Single his whole life, The Complete and Total Loser has no reason not to spend his days off, Monday and Tuesday (the Loser works in retail, low level), with his father, who's 91, since his mother died October 25.
This is week one.
The Loser came back to the suburban house Sunday night after five days in the city. He was worried about what he'd find. Yes, his father has taken care of himself and his mother for the past year, two, sort of, but life without his wife of just under 59 years -- how would that be?
Undecided. The house is tidy. The Loser found his father in his favorite position; standing in front of the TV in the kitchen, watching it, eating cheese, sipping a drink. The sink is empty, the dishes washed. Fine.
But. He hasn't watered the plants the Loser brought inside last Tuesday during the cold snap. He hasn't eaten any eggs and the bread is all still there. There are four messages on the answering machine going back three days that he hasn't heard. He is clean and he talks of throwing away tax records he's kept for ten, fifteen years.
He's hard to reason with. Always true, but it seems worse. The example: He wore dress shoes to the service last Monday. These days he's been wearing loose shoes, little more than slippers, everywhere, complaining of edema. At the end of the day, after wearing the dress shoes for less than five hours, he had a sharp pain in one foot. The pain, six days later, is subsiding but still comes and goes. The Loser offered to take him to a shoe store that specializes in comfort shoes and the old man flat out said no. No. Doesn't need them, he said. It took the Loser several minutes to persuade him to go and even then it's a maybe.
After his father went to bed the Loser checked his email and found this from an old family friend a few years younger than his mother:
I did call your Father once and he said he didn't want phone calls. I asked if he wanted to have lunch with Joan and me next Wed and he said NO. But I will call on Tues and ask again. I know it is soon for him.