On New Year’s Day, -4ºC, my father walked down into the basement, which is my room, turned on the lights, and, in Katchi, softly said, “Aly. Aly, wake up slowly and take your mother to the hospital.”
In Katchi, I replied, “Yeah, okay.”
By two o’clock in the afternoon, I was sitting in the waiting room of the ER at a hospital my mom had already visited twice in the preceding three weeks. My mother was visibly in pain, knew what the problem was, and had prepared herself for a long wait.
Seven hours later, she was waiting to be admitted and prepped for surgery. I had to go home and get things in order to take my dad to the hospital across town for six the next morning.
Never one to be late, my dad was at the Admissions entrance for 5:50 am on Tuesday, 1ºC. I had to go find parking and then bring his belongings to him.
By 7:40 am, he was on his way in for surgery and I was on my home for a nap.
No later than noon, I got a text from my mom saying that she was on her way in for surgery. As I was replying, I got a call from my uncle, who let me know that my dad was out of surgery and doing well. After my nap, I went to a Freshii for what turned out to be a horribly expensive and terrible tasting wrap.
After I finished what I could of the wrap, I headed over to visit my dad. He was sleeping when I got there but woke up when the nurse came in to check his blood pressure. He was surprised to see me but his blood pressure was fine. After about half an hour, I left him to drive to the hospital where my mom was. When I got there, she was just getting out of surgery and I met her sleeping on the gurney as the porter was transferring her to her room. She woke up when the nurse came in to check her blood pressure but was less surprised to see me. Her blood pressure was also fine.
I left her at around three so that I could get to Reid’s to buy some paper, and maybe a pen, that I’d been waiting to buy. As I was driving past the store, closed for the holidays, my mom sent me a text telling me to pick her up at six. I went home to eat something.
By about eight, my mom was home and in bed. I went for a tea at Higher Ground.
On Wednesday, 6ºC, I woke up at around eleven and went to Starbucks for a coffee. While waiting for my Americano, I phoned Reid’s to see if they were open. I went back home and checked in with my mom. She was fine so I left to go see my dad, stopping to pick up some stationery on the way.
When I graduate from teachers college, my parents held a lunch at Lahore Tikka House, an Indian restaurant in Toronto, for my friends and family. Of course, I was late arriving. My uncle made a quip about having enough respect for the family who showed up to wash their feet. I replied by saying that doing so would be my living nightmare; I fucking hate feet. After spending about five hours with my bedridden dad, he wanted to get ready for bed. I gave him a sponge bath before he put on his hospital gown, not forgetting to wash his feet and even between his toes.
I went home, bringing my mom a particular brand of coconut water and a soup from Tim Hortons, before heading out to meet a buddy of mine.
From Germany, where he was studying for the last two years, he brought me a very interesting pen, a beta,pen. It writes with metal! After he gave me the gift that I didn’t reciprocate, we had a great conversation. It wasn’t so much catching up as it was hanging out with my buddy. It was then that I missed him during the time he was away.
I couldn’t sleep on Wednesday night, but I had to be at the hospital to pick up my dad at ten on Thursday. I arrived, late, at quarter to eleven. Not having changed his underwear in three days, my dad was understandably ready to go home. By two, 4ºC, he was home.
Before a short nap, and short on patience, I went around running errands, tying up loose ends for my parents before I left them on their own. My parents have very specific requirements when it comes to what they want. I had forgotten about this until Thursday afternoon. It’d almost be better if we didn’t have cell phones.
Thursday evening, after ensuring that my parents were sorted, I went to a gathering for the friends and family of Nash, a good buddy of mine who died ten years ago. It was nice to see everyone, especially his parents. Nash’s brother is one of my best friends, but it’s always fascinating to experience how his parents speak to me, talking about my past and personality without reservation. His mom and mine worked together for some 25 years. They also never fail to make fun of how I speak Katchi.
On Friday morning, 9ºC, I put on a sweater as I was dressing for the airport. I put the long johns that I had worn for the flight home and on New Year’s Eve – not since I left Finland in 2002 – in a gym bag that I was taking as hand luggage. My mom told me to stop at the Apple Store on the way to the airport so that she could buy me an Apple Watch. We bought it on the condition that I return it if it’s not working out for me. All the while, I was worried about being late for my flight.
When I landed in Toronto, -29ºC with windchill, it took over an hour for my luggage to make its way to the carousel. When I got to my car, the battery was dead. My car was mimicking my existential state. While waiting to get a boost, I wished that I had worn my long johns. After getting a boost from the parking lot attendant, my phone died. My car made it home but I had to lock the doors manually, like a neanderthal. I needed a boost this morning, too.
How did Neanderthals ever survive -40ºC with windchill on New Year’s Eve?