Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Thousand

Cash register
Originally uploaded by
M Skaffari

I am in need of some comic relief, but not necessarily in a funny mood. I was just looking back over my recent posts, and I can feel the collective weight of my emotions. I miss the days when I would use my wit, or sarcasm, to come up with some clever way of expressing myself. I'm going to have to start digging deep.

I remember a few years ago when Michael and I were spending a lot of time fixing up, and painting, his Aunt Nancy's home. She had been quite ill, and was in an out of the hospital. It felt good to go over there, work on the yard, or work in the house. Also during that time I had finally succumbed to all the pressure from Michael and the kids to get hearing aide, because I am partially deaf in my left ear. I met with the doctor to discuss my options. He had tested me many times over the years, and each time said it was up to me as to whether I chose to use a hearing aide. I explained that my family was tired of me misunderstanding everything they said, especially my partner. So we began looking at all the hearing aides available. I chose one on the high end, thinking it would last a long time, and because it provided different settings for various environments or activities. I paid the piper, and waited for the order to come in. That weekend we were back at Aunt Nancy's working in her dining room. Michael and I were painting, and were moving up and down ladders, painting and having an ongoing conversation with Aunt Nancy. At one point she and Michael were doing most of the talking, and she interrupted him to ask a question. "Michael, has anyone ever told you that you mumble too much?" Michael was aptly offended, and tried to puff out his chest to counter this ridiculous claim. I just laughed at their interaction. She wasn't satisfied with his response. "Michael, has Dan ever told you that he cannot hear you or understand what you are trying to say? You talk so softly all the time. I can barely understand anything you say!" Michael knew where this was headed and quickly looked away. I simply turned back toward him in a deadpan manner, "you owe me two thousand dollars."

Michael's Aunt Nancy died the day after his brain surgery in 2007. It was a bit of a turning point for his mother and I. We had just been through a horrific week of Michael's tests, brain surgery, and receiving the grim diagnosis, and the next thing we knew we were driving an hour away to be with his aunt who was dying in another hospital. There was nothing left for the doctors to do for Aunt Nancy, and it was time to make a decision to take her off the ventilator. That decision was put on Michael's mother, who in turn reached out for me. So there we were, holding Aunt Nancy's hands, nodding that it was time to turn the machines off, and standing there while the room fell silent. Michael should have been there. This was Michael's place in the family. He couldn't be there to fulfill his role as the responsible son and nephew, so there I was in his place. Michael and I were not yet married at the time, but that day I became a member of the family.

After Aunt Nancy died, and while Michael was home recuperating from his surgery, I would drive over the bridge each day to finish the painting we had started. Aunt Nancy was an animal lover, and had four cats and two dogs. Friends were trying to find homes for each of the pets, but three of the cats were still in the house. I had painted throughout the morning, and then went out for lunch. When I returned there were white paw prints across the table, down the chair, and across the freshly refinished wood floors. I was lookin to skin me a cat. When I found the guilty feline, I realized it was Carelli, Aunt Nancy's favorite cat. Meow. Carelli and I quickly became constant companions during that week. After a few days I came home with a request that Michael and the kids never would have expected from someone who is quite allergic to cats. I was smitten. We had to take him in.

For those of you who have been reading here since the early days, you may know Carelli by his alias, "The $2000.00 Cat."


  1. Great story! Thanks for sharing. I hope that these sweet memories bring you comfort and sleep tonight.

  2. That's a great story. By the way, I think your two thousand dollar cat story was one of the first posts that I ever read at your blog. I loved your style of writing - and still do, for that matter.

  3. Carelli and you are kindred spirits. both of you alternatively pace or lay quiet as you miss your special someones. this is a beautiful story of what it means to be family. being there with each other. holding hands. Michael's mother is doubly blessed. she had Michael and they both had you.

    as for comic relief, you will find it soon. it is innate in all of us. i keep you in my heart.