Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oral Dilemma: Matters of Import

When it rains in pours. Is it not enough  to have to bury her mom? What fresh hell is this?

Oral Dilemma:
Matters of Import
Ellie Mack  

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 4 here
Read part 5 here.  
Read part 6 here.
Read part 7 here.  
Read part 8 here. 
Read part 9 here.
Read part 10 here.  
Read part 11 here

 “Roxy, it’s time to go honey.” Dad stepped into the living room placing his hand on my shoulder lightly. At least he had the sense to not bring Tammy with him. She had lasted a whole four months so far. He was more shook up over mom’s death than I figured he would be. 

“OK dad.” I moved the phone down to my lap to answer him, before he moved down the hall to hurry Tara along. I sighed. This was almost surreal, it still seemed like a bad dream. I looked at the phone disappointed that Luke wouldn’t be able to attend, but knew there was no way he could make the funeral now. I’m sure he’ll understand. It couldn’t be helped I suppose. I’d make sure to stop and get his favorite treats on my way to the hospital after the funeral. Another sigh escaped as I raised the phone back up. “Mrs. Reed, I’ll get the details in a bit. We’ve got to leave for the funeral now. I’ll call you back at this number as soon as I get a chance then you can give me the details. Tell him I’ll be there as soon as I can get away.”

“Roxanne, you don’t understand. It's”

It was all I heard before I ended the call. Of course I didn’t understand. Of course! Suddenly, I was furious. I didn’t understand why my boyfriend, my fiancee’ couldn’t be with me to support me when I needed him the most. I didn't blame him of course but the fates that seemed to plot against me. I didn’t understand why no one else seemed to care that my mother was being buried today. I didn’t understand how things could go from such a good place in my life to devastation in such a short time. I didn’t understand why my mom was dead!

The tears came unbidden now. I couldn’t stop them. I swiped at my face. Angry that my mascara was already running. Angry that I had to ride in the car with dad. Angry that he left her in the first place. Angry that he was bunny hopping with bimbos while mom slowly died. Angry that he wasn’t there for me or for Tara. Angry that Luke wasn’t coming,  that I couldn't hold his hand or lean on his shoulder. 

Through the veil of tears I punched out a message. Luke baby, I’m sorry I can’t come right this minute. Mom’s funeral is just about to start. I’ll be on the road as soon as I can. Love you! Maybe I’ll play nurse for you back at the apartment.

My breath hitched, feeling almost suffocated as I clenched my eyes shut. “GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF! I screamed it inside my head. I stared out the passenger window as we traveled in silence. Tara fidgeted with a dozen things from her purse, changed earrings three times, and checked her makeup four more. Dad drove in stone-faced silence.

Tara turned in her seat and asked “Rox, do these earrings match the dress?”

I nodded. I didn’t dare speak. The anger roiled inside me threatening to spill over. Angry at dad, at Tara, at Luke, at mom, at God! How could He let this happen? It wasn’t fair!

Dad pulled into the spot next to the hearse. I stared at it remembering Luke’s story of climbing into a casket. Wanting desperately to express to him my sudden understanding at why he did it. It no longer seemed creepy. It seemed sensible, logical, rational. Staring at the death wagon, I wondered what it felt like staring out of a casket. I wondered if I would get breast cancer.

Dad had opened the door and practically pulled me from the car as I stared at the hearse. As if in slow motion we walked into the funeral parlor moving to the front row. It was a small gathering: friends, family, coworkers. Aunt Marge turned me into her embrace whispering in my ear as she hugged me tightly. “Oh Roxy honey. I’m so sorry about your mom. You girls can come stay with me if you’d like.”

It wasn’t until we were riding in the car on the way to the cemetery when the impact of her statement hit me. Mom’s house would be sold. I was a legal adult but what about Tara? My mind raced with things Dad had said, things I was going to have to do, would have to choose. Decisions he was going to make. I replayed all of it in my mental recorder listening closer this time.

I did the mental checklist: clean out the house, sell the house, ‘You girls can move in with Aunt Marge or Aunt Carol and still stay with me in the summers.’ We weren’t welcome to move in with him?

“Dad?” My eyes dry for the first time in a couple hours.

“Yeah squirt?” He responded turning to me. He looked older and more tired than I had ever seen him.

“Why did you say we can move in with Aunt Marge or Carol, but not with you until summer?” Tara sat at the kitchen table listening. She was looking down at her glass of soda, didn’t turn, but I knew she was listening because suddenly her back was straight and that soda seemed all too interesting. 

