“There was nothing we could do, I’m sorry son.”
Those words will haunt me for the rest of my life. I felt numb. This trip was suppose to be the trip of a lifetime. Just me and grandpa. Now, all I have to remember this time, this part of my life, is how this trip that I begged for years to go on killed him. I would never get my grandpa back.
I sat there in the hospital in Cairo, feeling numb. Some type of authority came by and asked for my emergency contacts so that they could call them and have someone pick me up. I told them I would make the call. I couldn’t allow some random heavy-accented guy call up my dad and tell him his own father is dead. Not only that, they would have to go through my great-grandmother to get to him. I couldn’t let them put her through that as well.
Thirteen hours later I was asleep in the hospital lounge awaiting for dad. I found that authority guy after spending what seemed like hours on the phone with dad, in reality it was more like twenty minutes.
I felt someone nudge me awake. “Parker.” I heard the faint whisper. “Parker.”
I opened my eyes and saw dad standing over me. “Dad?” He didn’t say much. He didn’t need to.
I stood and hugged him, burying my reddened face. My eyes were dry, but I still managed to cry. “Dad. I’m sorry.”
“Hey, now, it’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.” He rubbed my back. I could hear him cry. “I’m just sorry I couldn’t get here sooner.”
I don’t remember a whole lot of the next day at the hospital. I slept pretty much all day. Dad took care of everything. He brought whatever paper’s he needed to claim that he was actually my dad and that he was actually now my guardian. Then he talked to the doctor and was able to get the body handed over to us. Dad had him cremated. Grandpa’s one wish was to be with his parents when he died. We would spread his ashes along the riverbed in Bridgeport. Dad also called home a lot. . . I think. All I know he was on the phone a lot of the time we were in the hospital.
He took me to a quiet hotel room after he finished what he needed at the hospital. I kicked off my shoes and sat on one of the beds and turned on the television. Dad followed my example and did the same. “So what happens now?” I asked after flipping through the limited cable and not finding anything in English.
“Tomorrow we go home.” He answered.
“Which home? Mine or yours?” I had finally given up on dad ever excepting me into his home, and then a few years ago he asked me to move in. That was also the same time grandpa made a huge deal with me about taking me to Egypt. I opted for the Egypt trip, although now I wish I didn’t.
“First we’ll go to Riverview to pack your things. I also have to sell the house.”
“WHAT! You CANNOT sell the farm!” I yelled. “It’s not yours to sell.”
“Actually it is. He left the house to Alice and I. We’ve been on the phone all day and decided that selling is the best idea. I’m sorry.”
We sat for a while. I was pissed, I really loved the farm.
It was silent for a long while. We were both crying and watching the television on mute. I finally asked the question that had been on my mind for a while. “You call grandma and grandpa Mike?”
“No. I’m still not sure what to tell mom.”
“Do you want me to break the news?” I asked. I figured I’d give my dad one break. He and grandma hardly spoke. Actually I think at his wedding was the first time they saw each other since I was born.
“If you want.” He shrugged. “I can.” I eyed him curiously, and for the first time since he got to Egypt he laughed, “What? You don’t think I could call my own mother?”
I called grandma. I would have liked to gone over and told her when we got home, but I wasn’t allowed at their house. Something about sending a dead ferret’s head to Susan got me banned from the house. (Yes, I know, I am a genius. I’d also like to point out that I did not kill the ferret, he was road kill long before I chopped off the head.)
Grandma answered after the second ring, “Hello.”
“Grandma, are you sitting down?” I said somberly. Dad looked at me and stood to give me support.
“No. Why? What’s wrong Parker?”
“Grandpa. . . grandpa. . .” I started to cry. Dad took the phone from me.
“Mom, dad passed away yesterday” He said in a soft tone. I broke down and dad wrapped his arm around me as he spoke “. . . Parker found him screaming in pain while they fished at the Nile. He was bit by some type of poisonous snake. . . They said it was a black-something. It’s one of the deadliest snakes in the world. . . No, he’s fine. . . Listen, we’re heading to Riverview tomorrow to pack. Parker’s moving in with Claire and me. . . No, I don’t need anything. . . I’m fine. . . Yea, I’m sorry too. . . . He loved you, you know that right? You were his everything, even if he wasn’t yours. . . I love you too.” They hung up. Dad said the last line almost with clenched teeth. That had to be hard to say.
He wrapped both arms around me and held me. “It’s okay Park.” He said. I could hear him crying too. “Everything is going to be okay, son.”
“I miss him. He was. . . I need him, dad.”
“I know.” He whispered and kissed me on the top of my head. I felt something wet drop on my forehead, he was crying too.
On the plane I finally brought up the living situation. “Do we have to move to Bridgeport? Why can’t I just stay with Aunt Ally and Uncle Rod?” I whined. I really didn’t want to move. I loved the farm. It’s home.
