Aria Calda

Per La Capa

The above headline, translated from the Italian, means Hot Air (with the subhead signifying, For the Chief). But, hell, this is good ol’ Bloomington, home of Indiana University and some of the smartest people on Earth (including you), so you knew that.

Anyhow, it’s in honor of my mother, The Chief (La Capa, natch). She got the bejesus kicked out of her, first by gravity, then by dehydration. See, she keeled over in the middle of the night next to her bed and there she remained for the next couple of days (at least).

She came within a hair’s breadth of turning in her meal card, thereby becoming eligible to meet at last one of her great heroes, John F. Kennedy, face to face, in god’s good heaven. That is, if both she and he merit eternal residence at the foot of the Big Daddy-o in the Sky.


Her Hero

My brother and his son, who live nearby her in west suburban Chicagoland, dropped in on her a week ago Saturday and found her staring at the ceiling, both her hips fractured, one femur shattered, and the crown of her pelvis cracked off. Lucky for her, she doesn’t remember a thing about it all.

Unluckily, The Chief is going to have to move out of her apartment. I’m telling you, she was more proud of living alone and being able to take care of herself into her 93rd year than anything else she’d ever done. Now, she may never walk again and she’ll have to live in a nursing home.

By my reckoning, the only bigger disappointment she’s ever experienced was the great Cubs collapse in 1969. “If they can’t win it this year,” she said, dolefully, as that star-crossed season wound down, “they’ll never win it.”

Holtzman No-Hitter, 19690819

Before The Fall, August 1969

Here we are, 44 years later and whaddya know? The Chief was right.

I rebelled against pretty much everything my parents stood for when I was a teenager. Hell, if it was at all possible, I would have held my breath simply because they found it imperative to fill their own lungs with air. But even then, I shared with my mother a love of the Cubs. Even while we argued about whether or not the sun would rise in the east the next morning, we could at least agree that we wanted, more than anything, our Cubs to win something, anything.

I doubt if there was ever a phone conversation between us during any baseball season where one of us wouldn’t ask the other, “Didja see the game today?”

It was our way of saying I love you. Because, truth be told, we didn’t know how to say it any other way.

Wrigley Field

Heaven On Earth

She has already slipped into a deep funk over her predicament. I know because she told me so. And even if she hadn’t said a word about her gloom, I would have known. I sat with her in the hospital and she never once asked me what the Cubs did that day.

Here’s a secret, and I hope everyone who reads this will understand. I wish my brother and his son had arrived at her apartment a half hour or even an hour later. She could have slipped away without suffering the indignity of living in a wheelchair, at best, in a nursing home.

The way I see it, she has already suffered one crushing disappointment in her life. She doesn’t need another.

One Day

6 thoughts on “Aria Calda

  1. Candy says:

    Buon figlio. Buon figlio.

  2. Michael says:

    Dear Mike, So sorry to hear about La Capa. As a fellow Cubs fan, I wish her and you the best, whatever that may be. My experience is related but certainly not same. My uncle just passed away after complications from surgery, and my mom had another rushed ambulance trip to hospital last week (but back home now). My grandmother long ago suffered for too many months in a hospital bed before merciful death at last.

    Oh, and keep on writing!

  3. Bill & Martha says:

    I briefly considered building ramps and offering the Chief my daughter’s old room for as long as she’d have us. She still has orders to give. She’s done and been through so much that a rest is deserved. I’m still not ready to count her out. If anyone can adapt and overcome it’s your mom. Modern orthopedics and physical therapy perform miracles every day, so for now, that’s where her attention is needed. A nice long curtain call would be fitting as long as it’s on her terms.

    Goes without saying… If there is anything we can do from here to help, don’t hesitate to let us know.

  4. A Mariner on this Sea of Madness says:

    Nicely put big boy. I felt the same way about my father during his final days. Indignity is exactly the right way to put it. Also, glad to have the pencil back, yesterdays post was a winner, I laughed out loud.

  5. Jan Takehara says:

    So beautiful – and I say that as a diehard Cubs fan who now works with seniors on a daily basis. Thank you, Michael, and I wish peace of mind for you and the Chief

  6. Beth Engh Widell says:

    Mikey, she does not necessarily need a nursing home. Please spend some time looking around after rehab. I have at least 6 people that use mobile wheelchairs and still live in an apartment in our community . Two of them are over 100 years old. They have a full life with friends and still participate in activities and events. You go to a nursing home to die. You go to an assisted or independent retirement community to still live! She may also qualify for benefits to help pay the rent. She is lucky to have a big family to care for her. If I can help in any way please reach out and please give her my love. Beth

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