My brother took the above photo on his trip to New Hampshire last month. It’s the old barn at the house we grew up in, viewed from a dirt road. Below is a picture he took of that house. It was badly in need of paint nine years ago, when my parents sold it, but it looks like it’s in good shape now. The biggest maple tree out front had to be cut down, but the smallest one isn’t looking so small anymore.
It feels strange to be back home in DC after nine months away in rural New Hampshire. And I’m driving back up next week for my father’s memorial service—driving because flying sounds like a terrible option these days.
My father was able to live at home for most of these past months. Facilitating that was a two-person job, mine and my octogenarian mother’s. During his last month, he went from hospital to rehab, which I thought might become long-term care, but his old body had other plans.
Fortunately I already knew his wishes, so all three of us were on the same page when it came time. He was at the hospital when we switched him over to hospice care, a small one in the White Mountains, and the staff was brilliant.
My son made it up the last week, as did my sisters and one brother-in-law. Even my brother, who I hadn’t seen in thirty years, flew in. On one of the last days the old man could speak, a nurse told him he was lucky. “I know,” he replied.
So it goes.
Early last fall, during a drive down to a different hospital to pick up my father, my wife called me. Our first grandchild was coming. And then another call: she was there.
In-home and residential care options for octogenarians have become extremely limited in these trying times, so I’ve been spending the last quarter of 2021 at my parents’ in the White Mountains. This will continue into 2022. I miss DC, but it’s not like I can take advantage of the city’s rich research and cultural resources during this never-ending pandemic.
Photos taken in North Conway, New Hampshire, by author.
All DC area residents have complaints and even horror stories to tell about the Metro. Since introducing it to children in the family from out of town, I’ve started looking at it with fresh eyes.
Some music composed by my son