Reta Hirschfeld, Aloha, California discussed on The Moth Radio Hour
Meg both. Our next story is from tamra Jenkins was told back in two thousand two and in those early days of the moth, it was a miracle. We managed to report the stories at all. And unfortunately, the audio from this particular show is a bit rougher than usual, but we loved it. And we hope you will tear. Here's Sandra Jenkins live at the mosque. After my parents split up. I was living in my mother's house in our old house on Yarmouth wrote in Philadelphia with my mother and my little brother and one Christmas morning. I came down the stairs and underneath a tree. There were all these really large scale gifts. And they were all addressed to me, and I rip them open. And it was luggage in all different shapes and sizes and with this beautiful floral print, and I said, oh my God, man. There's so many of them and she said, well, you know, when you go on a big trip. It's nice to have a matching set. Who's going on the big trip? And he said, you are and your little brother, you know, your father gives me no help here. I'm sending you both out to California to live with him. So now, I'm Lynn, California. And I've been living with my father for like ten years. And and at this point, I'm fifteen and my little brothers eleven and my father's sixty eight years old. He's not a young, man. But you know, he's doing okay, and we're going along, and it all seems fine until one day. My father's girlfriend offers him this deal. And her name is Reta Hirschfeld. And she she's a widow a two-time widow. And she she's my father's age, and she's put a little money aside, not a lot. But enough when she says to my father, look, Manny. You can either go into old agents style, you can move into my condominium complex with with with all the amenities. And all that that affords my swimming pool, the the the laundry room in the free parking me and my Hamilton collection of limited edition gone with the wind plates. Or you could continue living with those two kids of yours in that crappy rental apartment on Louisiana. Good boulevard that you can barely afford. So that sort of what it came down to either the condominium or the kids and my father went with a condo. So now it's like eighteen years later, and I'm living in the east village. And I'm like a thirty three years old. And I'm and I haven't seen my father very much during the course of this time. So one day the phone rings and the answering machine picks up, and it's my father's girlfriends daughter read Hirschfeld's daughter. She lives in Hawaii. And she says Aloha. I just thought you should know that my mother redder Hirschfeld has had a stroke, and we had to hire a twenty four hour home healthcare worker to attend to her needs. And Tammy the fact of the matter is your father's not getting any younger either. And actually, Tammy the fact is he won't dress himself, and he's wandering around the apartment in the nude, and he's showing up at the dinner table, nude, and he's like a nudist, and and and we're really concerned, and we are paying Alonzo to take care of our mother, not your father. And we, you know, we don't think it's fair. And I don't know what kind of people you are you don't even talk to your father your bunch of savages. And then she said, you know, L, and I also want you to know that your father is in the hospital. I mean, it's nothing serious. It's apparently routine, but I just thought you should know Aloha. So my brother, my big brother, and I we fly out to California to meet with Alonzo and to check out the situation, the home healthcare worker, and we strike up a deal with him that we're going to give him, you know, we're going to pool our money, and we're going to give him this monthly payment. If he continues to care for our father, and he agrees to this. And that's all very nice, and we signed a little piece of paper, and that's all really great. And then we go to the hospital to see my father. And you know, I haven't seen my father in a really long time, and we get to the hospital and he's in a hospital bed. Now, he's quite old. He's like eighty six years old, and he's laying there, and it's all very sort of sarcophagus strange feeling in the room. And I'm and it's silent. And then suddenly my father's is sort of pop open. And he looks at me and I look at him. And he says, you know, where the hell of you been they've had me hob tied for days. Get me the hell out of here. And he starts pulling at these restraints, and I start to undo him. And I tried to explain to him that I've been living on the eastern seaboard for the last eighteen years and. I'm sorry. I'm late dad. So I time my father, and apparently he's going to be released in a few days and everything that with Lonzo. So my brother flies back to Boston Massachusetts where he lives and now everything starts happening very quickly. I'm still in Los Angeles. And I'm actually in my hotel room, and I'm preparing to leave as well. And then the phone rings, Aloha Tammy. I just want you to know that last night our mother redder hers field passed away. And we just I mean, we feel really terrible about this. I mean, we're really sad. We're really sorry. And we're selling the condo. And and I just want to wish you know, you and your family, good luck. And God health and an Aloha so now, my father this this deal that we made with a home healthcare worker is mood because my father has no home and the hospital is ready to release my father, but he is nowhere to go. And I immediately call my big brother, and he immediately starts scrambling to find some sort of facility that will take. Care of my father and will receive him in a very short period of time, and I'm in Los Angeles. And I'm really kind of freaking out and I'm stalling the hospital, and they're getting really mad at me because you know, it's a hospital and explaining it's not a nursing home. And I I can't drive, and I'm in LA, and my brother calls me, he finds a place, and that's gonna take my father. And