June 3, 2007

Possession

The language of illness is one of possession: The father had a stroke. The father had a heart attack. The father had a six-month hospital stay during which the father had brain surgery, quadruple bypass surgery, and attendant physical and occupational therapies.

Hear the language, its sad lies: as if the father controls the debilitation, as if he's powerful enough to hold it in his hands, throw it out the window into the anonymous streets of Indianapolis.

*

The son on the phone today with the father:

"Let's face the facts, dad. You can do more for yourself. Like, brush your teeth. Comb your hair, shave your face. Do the laundry."

In his head, the son hears "the goddamn laundry."

"Yes, I can," the father says, though he doesn't let hope creep into his voice. He wants his son to stay on the phone as long as possible. He wants to kill the boredom that crowds the room, sleeps with him in the hospital bed, wakes him up to watch endless re-runs of Roseanne and The Golden Girls.

"I need you, dad," the son continues. He thinks the conversation is real. Stupid boy, he says he wants his father back.

"I think you should have let me die," the father says. "I think it's time you look for someone else."

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