Home > Uncategorized > Quarantine Diaries – Day 53 (Mom and Dad)

Quarantine Diaries – Day 53 (Mom and Dad)

We’ve all had lots of time to think. To ponder. To pontificate inside our own heads.

We’re hurting. Scared. Lonely. Furious. Punchy. Confused. We’re like that poor old tree that keeps getting hit by lightning.

IMG_0301I’m thinking that I’m glad my parents are not still here to deal with all of this, and instantly feel like a shit. But it doesn’t change my mind. They were everything good, and didn’t deserve much of what life threw at them, especially towards the end. I cannot imagine their incomprehension of what we’ve become and where we are. All of us, not able to reach out and touch the other, covered up like soldiers in the midst of a gas attack. Our nation morally leaderless. Both of them are gone, and I’m glad of it.

My Dad never kissed another girl. He bragged about it, immensely proud of his perfect batting average. My Mom played hard to get just because she knew she could, but soon succumbed to his charms, and they merged into one. They were around the same age my kids are now.

All innocence. Movies and milk-shakes. My Mom’s grandfather was the oldest surviving veteran of the Civil War in Jessup. “Yankee” Loftus was his name, as he was apparently quite the soldier. He carried a cane and would use it to whack those who displeased him, so my Dad always made it a point to “social distance” even then, lest “Yankee” get a whiff of any devious intentions when he was courting my Mom in a room full of her family members. It wasn’t easy being in love in them days. You had to work for it.

Both were small children during the great depression…..never knowing that things were ever different than this. So when my Dad went out with a burlap sac to round up any excess coal that tipped off the trains going too fast around curves, he just assumed this was how everybody heated their homes. And when my Mom’s older sister Anna was shipped off to Philadelphia to be a maid for a wealthy Main Line family, well that was the price everybody paid, wasn’t it?

Anna took sick in Philadelphia. She was put on a train home. There was nothing the doctors could do. My Mom watched as they carried her down the steps. She was wrapped in a white sheet. The night she was waked my Mom spiked a fever…..and dreamt that Anna was still there, at the foot of the bed. Comforting her. Saying it was going to be alright.

There was nothing to compare any of this to. Again, it was just the price you paid. Wasn’t it? Mom never told me about Anna. Ever. I found out when I saw her grave stone. “Who’s Anna?” “She was my sister”. “What??”

And then the depression eased, because of the war. There was always a price to pay.

The Flannery and Loftus families served with great distinction. Soldiers. Pilots. Nurses. War correspondents. One was captured and tortured….and survived because he was too stubborn not to. None of them considered themselves special. They were called and they served. And when it was over they didn’t want to talk about it. Because they assumed that anybody called would do the same, so what was the point? They were the “greatest generation” because they were never crippled by the peripheral stuff. They lasered in on the job at hand, and that was that. They were oblivious to the forks in the road.

My parents had 6 of us. No one quite like the other. Our assorted complexes had complexes. But we never doubted that either of them would take a bullet for any of us. The more we learned of their lives, the more our mini-rebellions softened. Considering what they’d been through, them looking at us like were were an assortment of aliens was making more and more sense. We didn’t have to find our own fuel to heat the house. We weren’t shipped off into indentured servitude, or asked to defeat Nazis and then immediately turn towards the Pacific and take out the fanatical Japanese. We were griping about curfews and having to attend Sunday mass.

They were filled with optimism. If our leaders made mistakes, they assumed the intention was noble. They were liberal Rooseveltians after all. It was he who said “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

My Dad passed first. Mom largely went with him, but her body would not cooperate. She died confused, with a broken heart, wondering why when she woke scared in the middle of the night he wasn’t there to calm her anymore.

I’m not sure they could have comprehended a man like Donald Trump sharing the same office as Franklin Roosevelt.

The bile. The verbal spittle spewed on Twitter. Just the smallness of the man himself, brandishing hate like “Yankee” wielding his cane. And when he stops to cup his ear, the cheering of his loyal faithful saying, “yes, give us more of that, because this is what makes America great.”

And Roosevelt. A flawed giant…..but a historical colossus nonetheless.

Always always always…..trying something. To make us better.

I’m thinking of my parents today. What they’ve been through. What they sacrificed. What they fought for. They were the better angels.

And I’m glad they are not here to see this.

In a bit..


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