Family Circles

Synopsis:

A knock on the door brings memories full circle.
Can you choose to get off the merry go round?

Just a short note about... stuff.

Some names may have been changed to protect...

Story:

Copyright KLS 2006.

Family Circles

By Kristina.L.S.

1.

It was a gentle Sunday morning and all the chores were done. Puppies brushed, clothes washed, house vacuumed, coffee made. Time to noodle on the old laptop.
But then a ding-dong echoed through, not a common thing on Sunday morning or most other times either. The tall solid guy standing there with his back to the door surprised me, until he turned around. That same bushy moustache and almost crew cut. Those same gentle, pale blue eyes. Seeming sadder than normal, but then he wouldn't be here after 14 years if there wasn't a reason.

His gaze wandered up and down, pausing briefly, before resting on my face. It occurred to me that my eyes were darker, wonder why that was, they used to be identical. We did the hi how are you stuff, all without names, as I invited him in and did the quick tour and then coffee... tea? Sat and looked and measured.

His gaze paused again, the old grandpa shirt hung in places it never could 14 years ago, and no doubt there were other differences as well.

"So I assume there's a reason you're here. I mean to track me down wouldn't have been hard but..." I shrugged as I stopped and waited for my brother to say whatever he had to say.

"It's dad... he... He is not well has been in hospital most of this year and well... it doesn't look like... It doesn't look good and I figured you would want to at least see him."

My thoughts roamed back over the years to good and then not quite so good memories. There was never any overt distaste or violence, just a quiet refusal to acknowledge. A 'universal', it's not really true so just pretend it isn't there. A not even hidden mothers disappointment that her boy could be, one of those.

And so at 22 I had left. I no longer had a family, letters to mum and dad, brothers and sister in explanation of feelings and beliefs had brought no response, so...

Johnny talked me through the recent history, of illness and hospital. Of missed diagnosis and then transfer to larger and finally an answer and treatment. But he was weakened and could not take the full dosage and so...

Conversation switched to others Joseph and Ginny, both now married with kids, as was John. I was the only hold out it seemed. Mum was fine. Then neutral topics, music, a shared love, once a binding thing. Now? Another difference? Esoteric musicians and discs, names were tossed around as a few titles found there way to the player as a distraction.

He left an hour later leaving me with a letter giving ward and such if I wanted to visit. I said I would as he left with that same sad eyed smile, no contact or name, same old same old.

He rang the next night. I gave him home and mobile and e-mail, now thought that maybe that wasn't a good idea. I had a life of sorts. Would it now devolve to what it had been 14 years ago? Was I enough myself to say no at a given point?

I was going out Friday morning I said. Alone I said. But of course...

The next night another call, he would come with me if that was all right, had taken the day off. So how could I say no. He would pick me up and drive out.

The 45-minute drive was kept conversation free by the CD playing. Just a, "hello, ready?"
No name, no comment on clothing. I gazed out the window and tried to imagine...

John pointed with his chin across the room to a corner bed. An old man, mouth and eyes partly open, head tilted to one side unmoving, wispy white hair. The occasional attempt at swallowing or opening his eyes the only evidence of life.

Close up unshaven raspy bristles against the back of my hand as I brushed the cheek. Uncovered an arm and finally recognition. Yes those were dad's hands. The pale watery blue eyes were not as they were. Lacking spark or knowledge. He mumbled the odd disjointed phrase as I tried to connect.

The Doctor had come and outlined the stages of treatment. Almost apologetic at previous failure. Had he been able to take... but now... unstoppable, was progressing still... terminal. Consider palliative care... soon. Two, six, a year, who knows.

Finally, recognition, the eyes lit slightly, a mumbled name, one that hadn't been used for years, " knew he'd come back", half joking mixed with nonsense, yes this was dad. Same old same old. Why didn't I feel sadder? Nothing changes; it just goes around in a circle. He drifted in and out, was not in pain they said. A few hours later we left, with decisions endorsed and options looked at.

The CD played again as I gazed out the window. He dropped me home with a, " well keep in touch, we'll talk later."

"Yes I will. I'll go out again. Talk to you later."

I went inside not looking back as he drove away. The puppies bounced and greeted me as puppies do. Made coffee and sat on the back step, with memories and possible futures wandering in and out.

Finally the tears started, but who were they for?

Any thoughts or comments I can be contacted - [email protected] Anything short of abuse welcome.

Notes:

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This story is 982 words long.