Wednesday, March 7, 2007

An Imaginary Conversation with Daddy

My first Mimi Morphs was unexpectedly - and lovingly - dedicated to the funniest man I've ever known. When he's awake....

"Only daddy could snore through an oxygen mask."

The nurse on duty laughed.
"I was just wondering how he could possibly make that much noise with all that on his face," she said.
Oh, you have no idea, I thought.

I grew up with a strange affinity for the sound of locomotives barreling down train tracks: reminiscent of the earth-shattering, ground-breaking, wall-piercing snoring I learned to sleep through as a child.
"He's relatively quiet tonight," I assured her.

The soothing rhythms of my father's sleep apnea- and my unlikely affection for such afflictions - was only surpassed by the lovable rantings and cursing he so passionately bestowed upon my tender ears while his favorite college team played basketball not-to-his-satisfaction. Who am I kidding?
Never to his satisfaction.

I grew up thinking UNC-Chapel Hill's Dean Smith was a personal enemy of ours -during losing streaks - and my dad's best friend when championships were won..
I remember wondering if daddy actually conferred with him on the phone somehow during the game.

Through the door I heard his name called a lot and daddy always had such intimate and colorful words to say to him.

I was disappointed to later discover that we were not related, but not nearly as disappointed as daddy was when I told him I was not going to Chapel Hill.

Regardless, we were in bed by eight; usually just as the game came on. Snores or snarks, no one slept.
It's funny the things you remember when faced with nothing but dancing IV poles, dozens of clear tubes with green eyes, beep beep noises, and Living Will pamphlets tucked in the Gideon Bible on the side table; all nurturing, leading to and from, surrounded by, and covering up your living breathing daddy -
who fights to see another day. Another ballgame.

I'm betting that as soon as he opens his eyes (well....after the morphine button has been pushed a time or two), he'll look me square in the eye, meander that crooked grin around my heart and crack a joke.

Right now, I'd be happy with a curse.

To tell you the truth, friends, I almost didn't write this post. I'm supposed to be writing a book meme, you know. But nothing wants to spill out of this pen today but Daddy.

Earlier this week, I'd been scoping out a morph story for today's post. My outings consisted of work and hospital visits; so- true to form- I tried my best to get in trouble on the surgical wing.

I plan to tell him all of this as soon as he stops snoring and wakes up; how his daughter attempted to pick up a guy in the elevator on the ground floor (morph experiment

#1), planned to sneak in the solarium and do something that was against "the rules" (morph experiment #2), how she sat down at the grand piano in the lobby and played
"Send in the Clowns" (morph experiment #3) and how she pretended to be a hospital worker at the volunteer information desk (morph experiment #4), and last, but certainly not least, how his floppy-

hatted first-born blatantly flirted with that cute doctor who makes his rounds at 5:30. (morph experiment #5)

I think he needs to get a little stronger first and more familiar with the morphine button.

I had planned to wear a floppy hat out in a strange place for my first morph story, but had to scrap that idea because it would not have been amusing to my father in the least. Anyway, the hat story pales in comparison to the above-mentioned adventures. Don't you think?

By the way, Morph Experiment #1 and #5 were combined.
It went swimmingly.
Then he got a new doctor.Just my luck.

BP: 125/78
Respiration: 20
Heart rate: 95 

 "Well, daddy.....I finally got to play that piano downstairs," I tell him.
That's right. While families ate stale chicken salad on cardboard wheat bread and drank $2.99 bottles of water, I soothed the savage beasts in the lobby with a little Sondheim.

(imaginary conversation with daddy) "You're not supposed to play that piano, Sis. It's just for invited guests."

 "I invited myself." I tell him. "They didn't mind." Who's gonna know??!"

"Uh....everybody in the surgical waiting room, dear. Last time I checked there were sick people here, in case you haven't noticed."

BP: 165/85
Repiration: 30
Heart rate: 125

"But, Daddy, I promised my readers I'd transform myself into a ninja or something by today."

