Reta Hirschfeld, Alonzo, Aloha discussed on The Moth Radio Hour


Radio hour. I'm Meg both. Our next story is from Tampa Jenkins was told back in two thousand and 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 hear Sammer Jenkins live with the mouth. 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. Mom, 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, and I said who's going on the big trip. And she 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 as 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 laundry room and the free parking me and my Hamilton collection of limited edition gone with the wind plates. Or you could continue living with those 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 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 read Horsfield has had a stroke, and we had to hire 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 longer either and actually Tammi. 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 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, oh, and I also want you to know that your father's 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 gonna to pull 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 sign 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 and a really long time, and we get to the hospital and he's in a hospital bed. Now, he's quite all these like eighty six years old, and he's laying there, and it's all very sort of sarcophagus strange feeling in the room. And and I'm and 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 hog 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 them that I've been living on the eastern seaboard for the last eighteen years and. I'm sorry. I'm late dad. So I am time my father, and apparently he's going to be released in a few days and everything's set with Alonzo. 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 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 Hirschfeld 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 and Aloha. So now, my father 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 call my big brother, and he immediately starts scrambling to find some sort of acidity 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 they're explaining it's not a nursing home. And I can't drive and I'm in LA. And my brother calls me, he finds a place, and it's going to 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 doesn't offer compassion. They only offer bereavement. So if you're 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 odd 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. This 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 aware. 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 is sort of losing a sense of identity 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 all my father out to the nursing station. And and I'm signing him out. You know, then they're giving me like medication and dosage instructions, and and they're very kind and then they start 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 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's sort of laughs diabolically like I'm springing from the penitentiary or something so okay? So we get 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 carry on luggage on that conveyor belt to extra X Rayed, and somehow in the course of negotiate. All of 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 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, that 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. I always 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 a wheelchair and like a gurney escape. Board and it's very low and narrow and they take my father off of the wheelchair and they put him onto this skate skateboard gurney thing, and they strap him on the Tilton back and they roll him into coach. And so there we are. Now, we're we're sitting in code and my father's window seat. Which is lovely. And I've got you know, I'm sitting there in any way, the the things that were on the plane, and we made it and that we actually we looked like people on a plane. And 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, and he says bathroom, and so weird, 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 to go to the bathroom. And I so I manage to sort of wiggle out from behind those little flappy tray tables and get them out into the aisle. 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 as much, you know, like a private dignified moment as a matter of Canada. And we're. Sort of you know, we're walking backwards towards the bathroom, and it's going pretty well, actually, I mean, it's a little shaky and 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 oh my God. This 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 get outta here. So I shut the door and we arrive at Logan airport horrible, disgusting Logan airport, and it's winter, and it's disgusting and snowy and ice piles and wretched, and we get out to the curb and my brothers there in his little Camry..

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