The phone rang, it was early on a Sunday to have his mother calling, he picked it up anyway.
“Nick, I’ve had it, I want your father out of here, I’m sending him to you. You can take care of him. He’s a liar, and I’m done. I’m getting a divorce.”
“Woah, wait Mom, what is going on?”
It was already apparent to Nick what was going on. The battles between his Mom and his sister in law had gone on for years. Her testimony proved that this was the case. Apparently his Pops had forgotten a poignant remark his sister in law made during their last visit, and left Moms on the line being accused as a liar. Italian women never take well to that kind of thing.
“Put him on”
“Hey Nick,” his soft spoken father said into the phone.
“What the fuck is going on?”
“I didn’t remember her saying that, I do now, but it’s too late.”
“Do you really want to be crashing on my couch?” Nick asked, referring to his aged lounge in the front room of his small apartment. “Surely, you don’t want that.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind.”
“Ok then, let me know when you’re coming. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Do you want to talk to your Mom again?”
“No thanks, talk to you tomorrow.”
A thousand thoughts raced through Nick’s head. He was the oldest of three children. His parents, though not perfect by any means, did the best they could with what they had. It was truly baffling that after 35 years of marriage, Nick’s mother was going to kick his 70 year old father out of the house. It didn’t make any sense. When talking to others, he can vividly remember some of his friends saying that their parents should have divorced long ago, but instead inflicted suffering on themselves and their children. Nicks parents did not fit that bill. He used to think of them as a shining example of what a successful marriage could look like. But here he was, looking at the prospect of having his Pops as a roommate. Not only that, but the impeccable image he had come to admire in his own life was shattered right there during a 5 minute phone call.
Nick called up his brother, because after all, it’s his wife who’s causing shit. He was at work and bitched about having to deal with this shit while he was working.
“Well it’s your wife, and she’s your fucking responsibility, so deal with it.” Nick intoned angrily into the phone.
The rest of Nick’s night was spent going over the possible outcomes. His father, now retired, living with him in an unfamiliar city, with nothing to do was not an ideal situation. However out of love for his father, Nick decided he would endure and move forward. He couldn’t shake the feeling of being played a pawn in a fucked up game. He also entertained thoughts of kicking his brother’s ass but ultimately decided that was the wrong focus.
A couple beers later, it was time for bed, as that sort of emotional ride took a lot out of Nick. He dreamed intense violent dreams over the course of his 8 hours.
The next morning, he got out of bed and grabbed his cellphone, immediately calling his father.
“Hey Pops, what are you doing?
“I’m walking the dogs for the last time.”
“Jesus dad, she hasn’t relented?”
“Nope, she’s at work or something, maybe she’s having an affair.”
“Oh come on Pops, don’t talk like that. What are you going to do? My couch is still open.”
“Well, I slept on the couch last night, and I slept like shit. I’m so tired I can’t do anything. I think I’m going to find a place here to stay, and if not head your way.”
“If you’re that tired, you shouldn’t make the drive here today. Get some rest and then come this way, I’ll take the couch and you can crash my room. How are you feeling?”
“I feel sick.”
Then, as if prompted by some unseen jukebox, Nicks father sung into phone, with his soft aged voice that was all too familiar, his own version of that classic John Denver song:
“The sun is up, I’m outside the door. My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. I don’t want to leave, I’m so lonesome I could die.”
Later on, he couldn’t name the artist, he just said, “I thought it was appropriate.”
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.