“When are you free tomorrow?” he says.
“I’ve got shit to do all day.” I say.
“That’s not what I asked. I asked when you were free.”
“Class and shit. Lifting. Why?”
“My father’s dying. You should come with me tomorrow to see him.”
“I’ll go. I’m done with everything by around 6.”
“Good” he says.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“There’s a blood clot in his heart. It might be nothing. He might die.”
“They can do surgery as a last resort...but he’s 80 fucking years old”.
“Yea, that might kill’em alone.”
“Sheri is a mess. She’s drunk and crying, saying over and over, ‘What are we going to do if he dies? He just wants to go home’. I told her…we’re going to fucking go home and live.”
“That doesn’t surprise me.”
“She’s a fucking baby. I told her, do you really think that he wants to fucking be here? Of course he wants to go home. What would you want? He wants to be either fishing with Jesus, or in his house. He sure as shit doesn’t want anyone changing his diapers for him. It’s not that complicated.”
“No it isn’t.”
“He’s either going to fucking die, or he’s going home. He sure as shit isn’t staying there.”
“It’s understandable. I wouldn’t either. It’s not the way he is.”
“I told her a couple times. My mother was laughing…and she got into an accident on the way here, ripped the bumper off or something. They said ‘We’re not going to tell him yet.’ I told’em it’s probably pretty low on his list of things he’s worried about”.
“Well, there is that whole dying thing I guess.” I say
“Exactly. You think I’m being callous?”
“No. I think you’re being realistic.”
“I thought it was funny. They couldn’t sit there and eat dinner with him, but now they’re all upset about him dying. They couldn’t stand him when he was drunk and breaking shit on their backs, but now they’re all losing it. Fucking Sheri wouldn’t stop crying” he says.
“It’s different, you know, than when Ryer died. Your old man has lived. Ryer was 22. Your father is 81. He’s been every fucking place in the world, he doesn’t want for anything, and he fought in the greatest war that the world has ever seen. The man had a purpose. See, I never did that with Ryer. People make shit up, they say, “If Ryer was here, everything would be different. They idolize him now that he’s gone. I tell’em, I say, “He was a bastard. He was a selfish prick, and an asshole to everyone he didn’t know.’ But that’s why I liked him so much. You can’t forget who they really were through all the bullshit”, I say.
“I loved that kid. I would have had him fucking live with us, and it would have been fine with me.”
“I know,” I say.
“Some of the shit I saw that old man do. He broke a fucking hockey game over my brother’s back on Christmas Day once, one of those old ones with the players. I saw Joey take some beatings that were fucking terrible. He just sucked it up and took it all. Your mother doesn’t understand it. She says my father talks about him too much, how he’s the favorite. I told her I hope he wins the fucking lottery, because nothing is ever going to make up for all that shit.”
“Well, the old man has a lot to make up for. Talking about him a lot is the least he could do…and I’m sure he knows that”.
“Of course he does. I should have beat the shit out of you like he did to us. You think your life is fucking hard?”
“Through all that, though, he still put in a sense of family. His last words, if I go there and he’s gasping and dying, will be, “Take care of the family”. That’s all he wants. There’s nothing more that he cares about. It’s not that hard.”
“No it isn’t. It’s funny. Death is really simple. Really fucking simple.”
“They all complicate it too much. I know my father like I know me. He doesn’t care which one happens, as long as he gets out of that fucking hospital. He wants to be fishing with Jesus”.
“Good man to go with.”
“I always say it’s a simple thing. Not as bad as everyone says.”
“How do you think Tyler will handle it?”
“He’ll be alright”.
“Not as bad as when I was little?”
“No. You were a whole different ballgame. He’s got a scientific mind. He’ll be able to deal with it. He won’t get as fucked up as you did about that whole thing.”
“Life is sad business sometimes”.
“Most of the time. You just fucking take care of your family. That’s all there is to it.”