Fox Hill

John an NBC sports broadcaster had just returned from doing interviews before the All-Star basketball game which was to be held in New York. Living in New Jersey now he was regularly able to stop in New York to see his father. He noticed at Thanksgiving that there were some physical changes occurring in his dad, and he worried that since his mother’s death the changes were becoming more and more significant.  it was difficult for John, as with all children, to  watch their parents age because his father had always been such a vibrant dynamic force in his life. As recent as two days ago he had discussed the situation with his sister, but had no immediate thoughts that the hard-boiled egg incident was not some isolated event. After significant conversation with his sister they decided that it was appropriate and timely for them to spent some time with their father and try to convince him that it was time to move toward a more appropriate setting.

 

Salvatore was aware that the hard-boiled egg incident was merely the tip of the iceberg. Everyone his age experiences senior moments, but it appears that lately they were more frequent ,and at times somewhat confusing. Life had not been the same since Helen died, and he placed a lot of his difficulties onto the grief process. There was absolutely no way under any set of circumstances that his life had not been dramatically changed because of her death. It was not only the fact that she died ,but it was the circumstances; it was so immediate so impactful. He kissed her breakfast and said he would meet her that evening for dinner. That afternoon he received a phone call from the CEO of the hospital. His immediate reaction was I’m sorry Helen is not home.There was a long pause before the CEO conveyed the absolute devastating message that Helen had an aneurysm in the ER and collapsed and by the time they reached her it was too late ,she was dead. Those words keep going over and over  in his mind as if there was a hydraulic drill piercing his brain.” Helen is dead ,Helen is dead “,There was no way he could immediately understand that because that morning she was vibrant ,alive and now this phone call was telling him that she was gone. He thought maybe this is a dream, and when I wake up Helen is fine  ,and soon she will be home and we  will go out to dinner; but all of this was in vain. The reality was he was alone, and there was no substitute that could fill the wondrous experience and love that he had shared for over 40 years with marvelous woman.

 

There was a knock at the door, slowly Sal closed the suitcase and walked down the corridor and turned the doorknob.. His son John was sheepishly standing there .”HI Dad ” John said as  he embraced and kissed him in the usual fashion that had been their custom for years. Salvatore squeezed him harder than usual, and felt the glimmer of a tear in his eye.” I guess it’s that time when I have to say goodbye to this place that I have lived with your mother for over 20 years.” John shrugged and said” I know it must be tough dad but I think that the place you’re going is really quite terrific. I remember Mom at one point in time saying that in the future she thought Fox Hill might be an appropriate place for both of you to spend your golden years.”” Golden years”?John you can do better than that.. What the hell is so golden about the fact that I’m leaving a place I most love, where  I spent years  with your mother to go to some old-age farm where my primary responsibility will be to wait for the Grim Reaper?.” Those words struck John like a sledgehammer, and he was somewhat lost for a reply.What could he say? What would make a difference at this moment ? He thought perhaps he  just should keep silent . He picked up two of the suitcases and said” the moving van will be here tomorrow to take the furniture and art work that will go to Fox Hill. The rest will be kept at my home. and you can decide later what pieces should be brought to Fox Hill. Risa will be here to make sure it all goes well.”

Closing the door Salvatore turned the key and started toward the elevator, but wistfully turned once more to gaze at the home he was leaving forever.

The ride to Fox Hill was only about 20 minutes but. the traffic was extremely heavy between 7:30 and 9 in the morning.. The conversation between John and Sal seemed stifled and almost unnatural. They always had a very warm loving an open relationship between them , but John sensed his father’s pain and anxiety. This was another verification of his mother’s death, and one by one his father was being stripped of all that was known and natural .The twisted look on his father’s face mirrored the anguish of his soul

The trees were starting to change on both sides of the Parkway and the colors of green, orange and red were absolutely beautiful, but they paid scant attention to the vista. The beauty of the New York landscape went completely unnoticed..  The constant bumper to bumper traffic finally opened up  and John exited the Parkway.l..He knew that the tension would become more pronounced  because they were about six or 7 min. away from the entrance to Fox Hill. Salvatore  remained silent apparently reluctantly resigned to the fact that he was leaving his normal environment. Memory is a wonderful thing that one draws on at a time like this, For John the key  memories of his father were that he was always vibrant, alive, funny and in many respects the  life of the party. A friend of his once commented that “your mother is the heart of the party while your father is the one that makes the house filled with laughter. That summation was so real for John remembering their home was always filled with chatter laughter .He believed that no matter what would be confronted in life there was always a way to handle any major challenge. All that seemed so distant and remote, and he wished he could turn back the clock but now he felt somewhat chagrined that he was consigning his father to a place where  his father did not want to go. Both he and Risa offered to have him move in with them, but he out of hand dismissed the offers, He appreciated their generosity offer but said that there would be no way that he would like to inflict that kind of responsibility on them at this stage of the game.

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