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Friday, 14 October 2005
all up in the family
Now Playing: House Nation w/DJ Silver (eastvillageradio.com)

yesterday, Beth and i went by the hospital to see my grandma. she had surgery to get her gall bladder removed earlier this week. seems to be doing better, not as much discomfort. as much as i know she wants to get back to being her active self (she does more at age 83 than those considerably younger than her), i hope she takes it easy for a while. my mom will make sure of that - she's up from Virginia to keep an eye on her and was at the hospital when Beth and i got there.

yesterday was also my father's 62nd birthday. after some hesitation, i made sure to give him a call. i never liked the fact that a ten-minute phone conversation with my dad consisted of one minute of talking and nine minutes of silence. neither of us are great on the phone, so i know where i get it from. as of late, i've often thought to myself that we should be able to find more to talk about, being father and son and all. (one of the best conversations i ever had with him was two years ago on his 60th birthday, his words fueled by too much gin so the truth had no choice but to come out. i really will have to share that story someday...) plus the rain and the job have had me in a very foul mood lately and i just didn't feel like going through that last night. even so, i called him anyway.

while i was at the hospital last night, i told mom how i felt. she suggested that his ability to recall memory and thought isn't what it used to be, and she noticed that one of the last times she talked to him. i never thought of that before, but when i talked to him last night, for the first time i heard it, and a lot of things started to make sense. Beth talked with him also and confirmed the same: it takes him a while to search for the right words. mom said that she wouldn't be surprised if he ended up getting Alzheimer's like his mother. while the doctors say that it's not hereditary, ma dukes doesn't believe that's the case. obviously, i hope that doesn't happen, but i wouldn't be completely and totally surprised if it did.

i'm not sure how far back substance abuse goes with my father, but i know enough to know that when i was a young boy playing in the back seat of his green Cadillac Eldorado, he was freebasing with his friends in the front seat. i saw that with my own eyes. i saw the burn marks on the pipe sometime before that and wondered what it was used for. outside of hard drugs, he smoked cigarettes for many years. a cigarette was like an appetizer that goes along with your evening meal for him. it was like that for a lot of my relatives on my father's side. kind of a shock that i never picked up the habit, but not really: when you have to hang up your clothes in the garage after holiday functions because your outfit absorbed enough second hand smoke to make people mistake you for a chimmney sweep, it's somewhat difficult to find smoking glamorous after that.

so i think about one of my intellectual comedic heroes...Richard Pryor. i think about the abuse he put his body through regarding cocaine and how upfront he was about it with his audience in his comedy routines. i also think about the fact that he has multiple sclerosis now, which has advanced to the point where he can hardly speak, if at all. while i don't think that drugs are a direct cause, it is possible that such substance intake over a prolonged period of time can break down a body's defenses. maybe the same thing's happening with my father. i don't think it's just age. my other grandmother (my dad's mother) was as sharp as a tack until the Alzheimer's hit.

and here i am, having the nerve to feel old before my time at 31 years of age (going on 32). riiiiiiight. suuuuuuuuuuure you're old.

Posted by macedonia at 4:18 PM EDT
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