Wednesday, June 23, 2004

2 star beings from Orion, history, why

06-22-04 Mayatime: 7 Cib 19 Zotz (Portal)

So it begins.

Yesterday, it was official. The Beings from Orion are stealing my father’s brain.

(Only I could be funny at a time like this.)

All the times my mother & I, only half-joking, said, “you have to use your brain or it will atrophy,” we never knew how right we were. That is the official symptom, lack of words notwithstanding: brain atrophy.

Well, if a muscle atrophies, you work out and eat protein and build it back up. I guess that once a brain atrophies, you’re pretty much shit out of luck.

I think of all the stuff my dad used to know. Every car he sold, who he sold it to. He could recognize those cars on the road, recognize the owners if he saw them at the bank or Stop & Shop. I’ve never had that memory for faces. And then once he retired, he just went stupid. Maybe we waited too long to bring him to the doctors. But I honestly didn’t think someone’s brain COULD atrophy. Well, we learn something new every day, right? And it isn’t always pleasant.

Or maybe it wasn’t his fault. Maybe, no matter what he did, his brain was going to shrivel up. Damn those Orions. (What the hell do you call people from Orion? Orionians?). I have to laugh, or else I’d cry. I’ll probably do both a lot.

Thought that I could write this, and maybe someday publish it and someone else could learn. Maybe I’ll start a BLOG. I wonder if I can BLOG on my own web page? I’ll have to look into that. I guess I could just make a new page and add to it daily.

Ironic that next week the movie The Notebook comes out. I better bring a whole box of Kleenex. That’s going to be tough. Beth’s nice enough to say she will wait to see it. But it’s her favorite book, one of the few she’s ever read. It’s selfish of me to keep her from seeing it. And I’m too selfish to tell her to go without me.

The gods (or the beings from Orion) can take our loved ones from us in many ways. If they take a person quickly-heart attack, car accident–we are angry at not having the chance to say goodbye. When they take a person slowly–cancer, Alzheimer’s–we are angry that we have to watch the person suffer. I think this insidious stealing of my father’s brain has to be the worse of all. How do I say goodbye? How will I know when he’s gone? See, and now I cry.

When my grandpa had cancer my senior year of high school, it was awful to watch him be so sick and in pain. But through it all he stayed my grandpa. I could talk to him. And there was a limit on his pain–it would only last so many weeks, and it would be over. And that was how it went. He hung on long enough to see me graduate from high school (although he couldn’t attend) but regretted bitterly he’d never see me graduate from college. (I felt his presence, so maybe he did after all.)

My dad isn’t in any pain. I’m not sure he even understands. Is that a blessing? Here’s what happened. My father retired two years ago. He was unhappy selling cars. I honestly don’t think he’d been happy since he got fired from Valenti’s. That was a nasty thing they did. He had worked there 20 years. They had a party for him, with cake and everything. We still had leftover cake in the fridge when they let him go. He put all his salesman of the month and year plaques–and he had a lot of them–in boxes in the basement. Eventually he threw them away. I wanted him to save them.

After he left Valenti’s (This was when I was in college) he moved around half a dozen different dealerships: Harte Chevrolet, Alderman Cadillac, Barbarino Nissan-Kia, Meriden Hyundai...well maybe not half a dozen. Or maybe I forgot a couple. He liked selling Chevys, that was his thing. We were all surprised when he started selling Hyundais and really liked them-–liked them enough to BUY one, to buy a non-Chevy, non-American car. Now, of course, my husband & I have one too; they are much better cars then they used to be. Anyway, he retired about 2 years ago. He liked Hyundais, but they had a salesman rating system and he got burned a few times–customers had to take a survey and if the salesman got less than perfect marks, his future commissions on ALL sales would be effected. That kind of sucked-they should have dropped the lowest one. Someone gave him all the worse marks possible. That hurt his feelings.

My dad was never a high pressure car salesman. He was easy going. If anything, his fault was always over-explaining (yes, I inherited that). Very careful man, my dad. He’d highlight all the places on the contracts for people to sign, for instance. He has this extremely neat block-style all-caps printing and he would fill out all the forms by hand. Of course now, when a car is sold they push a button and a computer spits out a completed contract. Maybe that’s when he started to forget. When he didn’t have to do everything for himself anymore. Maybe it was the repetition of filling out forms over and over with the same information that imprinted everything into his head. I guess I’ll never know.

So after he retired, he really starting getting, well, stupid. That sounds harsh and mean, and it probably is. He’ll get into a groove and that’s all he wants to talk about. Like his raspberry bushes–he’ll go on and on about them. He probably still would–we just don’t bring them up anymore.

My mother and I thought it was because he doesn’t do anything. We are both avid readers, reading at least five books a week. My dad only reads the paper, and the paper he reads is USA Today, widely reviled as being written to an extremely low reading level (sixth grade? fourth grade?). He used to collect coins, and read coin magazines, but I don’t think he does that anymore. But that’s it, that’s the sum of his interests. And the cat, of course. We lost the Alf-dog (hotdog) and the Patches (cat) and that was hard on him. Patches was a Father’s Day present from me–hmm, 17 years ago? (And what a Father’s Day present he got this year-a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.)-- after Streaker (blue point Siamese) died from feline AIDS. (Right after Grandpa died–Grandpa loved Streaker and it’s always comforted me to think that they’re in Heaven together.) We got Patches when Alf was a puppy, at any rate. And now they’ve got Jasper the Bastard (seal point Siamese), who was an anniversary present from me in 2002 after Alf died. I thought maybe Patches wouldn’t be so sad if she had a new friend, but she didn’t even live a year after Alf went to dog heaven. And despite the amount of money I spent on him, Jasper hates me (except when he’s alone in the house, then I’m his bestest friend). But he loves my parents, and he’s their cat, not mine.

My dad got a non-thinking job as a crossing guard after he retired. I used to drive by and say hello and sometimes brought him a coffee–his “corner” was on my way to the bank. He didn’t like the job much. He did that for a little over a year, then Meriden Hyundai hired him back as a part time go-fer, which is what he wanted to do when he retired. You know, go to Motor Vehicle, bring cars to get washed, whatever. But he got fired a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago. (Time is fluid for me, I’ve been unemployed for over a year and a half.) I wonder if they’ll feel bad when they find out he has Alzheimer’s? (1350)

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