My parents’ house now needs to be gone through room by room, to sort out what we want to keep, donate, sell, recycle or discard. That’s what I’ve been up to for the last few months.
It was hard, at first, going to the empty house. It is so, so quiet. Unnervingly quiet. Then just as I’m used to the sound of my own breathing, Dad’s talking watch will shout out from whatever corner it’s stashed in: “The time. Is two. O’clock. P.M.” and I damn near jump out of my skin.
If the weather allows, I open all the windows to get the air moving around. My parents were not fresh air people, and some of the windows haven’t been opened since the first Clinton administration. Just today I noticed that the house is beginning to smell different, on first opening the door. This is a good thing.
I have been pretty businesslike about most of this, but once in a while something will take me by surprise and I’ll get a hit of some emotion or other. Discarding my father’s ostomy supplies, for instance, put me into a sudden rage. He suffered so, with that. The ostomy, while no fun, maybe wouldn’t have been so awful on its own, but being blind made it a relentless trial. I would say his last couple of years were miserable on this basis alone.
I’m angry that he suffered. I’m angry that my mother was unwilling or unable to do more to help him with the day-to-day maintenance. I’m really, really angry that there was never any good way to handle middle-of-the-night ostomy leaks. It was very difficult to get anyone on call for that, and Dad spent many sleepless nights waiting for help. See again being angry that Mom didn’t do more, and there is plenty to rage about.
That’s all over now, and I can’t help but be glad for him that he’s on the other side of it.
I let the talking watch ambush me for a few months, but last week, I finally threw it away. I know what time it is, and wherever Dad is or isn’t he doesn’t need to.