Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sibling Assignment #82: The Cable Guy Helps Dad Die

Wow! Where to start? This week's assignment from InlandEmpireGirl gives us three siblings an almost limitless number of events in our childhood home to write about. Here's the assignment:

Finish this sentence." I will never forget the time _________________happened at 516 W. Cameron. Remember? It was a huge disaster."
Silver Valley Girl mixes marriage and the memorable Mt. St. Helen's volcano blast, here, and InlandEmpireGirl explores why she never became a barista, here.

When it comes to life at 516 W. Cameron, it's hard to tell what's worse: disaster or the fear of disaster.

When Dad was dying in May of 1996, everything was always on the brink of small disaster.

Would the oxygen arrive? Did Dad get his medicine? Dad's pain is increasing. What do we do?

Harry's coming.

Con and Jeni are coming.

Donnie and Rosie are coming over.

So are Ted and Dorothy.

Mouse called. He's coming over.

Silver Valley Girl and PKR are coming soon from Meridian. So are their girls. Where are they going to stay?

More flowers arrived. Where shall I put them?

When are Jerry and Corrine coming by?

Dad wants a liverwurst sandwich.

There's Marilyn and Rick. Dad'll love seeing them, too.

Dad says a Popsicle will taste good. He wants orange. All we have is banana and grape. I'll go get some. Hurry!

How will John Stockton and Karl Malone match up against Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in the NBA Western Conference finals? Will the Jazz finally go to the NBA finals?

Do you think Dad can be awake when the smelter stacks get blown up?

What time does Betty Mercado come by?

Dying magnifies life. We had more love, vitality, tension, sadness, noise, uncertainty, hushed tones, tales, fatigue, imagination, acts of golden rule goodwill, and laughter packed into 516 W. Cameron during those last three weeks of Dad's life than that old house had ever seen.

I don't know how many days before he died it was when Dad asked if he could have our little television we used in the basement set up in his bedroom.

Dad loved drinking at Jack and Dan's on Hamilton St. in Spokane and loved that Jack's son John Stockton ran the show for the Utah Jazz and if the Jazz could get over the hump of the Sonics, they would play for the NBA championship.

Dad wanted to watch John Stockton, but had become too ill to leave his room to watch the Jazz in the living room.

"I don't know why he wants that television now. He sleeps during those games more than he watches them."

"I know, Mom, but it won't hurt anything to put the television in there. I'll set it up."

"You? Since when could you do something like that?"

I took a deep breath. Mom meant no harm. She didn't want more disruption. No more change. Dad was dying. Everything was changing. Couldn't we just leave the televisions the way they were.

I was caught. Mom didn't want me fiddling with the television cable, especially since my track record as a fix-it-up guy around the house was pretty piss poor.

But, I had it in my head that even if Dad slept through the Jazz games, he's die better, happier, more peacefully if John Stockton was in the room with him.

I'm pretty sure Mom was worried I'd mess up the Soaps.

I defied Mom. I felt like a male Antigone.

A force beyond my control or understanding welled up inside me. I carried the little television upstairs. I surveyed the cable situation. Zeus sent Athena to aid me. I decided I knew what to do.

Mom paced.

I arrived home from Ace with a little doomahickey I could plug one cable into on one side and two cables into on the other and I unhooked this wire and plugged in that one and set everything up, satisfied I had everything in order.

There were two seconds left. The NBA championship was on the line. The game was tied and I had two free throws.

I choked.

I did something wrong. None of the televisions received a signal.


"What'd you do? I told you to leave the tv's alone."

I'm surprised the planet didn't suddenly collapse from oxygen deprivation, I took such a deep breath.

"I'll figure it out, Mom. Please. Please. Leave. Me. Alone." I was shaking.

I took a step back. I surveyed. I can't remember what my mistake was, but I saw it. I fixed it. All the televisions worked. Erica was as cunning as ever on "All My Children".

I don't know at exactly what point in the series Dad had the television in his room. I do know this:

On Tuesday, May 28th, Utah was down 3-1 and beat Seattle on the road 98-95. The smelter stacks came down the day before. Dad missed that.

I know that on Thursday, May 30th Utah went home to Salt Lake City and beat the Sonics 118-83 to send the series to a game 7.

I remember telling Dad the series was tied. He could no longer speak, but he gurgled his approval.

I know Dad died on Saturday, June 1st.

He never knew that Utah returned to Seattle on Sunday, June 2nd and lost Game 7, 90-86.

1 comment:

Inland Empire Girl said...

You captured the details very well of one of those times in our lives we will never forget. Every time I see John Stockton sitting in the stands at a Zags game, I think of Dad and that time.