Perspiration: MINE
"You didn't play Fur Elise, did you? When you were a little girl, I learned to hate Beethoven. I always blamed him for your lack of Tarheel blue education. (snoring is louder now)Who knew you'd choose a music school far, far away?"
"If you'd had your way, I would have worn a blue jersey and squeaky tennis shoes for four years."

BP: 200/150

Respiration: beads of sweat
Heart rate: Melting

"Now, you get it."

 "Daddy, I'm 5'2" tall."
"And your point is??!"
I think someone has had too much pain medication.

He is smiling.

Visions of Tar Heel blue jello, Tar Heel blue hospital gowns, Tar Heel blue lancet strips (complete with Tar Heel blue blood) and blue cat scan dye just waiting to coarse through his tired veins.

I'll have to finish my morph adventure later, daddy, I'm thinking. It's time for you to get some rest.

My thoughts are filled with clearly marked adventures of another kind.

Being carried to the car at midnight by two strong arms that would scoop me up off the baseball bleachers,

in the night air, fast asleep -
He was coaching. I was just there to adore.

Tiptoeing through the house at 11:18 (exactly 18 minutes past my curfew and a lamb's shake closer to meeting my Maker) - hoping to hear snoring.

 Daddy's.Staring at a worn-out ragged black and white photo of a young, strong, athletic soon-to-be-scouted-by-the-Reds baseball player, with piercing dark brown eyes and a surly crooked smile. 
He opens his eyes and sees my remembering.

I was quite sure, at that moment, he'd heard my review.
I am equally sure, that when he fully regains consciousness, he'll tell a story about some crazy girl who played the forbidden piano in the hospital lobby and how it sounded strangely like Beethoven, will recount a wild dream he had about a brand new son-in-law with a UNC medical degree, and rewind to 1952 - dashing brown eyes under the lights with dreams in his head and miles and miles to go.

I stroke his hand and roll his skin between my fingers.
Still strong. Still tanned. Still my daddy's.

He smiles.

"You did great today, daddy. You're doing well. It's OK."

A sigh of relief. One more squeeze of the finger.
"Thank you," he whispered.
Another snore.

He is the child.
I am the parent.

I think Mimi has morphed.


Irene Tuazon said...

Mimi, this post moved me. It is beautifully written and very poignant. I can tell you are a Daddy's Girl just like I am. =)

Hope your father gets better very soon. He is lucky you are there to care for him and make him smile.

Have a good weekend! c",)

Lizza said...

Lovely post, Mimi. And the reversal of roles, very true. What a great daddy story. He must be very proud of you.

Hilarious ideas for Mimi Morphs in the hospital! Too bad about the doctor, though.

Mimi Lenox said...

Irene.....Thank you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lizza and JR....Thanks for the well wishes.

Bazza said...

Mimi, that is a lovely piece of writing. It is so true that, in many cases, the parent-child roles swap round in later life. It can give us a chance to say 'thank you' to our parents.
We all get to read the Gideon's Bible sometime! Best wishes and good luck.

Bond said...

Mimi: I had not found you in September of last year. You came to me with a big globe which had morphed from a blue marble - a warm smile and a brilliant idea about a month later.

Your reposting of this today allowed me to read of a time in your life I was unaware of.

The writing however, is the reason i continued to come back here day after day once our Peace Shout was over.

What a wonderful accounting of what had to be an incredibly difficult time in your life.

So glad Dad is doing better...and has forgiven you for not wrapping yourself in Tar Hell Blue.


BeckEye said...

Beautifully written! Sending out good vibes to your Dad.

I'm a Daddy's girl too...and proud. :)

Peg said...

Beautiful, Mimi...just beautiful!

Mimi Lenox said...

Thank you, Beckeye. He can use all the prayers he can get. How nice of you.

Mimi Lenox said...

To the lovely Peg - Thank you! That means a lot coming from such a strong writer as yourself.

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