“ Um well, Roxy honey.” He cleared his throat. “You see, Tammy just moved in and I’d like for us to have a chance together, and my job has been really demanding lately. Been spending a lot of time traveling and that would put you two there with her most of the time. I don't think she's ready to be a mom just yet.” 

I could see what was more important. “Never mind. Tara can move in with me. I’m an adult. We’ve got each other. We’ve always got each other. Go back to Tammy. Or Barbara, or Susie, or whatever the hell your next flavor of the month is. I don’t even care anymore. Mom was right!” I leaped to my feet and practically ran to my room to get my bag. I couldn’t stuff the things in fast enough.

He was at my door, leaning against the door frame. “Pumpkin, you’ve got it all wrong.”

“Do I dad? Do I?” I continued stuffing the bag, not folding anything. I grabbed the largest piece of my luggage from the top of my closet wheeling it to Tara’s room. “Pack up sis, you’re coming with me! NOW!”

Tara jumped, a little startled and practically ran to her room grabbing the suitcase, stuffing fast and furious.

“I understand a whole lot more than you’ve ever given me credit for. I understand that mom loved you to the day she died. She hoped that you’d wake up but you never have. I understand that even though you cheated on her with different women before you divorced, that she still was willing to stick it out with you. I understand that you’ve never been there for us, that summer visits with you were tolerated. You’re our biological father, but you certainly haven’t been our dad.”

“ Roxanne! You will not talk to me like that!”

“Oh? Won’t I? I think I just did. What’s the matter pop? Hitting a little too close to home? We don’t understand like Tammy does?” I zipped the duffel closed and began packing the next one. “Mom left this house to Tara and me. I think it’s time you left.”

I glared at him, furious with years of pent up anger and frustrations. Angry that he’d never been there. Angry that he wanted to arrange things for us now so it would be convenient for him and he’d still not be responsible. “I checked the paperwork, the deed, the accounts are all POD,TOD, and benefactors. Mom had everything taken care of when she first got the diagnosis. She has it all in the safety deposit box, and with her lawyer. So don’t worry, she handled all the responsibility - again.”

He slammed his fist into the wall, leaving a big hole. “Dammit Roxanne! It’s not just that easy. You don’t know what goes on in my life.” 

“You’re right dad, I don’t. We’ve never been a part of your life so how would we know?” 

A part of me inside was screaming to stop, while my mouth kept going. A part of me just wanted to scream at him “why don’t you love your little girls?” Another part of me never wanted to see him again. I was so hurt, so scared, I didn’t know what we were going to do, but I knew things weren’t going to change with him. 

“I’ll be sending you the bill for repairs to our house. Now I think it’s time you left.”

I’m not proud of my temper, it makes me say things I shouldn’t. Things that are often better left unsaid. As I watched him, I saw an expression I’d never seen before. Regret? Remorse? Anger? Hurt? I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but the broken man that trudged out the door was not the arrogant jerk he’d been a few minutes before.

I followed him out locking the door behind him. I hated it when I said such hurtful things, hated that I‘d let my emotions get the better of me. 

Tara stepped out of her room, “He leave? Without even saying goodbye?”

I nodded.

Her tears began to flow as she turned back to finish packing.

There was so many things I needed to sort out and didn’t even know where to begin. I grabbed the cooler and began shoving things in it from the fridge. When the cooler was full. I filled a box with things from the cupboard. I was on the third box when Tara said she was ready.

We loaded the car in silence, the backseat and trunk stuffed to maximum capacity. As I locked the house, a sinking feeling formed in the pit of my stomach. 

I drove straight through to the hospital, stopping at the information desk. When I asked the lady what room Luke Reed was in, she said she couldn’t find him. After arguing with her for a few minutes I decided to call Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed- it was soon going to be my name as well.

“Hey Mrs. Reed. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t come sooner. I’m at the information desk at the hospital. Clara  here says she has no record of Luke. Can you tell me what room he’s in?”

“Roxanne honey. I tried to explain before. I’ll meet you in the little cafe just down the hall, OK?”

“Sure thing Mrs. Reed.”

“Please honey, call me Linda.”


  1. Wow. That was so powerful. Well done!

  2. oh wow! fabulous I loved it. especailly when she told of her Dad! Great job

  3. Thanks for the encouragement! Hope you all don't hate me next week!