Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunshine State My Ass

Actually, my family moved to Florida 26 years ago and our area never got a direct hit.

I flew to Florida for the long weekend. The leg from Burbank to Dallas/Fort Worth was rather uneventful, but once in the terminal at DFW, I noticed two things. First, the Arrivals/Departures software they use apparently runs on Windows. How could I tell?
Well, that's not a very clear picture, but I was trying to be vaguely surreptitious with my mediocre camera phone, but trust me, it was a Windows "Uh, sometink iz brokn" box. Oddly, it only appeared in the Arrivals screen, which kept updating beneath, and it was only on one set of screens I saw. Another set further down the same terminal showed no such error message.

At any rate, after ascertaining that my connecting flight left from a completely different terminal, I decided to use the restroom before getting on the tram. I did a double take after seeing the orange sign in this picture:
I stood there wondering exactly why they would build a women's room that experienced severe weather. I've seen some scary ones, to be sure, but I've never actually seen a bathroom with its own tornadoes. I carefully went in, but seeing no people getting carried on cyclones and thrown against the ceiling, I decided to risk it. But I didn't linger.

During the flight to Florida, I sat next to The Most Important Businessman In The World. The one whose elbows stick over the armrests while he's using his laptop. The one who turns on his cell phones, yes, plural, when we haven't even landed yet because he has to check on some important deal. The one who leaps from his seat as soon as the plane lands, like that's going to get him off the plane any faster when we're in, hello, row 23.

Um, if he was so important, why was he sitting in coach?

Anyway, I hate Florida in the summer. It's like walking around in a swamp, and that's when you're actually above the water level. I've avoided summers there for 17 years. Only something of great import could have changed that, and so it was.

My father is dying.

He has lung cancer, which wasn't diagnosed until it had already spread to the brain, twice. The second tumor caused bleeding in the brain, which makes it very difficult for my father to speak, and also robs him of much physical strength and motor control.

There aren't really any options now, except to make him as comfortable as possible. Which means if he wants chocolate pudding for every meal, that's what my mother is going to give him.

I can't say we've been particularly close, not for a very long time, but he is my father. And no one should have to go this way.

I only heard him say about half a dozen complete sentences while I was there. Usually the best he can manage is "yes" or "no," if that. But after one of his physicians left, I leaned over and asked him why his doctors all looked like they were 12 years old. He told me, "You look like you're twelve years old."

That's my father. Of course, I will probably always be 12 years old, or 5, or 3, or a baby to him. Because he's my father.

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