Sunday, June 29, 2008

More LA Stories: 2005 (Part X)

Days Three and Four — Monday/Tuesday (continued):
He Got Walkin’ Fingers…

Soon after arriving back at the Center, Dad, Helen and I went out for Mexican, and engaged in what would be the first of many conversations about what was going on in AJ’s world. They wanted to know the latest about grandkids’ Shawn and Amy’s college exploits and all about Michelle’s goings-on.

We did a lot of talking over my two days in Hemet, but I can honestly say that none of it grew stale. I love hearing my Dad’s stories, no matter how many times he forgets he’s already told them. He’s just such a great guy, with so much zest for life, even after 83 years on the planet and all the heartbreak and crap he’s had to deal with. Sometimes the gleam in his eye is downright blinding.

Dialing for Brothers
Also while I was there I had nice conversations with two of my remaining three brothers. No, they didn’t suddenly show up at the door. Instead, we let our fingers do the walking.

Dad calls Alex at least once a week, both to monitor his progress and to maximize the fleeting time he has to spend with his baby boy, who has been stricken with the family curse of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. He’s still holding up very well after thirteen months on the Alzheimer’s-impeding drugs, Aracept and Namenda, but the die is indeed cast, and it will only be a matter of time before such communication with him will become impossible.

So I had another opportunity to have a long, yet difficult talk with my precious bro — which is why I call him so seldom. What a horrible paradox this has become for me. I want desperately to spend time with him, but I just can’t make myself sit down and call for the heartache and frustration involved in trying to communicate with him. Used to be that I knew it was no big deal if we went six month between phone calls — it went both ways, so I never worried about it. Now I worry about it. Old habits are hard to break, but this one is just devastating.

I hate myself for it.

Instant Karma
Also while I was there, my directly elder brother, Kenny called from his home in Taiwan. That’s right, I said Taiwan, as in The Republic of China Taiwan. And sheesh…speaking of walking fingers, mine felt like they’d just run a marathon after I got through writing out Kenny’s mailing address and phone number in Taipei during my phone conversation with him. Apparently they don’t do short addresses over there. My hand was starting to cramp up fer petesakes.

Kenny used to be somewhat of a jet-setter, spending about a third of his time in Los Angeles, where he needed to be to tend to his various entrepreneurial interests. He kept an apartment in Pasadena and visited Dad and Helen often. But now he lives in Taiwan full-time, choosing to be closer to home to spend time with his wife and growing family.

Hmm…perhaps I should have said, instant family.

Kenny is a trip, and always an interesting person to talk to. He’s Type-A-all-the-way; he’s a successful businessman and has done well for himself in the business world. He’s not one for doing things half-assed. And now it appears he’s jumped into fatherhood much the same way.

Following years of frustration from unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy, Kenny and his wife decided it was time to give nature a little help. They decided to give fertility drugs a go, and the results were more successful than they probably hoped.

The initial pregnancy in 2002 produced a single child, a little girl, but they weren’t stopping there (I think you probably see where this is going). Thirteen months later: triplets — all boys. And then again earlier this year: twin girls.

Between the ages of 49 and 52, my brother went from zero to six(ty).

They’ve now shut down the baby factory, but even as someone who came from a large family of five boys himself; even the talkative Kenny was a bit blown away by it all. The man is excited to be a Dad — but six kids in three years? Aye-yi-yi…

And in case you had any doubt, his kids do come from pretty good stock on both sides (if I may be allowed to boast just a little); so needless to say, they’re all gorgeous. They also carry more than just a modicum of local celebrity, not only because of the circumstances involving their conception, but also for being fathered by an Anglo-American. They’ve been on TeeVee on several occasions, on talkshows, as well as local commercials.

I really couldn’t be happier for my bro.

But in the end it was all about Dadtime. It was great to spend time with my Pop and Helen. We didn’t really go anywhere, except out to dinner on Monday night and then on Tuesday, once again, thanks to the generosity of my friend Cindy, Dad and I took in the Angels vs. the Toronto Bluejays game in Anaheim.

All the rest of the time we just hung out and talked. As he always does now whenever I see him, Dad requested some reading material from my blog, so I had printed out (and was amazed at the number of pages it took) my series from the 2004 trip, and delivered it to him when I arrived.

We talked again about him possibly taking some time to writing out his own memories from what I view as a fascinating and full life for my hero; my Dad. At last report, he still hadn’t started, but he’s gonna get to it soon, he promises.

That’s right, boys and girls, I come by it honestly.

Next: Day Five — Wednesday:
“From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California…”
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