Tuesday, June 03, 2008


My mom is a senior citizen and she is very ill.

My brother almost flew in from the west coast. We decided against it, however, because right now there’s really nothing he can do, plus we were afraid that his presence here would just make my mom more aware of the seriousness of her illness.

This is a bizarrely tough time for my brother and he’s not even sick.

My brother’s wife is still recovering from two near fatal illnesses of her own. My brother is the older brother, the number one son—it is his nature to want to do things, he always wants to put things right. But for months there has been nothing he could do for his wife except pray that she toughed her way through her difficulties. And now that my brother’s wife seems to be through the worst of her tribulations, my brother must deal with his helplessness, again, as our mother tries to tough out her illness.

No matter how old my brother and I both get, we still tend to see ourselves just as two kids from the south side. We’re used to dealing with our own issues, our own problems, but when we see people close to us struggling neither of us handles it well. Normally my brother and I appreciate the distances in our family, the spaces between us. But I think right now my brother and I both wish our family were consolidated on the west coast, where it would be easiest for everyone to help out everyone else during times of illness.

Oh man.

Just a few days ago the only things I was worried about were Spring planting and French Open tennis.

Yesterday’s post began with me telling a story about a woman I know named Ruth. When I posted that I hadn’t seen Ruth for three or four weeks. As things happen, yesterday afternoon I visited Ruth and we had a chance to catch up a little. It turns out her husband is terribly ill, just got out of the hospital and doctors can’t even pin down exactly what is wrong with him. And her mother also is terribly ill.

Just a few days ago the only things I was worried about were Spring planting and French Open tennis.

Now it’s this stuff that makes an old kid from the south side feel like he’s watching half a dozen people he loves treading water in the middle of the Pacific without a boat and shark fins are bobbing up, circling . . .

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