No Day But Today

Some days my highest achievement is sucking breath in and pushing it out again. Yesterday was one such day; it also illustrates beautifully the logic behind my aversion to making plans.
8 a.m.-ish.
I wake up and screw around on the net, not even out of bed yet. My thoughts for the day include replacing the radiator in my car (OK, I wasn’t actually going to do it, but Tom was), changing my oil, maybe even the brake pads, and -most importantly- fixing the cigarette lighter in my car so I could FINALLY use my iTrip. I was actually feeling ambitious for a day off and had promised to go up to the airport and work on the banner plane with some of the guys.
8:20 a.m. -ish
I love it when my mom calls and there’s a pause after I answer the phone. After 34 years, I also know that when, after the pause, she starts our conversation by telling me where she’s going, something unpleasant has happened. So when she opens with, “I’m on my way home now,” I know something’s up. And I was right. They took my dad to the hospital because they thought he might be having a heart attack. His pressure was through the roof and they gave him nitroglycerin and morphine.
“But,” my mother says “he’s very concerned about you and doesn’t want you to drive down here.” (It typically takes 40 minutes to drive to Clearwater). Don’t even get me started on this. I lie and agree with her and ask her to tell me when he gets into a room and please keep me posted.
9:00 a.m.-ish
I take my car to Tom’s house so he can get the radiator done and I can get to the hospital without having to stop and add water. But when I scoot under the car to change the oil I see coolant coating… well, everything. Of COURSE. Dad isn’t in a room yet, so I change the oil, add fluid, and hope for the best. I swing home, add water to the radiator (isn’t that why I fixed the radiator and isn’t it disturbing that I can lose a quart of coolant in 14 blocks?).
“Please don’t come up here, Cath, your father is very worried about you driving!”
“Tell him to lay off the bacon and drop a couple of pounds and I won’t freak out when he has chest pains, but until then I’m coming up.”
Makes you want to have a daughter just like me, doesn’t it? Try to understand, my dad could be having a heart transplant and all I would hear is “Your dad’s having a little procedure; it may even be outpatient, don’t drive up, you don’t want to leave the dog alone.” That’s if they even told me first. More than once my cousin Michele has called me and, in the course of conversation, asked me if my dad was feeling better or how his doctor appointment went and I feel like Lizzie Borden as I admit I have no clue what she’s talking about. She’s 1300 miles away, I’m a 40 minute drive, and I’m their daughter, so why the hell should I know what’s going on, right?
“Well, we didn’t want to worry you,” my mom will say in defense. Yeah, because finding out about my dad’s pancrea-ectomy or whatever from my cousin will accomplish THAT.
Sure, if you don’t know my family you can laugh and think I’m exaggerating, but my godfather is the same damn way, and his kids (my cousins) know you can’t make this shit up. They’ve got the same model, just a later year. My model has a few more miles, theirs has a better radio, but essentially we’re all driving the same damn thing around.
Speaking of driving, I point the car towards Clearwater and decide it might not be a bad idea to call the shop and see how much a new water pump would cost. Two reasons: in Toyotas, the water pump and timing belt are all one happy package, it sucks to try and do yourself, and I don’t think I should wait for the water pump to go completely which, I know from experience, means the timing belt will go as well.
Good thing I call, too, because the engine temperature appears to be approaching Mercury or, at the very least, Venus. I am on borrowed time, there’s no way in hell this car will make it to Clearwater, and I don’t want to call anyone to come get me, so I run a few yellowish lights to get to Autoway (there’s logic there, when I let the car idle the temp goes nuts) and coast into the red lane on borrowed time.
3 p.m.-ish
I have to wait on a rental car but I am well on my way now. I get to the hospital by 4. I HATE north county traffic, I swear to Christ every stupid old lady driving habit shown in movies played itself out in front of me on East Bay Drive yesterday. It’s a miracle I don’t get out of the car and beat someone to death.
4 p.m.-ish
I feel like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, I really do. I started out with a yellow scooter, then a Toyota Tercel, and now I’m in a Forerunner, something that has more square footage than my house. Couple that with the fact it’s taking FOUR HOURS to make a 40 minute trip and it really is amazing I didn’t shoot somebody who, in all probability, deserved it.
4:05 p.m.-ish
“Hi, Cath, why did you call my brother?” Gosh golly gee I don’t know, maybe because THEY THOUGHT YOU HAD A HEART ATTACK. I try and remember that my parents have had a rough day and I shouldn’t yell at them right this second. Instead I take it out on anyone I talk to who isn’t a) family or b) not a healthcare professional (NEVER yell at nurses and doctors, that’s almost as bad as fucking with the people who bring you food in restaurants).
So I have this cool shirt Tom made on CafePress, and I’m wearing it. I walk in and my dad squints and looks, reads the shirt out loud, and this is how I know he’s doped up: he neither looks at me in disgust nor laughs hysterically. Instead, he looks at my mother who -and you REALLY need to know my mom to appreciate this- closes her eyes briefly and says, “It means when a man can’t get an erection.” Now, I sense, is not the time to make a joke about whether that’s a “man” or not. I’m still too stunned that my mother actually used the word “erection” in a sentence that doesn’t relate to construction.
From there the conversation kind of gets away from me. Not five minutes after my dad gave me a hard time about calling his brother and worrying him, I hear these words come out of his mouth, preceded by a large sigh and the sound of him climbing up on the cross:
“You know, none of my brothers have called me other than Jerry.”
Really, is there any way to win?
From there we talk about my car. When he finds out I have brought it to a repair shop, my father while, still hooked up to the telemetry, looks at me sadly and says, “You know, you can still ask ME to work on your car.”
I look at my mother who is red with laughter.
“Well, I’m sorry, you were fibrillating at the time,” I say. At this point I can only imagine what the guy in the next bed is thinking. Shortly after that I go back to their house with my mom and then swing back by Morton Plant to see my dad again.
6:30 p.m.-ish
I head home and, after talking to some non-family members on the phone who probably think that the Estrogen Queen Pod People have replaced the woman they once knew, I decide that it’s probably best that I not use the phone anymore tonight. If you called last night and I didn’t answer, please don’t take it personally. I’ll get in touch with you all today.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.