...Around a year ago, we were all out in the badlands, the day before the holiday, because of other family or professional obligations the next day. She never liked that. She liked to celebrate a holiday on the day it falls on a calendar, but what can you do?
It was or month or so since the last bouts of chemotherapy. Her hair was slowly starting to grow back. Although neuropathy made her shuffle when walked, giving the appearance of locomotion of one much older than herself, she was feeling better. In good spirits. Her daughter was going to be walking down the aisle in less than a month and she was excited.
It never occurred to any of us it might be a last time. It never does, because you never really, really know for sure. But what can you do?
So it goes...
My father speaks of leaving the Rub' al Khali of the badlands of eastern Colorado. Oh, sure, back when my mother first walked on, he put on the bravest face. He was staying out there. Just as I love living in the mountains, he loved living on the badlands. He was still waiting to see John Wayne come riding up over the next rise. It was quiet and no one bothered him.
It's hard to say who he was trying to convince; all of us, or himself, but it probably doesn't matter...
Whether it's the loneliness or being snowed in during one of the last heavy storms is both debatable and irrelevant. My father told me he wants to move. To be closer to all of us, relatively speaking.
My father is sixty-two years old. In the last sixteen years, he's had two heart attacks. Out there, his nearest friend is six miles away. Since my mother has walked on, the dogs-save two-chickens, and sheep have been gotten rid of. There's really no more reason to have sixty acres of land.
We all agree it's for the best. My father's age and the possibility of something health-wise happening. Back when my mother was dying in the sickhouse, that was something my brother would talk to me about. My sister echoed some of the same thoughts when we chatted after Easter supper. I agree with both of them, although, even though I have assurances, I still sometimes worry that loneliness is going haunt and chase my father wherever he goes and he's one day going to crawl into a bottle and never come back out.
Of course it's all wait and see. See what the time and seasons hold. That house out in the Rub' al Khali is more isolated than where I am in the Sahel. With my mother gone, it might be fair to say that the badlands are not his Kashmir, and that perhaps leaving them might do him a world of good.