted into Daddy’s room like I was on fire.
Scared the crap out of him.
“What’s the hurry, Speedy!” He laughed, turned his TV off, got up off his bed. “I slept like the dead. Did y’all? I’m gon’ fix me a little cup a’ coffee. You want one?”
Really? “In the kitchen? You… know where that is?”
Stone-face was nowhere to be seen. “I think I got confused or something last night. I don’t know. Let’s go get that coffee, maybe a little Raisin Bran.” I loved the familiar look of his eyes softening on me, the comfortable way my doting father patted my shoulder.
I didn’t like the lukewarm dread gripping my heart in its bony fingers.
What do I do now. What do I do. After coffee. After cereal and milk. With Thanksgiving at my Aunt’s place coming up day after tomorrow. I have no appetite. What do I do.
Internet-search his symptoms.
Find another doctor with a quickness. (January 6th, my ass.)
Hold us together.