“Life is strange, isn’t it?”
— Ann Dunham
“You must try the shad!”
I appear to be in a market that sells fish in old England, somewhere between Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” and Boris Johnson’s “Brexit Blues.”
I’m trying to buy haddock. In the dream, I don’t think I had ever tasted haddock (in real life, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted “fish”), but I’m concerned with buying something that provides a proper pun.
I reason that haddock will allow me to allude to my favorite Aerosmith album from my college days, “Toys in the Attic.” I can serve a meal with the Hawaiian staple and bill it as “Pois and the Haddock.” More people should buy their seafood based on this premise.
The fish seller is undeterred. “Shad” she insists. “Buy the shad.”
I find myself unable to come up with a single pun for it. Shad, but true. So I decline, and ask for a pound of haddock.
As I’m checking out, the woman is whispering something to the guy ringing me up. Yes, they ring up during this particular time in England. He shrugs, takes my money and sends me on my way.
When I get home, I unwrap my bounty. Which turns out to be shad. And then I realize. The song will be the timeless Huffamoose classic, “We’ve Been Shad Again.” I realize I have no idea how to cook fish, or any particular interest in eating it. I wander off to listen to Huffamoose. Yes, they have iTunes in ancient England.
And then I wake up.
Someone from the neurology team called last night. Apparently, we’re on the list just behind her only nephew, who lives 1,937.8 miles from here, give or take a mile for roadwork, so we’re in the hot seat for making decisions.
It sounds like a long road ahead. And they don’t think she’ll be able to drive anymore, making the road even longer. Maybe a stroke, seizures, something going on in her brain but they’re not sure what. The neurology person talked about rehab and independence and options. Fish never came up.
She’s the world’s most fiercely independent woman, and I feel that slipping away. Things will never be the same. But maybe that’s OK.
As Obama’s mom stared cancer down, he tried to get her to move from Hawaii to Chicago. She replied simply: “I’d rather be someplace familiar and warm.”
Maybe that’s all we can do at this point. She moved from the Midwest after her radio and TV career ended, smitten with a land that was warm. And now it’s familiar.
Life is all about routines. Cheerios for breakfast, the morning crossword puzzle, chicken and vegetables for lunch (DON’T BUY THE VEGETABLES WITH CREAM SAUCE, YOU MORON), the rest of the paper early afternoon followed by a mystery novel, a happy hour martini and a chaser of Maddow. She is adamant that she doesn’t want to give it up.
I remember for the millionth time why I never became an adult. It’s hard.
I suspect she will have to give up some things she holds dear, her beloved minivan being the first in a series of hard decisions. Still, John Cleese and Graham Chapman said it best in Holy Grail: “I’m not dead yet.” Of course, they also said ‘RUN AWAY” when the bunny showed up, so they may not be the best source material for this dilemma.
After a half hour or so talking with the neurology person, we have a plan. We just don’t know what it is yet. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Maybe that’s what the dream was trying to tell me. Life isn’t SUPPOSED to make sense. Just wrap it up and deal with what you have when you get home. There’s always a catch.
Pois in the haddock, indeed.