Well, my house is woefully empty again. Dad left last Saturday at a very respectable 9:30am and Mom left yesterday at a disgusting 4:45am. Damn, that went too fast. So I was tired and miserable yesterday...rushed the girls onto the bus at 12:30pm and headed directly to bed. Once I snuggled in, I drifted in and out of consciousness for almost three hours (a little slice of heaven) and after a good night's rest last night I'm feeling quite human again.
The week and a half with my parents here could not have been better. It was the first time I'd seen my Dad since his cancer diagnosis in late May and it did my heart good to see him, to hug him...and to mother him a bit. Given the magnitude of his surgery and the preceding chemo/radiation, he is doing remarkably well. I was prepped ahead of time for his slight of frame, but found that he really looks great. He is a bit thin (compared to, say, a year ago), but looks sharp and fit. And really, it's nothing that a little pasta and some rum raisin ice cream can't fix.
He spent the better part of his week here soaking in the chaos of my house while reading and crosswording, and I spent the better part of my week resisting the impulse to hover around...and cut up his meat for him. He insists that despite his quieter than normal disposition, he is fine. More than fine. He and Mom are a formidable team and have come to this point with renewed respect, love and admiration for each other. They are hell bent on getting back to normal and it appears that, little by little, they are doing exactly that.
Mom arrived on Tuesday after spending the previous 48 hours awake (between work and an early flight). She didn't take long to recover and contribute to the craziness. It would be impolite to tell you how many boxes of merlot we drank or how many calories we consumed, but I can tell you that none of us lost a pound, and we should all have healthier hearts...and perhaps thinner blood.
The kids behaved just well enough to ensure that Gramma and Grampa will come back again. They, too, are missing having the house full, missing their grandparents terribly. It was the perfect do-over for the week Dad had in April (when the pain in the arm was still just a gigantic pain in the ass) and the 'rents are more resolved than ever to make it back up to this neck of the woods in 2008.
One of the highlights of their visit was a lunch we had down at the Erie Canal in Pittsford, NY. The scenery was picturesque and the weather crisp and decidedly autumn like. We had the most amazing meal at Simply Crepes (crepes, crepes and more crepes), browsed for a bit in the gift shops along the canal and eventually ended up hangin' with the birds. The canal was filled with ducks who had not yet ventured south and the sidewalk was covered with humongous pigeons who clearly had not missed a meal. Mom and Dad shelled out about $5 for little brown sacks of bird food and spent the next half hour or so engrossed in the simple delight of the birds. To the casual onlooker, they probably looked like crazy bird people amid the flock, with the occassional pigeon on their heads and ducks eating from their hands. But to me, they just looked happy.
They laughed effortlessly and smiled naturally and quickly. It was as if, momentarily, they were carefree. For that small slice of time along the canal, there was no cancer, no aftermath, no stress. Just the birds and the easy quiet of happiness.
Those fat pigeons gave my parents the gift of a brief and profound reprieve from the extraordinary toll of the last six months. They gave Mom and Dad the gift of living in the moment, and me the gift of photographing it.
And man, it felt great.