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.
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.”
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.
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.