“Parker, when I left you, dad made me agree to one term. He made me promise that if anything were to happened to him that I would ‘finally’, take responsibility as a father. I am not going back on that promise.” He used finger quotes to emphasize the word ‘finally’. I chuckled a bit. He was a good guy, a terrible father, but a good guy. “You’re moving to Bridgeport, because that’s where our family lives.”
“You all could move to Riverview and move into grandpa’s place.”
He laughed. “Yea, like that would ever happened. Parker, first, I hate that place. Second, I am CEO of a large bank, I can’t just up and leave. Also, there’s only two bedrooms in that house. Where would you and Leslie sleep?”
“You shared the room with Aunt Ally.” I pointed out. Granted I was not going to share a room with my little brat of a sister.
“Not by choice, believe me. It’ll be great living in the city. You’ll have your own room. You’ll make new friends. You won’t have Susan to bother you. You get to start out fresh.”
“What does Claire think of this? Or have you even told her?”
“SHIT!” He screamed. He started to shake his head. “I am so fucked.”
I started to laugh. “Seriously? You forgot to call Claire?”
“I left work in a rush to the airport, freaking out the entire time. I also had to contend with grandma, and forcing her to stay behind and to cancel everything. When I arrived to get you I was just so busy, it just slipped my mind.”
“She is going to kill you. You know that, right? You left her and a three year old to go to Egypt.”
“Fuck.” Dad yelled guiltily. “God, she really is gonna kill me.” I nodded in agreement. “I even left Les screaming in her arms when I headed to work.”
“It’s not like you’ve NEVER left your own children before.” I joked. He gave me a look that I’m pretty sure meant, ‘don’t go there.’ “Oh come on dad, it’s a joke.”
He finally smiled, “Yea, I know.”
As soon as we landed and were waiting for dad’s limo at the airport dad got on his phone and called his wife. “Hey love.” Gag me now! “I’ve been better. . . He’s holding up. We just landed. . . No, we have to head to Riverview first to pack the house up. . . No, we’ve got this. It’ll only be a few days. How’s my girl? . . . Mad, huh. Tell her I love her and that daddy will be home soon. How’s my other girl? . . . I’m sorry. I meant to call, I really did. . . . Yea, I know I owe you. I’ll see you in a few days. . . Love you too.”
He hung up and looked at me. “You have got to love grandma. She called her as soon as I left, knowing that I probably wouldn’t.”
“Bet she’s still pissed.”
“Oh yea.” He nodded and we both made a small chuckle before getting into dad’s limo. He told the driver to take us to my address in Riverview. The driver, Bill, told him no problem and we headed out.
In the limo dad and I talked about everything. He and I hadn’t seen much of each other since my sister’s first birthday. (She’s three.) It’s not that we didn’t want to. We’ve been both super busy. He finally commented me on my light stubble. “You grow that out in Egypt or is that something I’m gonna have to get use to?”
“I’m not shaving if that’s what your asking. I like it, I’m gonna keep it.”
“We’ll see.” Dad threatened. I really didn’t like his tone. It was as if he knew something that I didn’t. Claire wasn’t going to make me, she, I like to point out is not my mother so she has no say. Granted my biological mother also has no say, seeing as how I have no clue to who she is. Dad and grandpa never said her name and when I pried they changed the subject.
“Claire can’t make me either.”
“She’s not my mom.”
“Again, true. Parker, Claire and I don’t ever expect you to think of her as anything but a step-mother. However, you are going to be nice to her. She’s more of a mother than the girl I knocked up fourteen years ago.”
“I’m nice to her.” I defended. Seriously though, I really just ignore her presence. I like her, it’s just I’ve gone this long without a mother, I don’t really think I need one now. “Speaking of which dad, who is the girl you knocked up?”
“Um. . . I don’t remember. Hey you ready for high school?” See, change of subject.
“Dad?” I asked.
He chuckled. “What?” He shrugged and held both hands up. The jerk knew the identity to my biological mother, and someday I would get him to talk. I would at least like a name.
At home, when we actually arrived, Aunt Ally came by to help. She and dad cried and held each other for ever. I hugged her as well. She looked like a mess. “You doing okay, bud?” She asked.
“Yea. I guess. I don’t really want to move.” I pouted. “Could I stay with you and Uncle Rod?”
“Sorry bud, we’re full over at our place. Don’t worry, your dad isn’t that bad.”
“Do you really have to sell the farm?”
“We do. It pains me Parker, but with my own farm to contend with, I just can’t take on a second property. Don’t worry, I’ll find someone that will care for it, and give it as much love as dad gave it.”
I headed to my room with a few boxes. Dad was in there.