this is a big relief. So I call it the airlines my call United, and I'm looking for what's called a compassion discount fare. And the woman on the phone the United woman on the phone. She was very nice, but she explained to me that United doesn't offer compassion. They only offer bereavement. So if your father still alive, I'm sorry, but we can't help you. But when you're father does die please feel free to call United. And then we'll be able to take care of a man. Okay. So I ended up flying American and it's the morning of the flight, and I show up at the hospital, and it's quite early in the morning and the hospital sort of empty and I arrive at my father's room. And he's all the beds all made in my father's all dressed up. But the odds thing is the way. My father's dressed. He's wearing a flannel shirt, and he's wearing these suspenders and this kind of baseball cap, and this does not suit. My father does not illustrate my father. I mean, there's nothing to do with my father was a nightclub owner, and then he was a car salesman. And he does this is like generic grandpa wear and also my father is a Jew, and they don't wear those sorts of things benders and flannel shirts, and. It was very strange, and I was very uncomfortable with it. Because I thought that my father was sort of losing a sense of identity, you know, through this aging process and people were buying him clothes, and they didn't know who he was I pulled off the cap, and I pulled up the suspenders, and we'll my father out to the nursing station. And and I'm signing him out. You know, then they're giving me like medication dosage instructions, and and they're very kind, and then they started stuffing my carry on luggage with diapers. These adult diapers which is completely unprepared for but I didn't have time to ask any questions and we had a plane to catch. So I'm rolling my father out of the hospital. And and then I'm like, dad. Oh, by the way, do you know where we're going, and he says, yeah, we're going back east, and he sort of laughs diabolically like I'm springing from the penitentiary or something so okay? So we got to the airport, and you know, we're doing pretty well. And we arrive at the security checkout point, and I'm putting all of our, you know, carry on luggage on that conveyor belt to be extra x-rayed Rayed, and somehow in the course of negotiating all. This. I've misplaced my father. And and then I look beyond the security point my father's already gone through. And he's out there in a wheelchair. And and it's kind of it's like he's rolling it. And and they're checking me to see what I've got on me. And I'm trying to explain to them my father is rolling away. And and they don't care. And then there's nothing I can do in at that moment. I just I realize actually, you know. He is kind of helpless, and there is nothing that I can do. And but I'm going to do the best. I can. And so I kept up with him. And I get to the gate and we arrive at the gate and they're boarding the plane. And then there's that moment where you realize like, okay, a wheelchair is like this wide and like an airplane Iowa's like this wide. So how do people in wheelchairs get aboard airplanes? And I'll tell you they have this thing. It's quite it's this thing and they pulled out of nowhere. It's sort of like wheelchair and like a gurney, and like a skateboard, and it's very low and narrow and they take my father off of the wheelchair and they put him onto this gate skateboard gurney thing, and they strap him on the tilt them back and they roll him into coach. And so there we are. Now, we're we're sitting in code and my father's cut the window seat, which is lovely. And I've got you know, I'm sitting there in any way. The the thing is that were on the plane, and that we made it and that we actually we looked like people on a plane. And you know, we're like passing and. We've peel back the entrees, and we're. Eating our fettuccini or Alfredo or whatever. And it's quite nice and suddenly my father's four goes down. And then he starts tugging at a seat belt. And I say dad what and he says bathroom, and so we're, you know at the point in the plane ride where the tray tables are down in that little service carte thing is in the aisle, and everybody's eating and taking up space. My father's to go to the bathroom. And I okay. So I manage to sort of wiggle I'm out from behind those little flappy, tray tables and might get them out into the aisle. And and and he's very unstable. And I'm not really sure how we're going to get from where we are to back there where the bathroom is. And and then I think, you know, I'll be like one of those aluminum walkers that you see the elderly with and I will become a human Walker, and I face my father towards me, and I hold him in his hands like this. And I just want to do this with his much like a private dignified moment as a of Canada. And we're. You know, we're walking backwards towards the bathroom, and it's going pretty well, actually, I mean, it's a little shaking. It's this kind of odd little thing. But nobody really seems to suspect anything, and you know, it seems to be okay. And then suddenly my father sort of sticks in place, and he he stops walking. And I looked down to discover that his pants around his ankles. And that he's standing in the middle of this airplane and his diapers. And then I realized I got those suspenders were actually necessary. They just offended my sensibility. And I felt really and awful in responsible for humiliating my father, and I pull up his trousers, and I kind of bunch them up in a little wide, and I kind of continue backwards towards the bathroom and finally my back is up against the bathroom door. And we kind of turn them around. He's standing over the toilet and the doors wide open. And it seems you know, fine. And then. I'm not really sure what I need to do. Now. I'm dad, you know. Is there anything else I can do for you? And he says, yeah, you can shut the damn door, and, you know, get outta here..