An excerpt from a piece-in-progress that yet has no title and less organization. Just a collection of scenes, so far.
We stand in the kitchen. He can’t believe I brought five bananas, as if it’s too many. My mom says he doesn’t eat enough as it is, having only rice for lunch some days. He puts the bananas in a wicker basket and places the basket on the top of the fridge, the same place it’s been since I was a kid.
“Did you go golfing today?” Tuesday is his day for golfing. In the winter, his senior version of a foursome golfs courses from around the world at an indoor, electronic golf complex. Monday and Wednesday are bowling days. Uncle Harold picks him up now that Grandpa can’t drive and any combination of family and elderly friends might meet him at the bowling alley. This is not to mention the fact that he knows every employee and regular bowler at the alley by name, well, he has since forgotten most of their names because of the aphasia. But he knows them, still.
“Oh, no, no. I didn’t golf today. You see, I was supposed to. Henry and George and I, we were going to go golfing, but I called and cancelled. I was too worn out.”
“Last night, you see, I didn’t sleep very much…” And, not to be insensitive, but he launches into his diatribe about lying awake every night and then being dead-tired the next day. So tired, in fact, that he cancels the things he loves and the activities that keep him social and active. It’s a horrible cycle. But I can’t find a soft spot in my rock hard soul to be empathetic about it because any suggestion I try to give he brushes off.
Tonight, he actually laughs me out of the house. At the end of his venting session about sleep, I suggest an activity before bed. Because, here I am on the early side of eight o’clock at night standing in a mostly-dark kitchen with pajama-clad Grandpa. At my house, we just ate dinner. All the lights are on, we’re watching hockey on TV, the place is alive. Grandpa’s surely been ready to go to bed for over an hour, and he’ll be there as soon as he can shoo me out the front door. So the man who’s basically going to bed at dinnertime after doing nothing all day wonders why he can’t sleep. I’m no doctor but I offer my six hundredth suggestion anyway.
“Maybe we should all come over for a movie and some popcorn around this time one night, maybe seven o’clock or so. That way, you wouldn’t be thinking about going to bed so early. Then, when we leave, you’ll be more tired and maybe it will be easier –”
“Ho, ho, ha, honey. I don’t think so.” He puts a hand on my shoulder, lost in a patronizing belly laugh, as if I’m the foolish one, here.
“You have to try different things, right?” I say to a still-laughing old man, not giving up.
“I suppose, dear, I suppose.”