In the ever present now things will always rise and fall, they will ebb and flow, yet now and then one of those waves i wrote about many moons ago will catch me off guard and bring feelings and emotions bubbling to the surface, it can happen in the most unexpected places and unexpected times. Yes most of the time i can see them coming, certain days on a calendar, certain times of the day, one does not forget but one does learn to deal with it in order to go on.
I'm still at my gig as an indentured servant to the wealthy, the responsible sort and the elderly who take the current pandemic seriously. I've had more than a few conversations with people in there late 70s/early 80s and i find i enjoy it. I see their thirst for some human interaction not done over a phone or computer and there is a part of me that understands that i need it as much as they do. I drop off their groceries and talk, listen to their stories about kids and grandkids, maybe talk about politics depending on the sign in their yard. For the most part i don't see many of the people using this service but when i do it's usually someone in the aforementioned age group. I always have my mask on and if they need me to actually bring things into their place i do, they probably don't realize i'm as old as i am because as one elderly woman told me, "you're aging well sweetheart." I got a good laugh out of it and wondered for a moment if she wasn't hitting on me.
But this is about those waves, the ones that catch you by surprise and leave you trying to catch your breath and retain your composure. It happened yesterday, i took a batch and immediately thought i'd regret it. Having done this gig long enough i can tell when something is going to be a pain in the ass and the trick to picking batches is minimizing the effort while maximizing the pay. Granted this gig runs my ass and when i go for a full day, meaning 5-6 hours, i'm usually spent. And so i took a double batch, meaning two orders at once, with a low number of items, which usually means i can knock it out quick. The second order was only two items, a pie and some cat food and when i read the note with it i should have turned towards the water and looked for the wave.
There was a note for each item. The woman who placed the order stated that the cat food was superfluous, added on to reach the minimum required and i could refund it if i wanted. The pie, on the other hand, was for her father, a strawberry rhubarb pie, it was his favorite and it was his birthday. She desperately wanted to get it for him and if they didn't have it out front could i ask to see if there were any in back. Reading the note is when the wave hit. I thought of my father, not something unusual as i think about my father alot, but this one struck me for some reason.
They didn't have the pie. They would bake some later but unfortunately the gig economy does not allow me to wait for it. For some reason it just hit me, i thought of staying at my father's old place after we had moved him to his assisted living home, a place where he laughed about being around all these old people. I thought about bringing him a pizza from his favorite joint in order to get him to eat. Bile Duct cancer was a strange thing, it usually didn't kill the afflicted, they usually starved to death, not eating because the taste of food became strange or "fuzzy" as my dad had said. As i stood in the store i could feel my eyes filling with tears. Suddenly i was doing all i could to hold my shit together. Since i'm in there often one of the women who works there asked if there was something i needed, if i was alright, i'm fine i said, just trying to find a replacement item. I walked to an empty aisle and wiped the tears from my eyes and got my shit together. It didn't stop there. I found myself having to hold it together until i was done with the delivery, hoping i wouldn't see the woman who had ordered the pie for her father.
In the two and a half years since my dad died i've learned more about that day. I remember talking to my sister that day while following the Breadwinner as she ambled the aisles of Target. My sis said our father was tired and not to call him until later. I never got that chance. It was my sister who would call me less than three hours later to tell me had had fallen. I knew. What came to light later was the fact he told the nurse he didn't need his meds that morning, that he was okay without it. That he was doing laundry when he died. That most likely he was going to change that laundry when his heart failed. As with all people at assisted living homes he had a buzzer to hit that he wore in case of an emergency and i often wonder if he thought about hitting it and then thought better of it. Understanding the end game, having just walked by the pictures of his three grandsons and his children, that it had been a good run and that it was okay to go. Yes it's a myth that i've concocted in my mind but knowing my old man like i did it seems plausible. He was the most dignified man i knew and for some reason the gut tells me this is true, that he went out on his own terms and not in a hospital bed hooked up to machines, in a way it makes me happy.
And so when i dropped off the pie at the front door i quickly hit the "Order Complete" button, made for the car and pulled down the street before i saw anyone. I pulled over and took a deep breath, i smiled as i whispered "i love you Pops" to the universe, then added, "wherever you are", and then drove on thinking about how my dad would have had a good natured laugh at that tall and sensitive son of his, a quality we both had but he was better at concealing. A quality i never recognized in him until i was older, until we went through the trials of his wife walking out and the war of divorce... i miss my old man but in my loose and minute knowledge of the universe i understand, i still talk to him frequently even if that is really only talking to myself... but those waves...