I’d like to point out, my room is the greatest place ever (when it’s decorated). I have two idols in my life, one being James Bond, and the other being Indiana Jones. What I wouldn’t give to go out on an adventure to find lost relics, as well as fight international crime. Seriously, I want to be a spy when I’m older.
That was one thing I was going to miss about grandpa, we loved to watch old James Bond flicks. I remember him and I always talking about the different gadgets and how Q was a genius. The movies were way before their time, the science behind Q’s little gadgets were way beyond the films years. Grandpa always made me cover my eyes when there was a sex scene, which I did. Although I looked through my fingers and watched the scene unfold.
Dad and I stayed at the house over night. The next day we packed the few boxes that were going with us in the limo and we were on our way. I took one look back at my home and I allowed a tear to fall. My eyes were sore it burned. I was very surprised that I even had enough moisture left in my eyes to allow that single tear. Dad held me as we drove off, and I placed my head on his shoulder and fell asleep. I knew he had to be hurting, but every time I started to cry or weep, he was right there helping me through the pain.
We arrived at my new home and headed up to dad’s three bedroom apartment. I went from living in a nice country home to an apartment in the city. I loathed it. I loved living in a house. As soon as dad walked through the doors we were met by my bratty little sister, Leslie. She ran straight to dad and screamed, “DADDA!”
Dad picked her up and kissed her. “Have you been a good girl?” She nodded, I didn’t believe her.
Claire walked in just as he put Leslie down. She came and gave dad a hug, and he kissed her. I audibly gagged at the kiss and was met with a kick from dad. Claire looked at me and hugged me, “I am so sorry Parker.”
“I set your room up. I hope you like it. I wasn’t too sure what you had back at home, so I just bought what I thought you needed.”
“Uh thanks.” I said. I felt a bit awkward. I didn’t know how to respond. I hated that this was my life. I wanted to be home. I wanted to be with grandpa.
I walked in to my room and was in awe. Claire set up the perfect spy room. I even had James Bond blankets on my bed. The computer was brand new. I just didn’t know what to say or do. The only thing that was missing were my posters. I wanted to cry, but I just couldn’t.
Dad walked in behind me with my little sister in tow. “Whoa, she really outdid herself.” I stayed silent. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t speak. “You thank her, okay. She didn’t have to do this.”
He laughed, “Come on, lets go grab your things. Bill is still double parked.”
That night, I went to say goodnight (it was something grandpa and I did) when I spotted dad and Claire in the living room. Dad was crying in Claire’s arms. I felt horrible. All this time that he’s been around me and helping me, I never even considered how he was handling this. Dad and grandpa hardly saw eye-to-eye, but I didn’t think my dad would be in so much pain.
I quietly backed away from the doorway and headed to bed. I didn’t want to interrupt. Dad needed this moment.
In bed I cried myself to sleep. I kept dreaming and picturing grandpa. I had flashbacks of my life with him and wished he was here. All those moments were gone and I knew that there would never be another one with him. I woke up with burning eyes and to the cries of someone besides me. I looked out my window and realized that it wasn’t even morning.
I found dad holding Leslie in her room. He looked like he hadn’t slept in a month. “Dad, do you know what time it is?” I said a bit rudely.
“Sorry. Go back to bed. I got her now.” He looked at Leslie, “Come on Les, lets get some food. We’re not going to throw anything today, are we?” She shook her head and said, “No.” Dad laughed and kissed her. I went to bed.
In the actual morning I finally decided to give dad some comfort. I found him watching the morning news and sat next to him. He turned it off just as I sat. “Hey, Park, you doing okay this morning?
I yawned and kept my tears to myself. I nodded and then just looked at him. He had to be hurting, I just knew he had to be. “Dad, I’m sorry. You lost your dad, and I’ve been so emotional I haven’t even considered how you’ve been coping. I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t be.” He said. “I can handle it. You shouldn’t have to comfort me, I should be comforting you.” He wrapped an arm around me. “Parker, I love you.”
“I love you too.” I said sincerely.
Two days after I moved into the house, dad and I met my nana and Uncle Jake at the riverbed. We spread my grandfather’s ashes. As I watched the water take away my grandfather, I couldn’t help but picture in my mind the last adventure we had together.
Egypt was the greatest place I had ever been. Just hours before grandpa was bit, we had explored a tomb. I found some simple relics that I have now displayed appropriately at home. It was one amazing adventure and I was happy that I got to spend the last few moments with the only man that ever really cared enough about me. He didn’t have to raise me. He could have dropped me off at dad’s studio apartment and forced him to raise me (like he should have done), but he didn’t. He gave me the greatest moments in my life, and I’m thankful I have those moments. I don’t know how I am going to live without him at my side, telling me what to do, and showing me new things, but I have to move on.
The Egyptian Doctor is “played” by the amazing Zaki Kendrick from Hrootbeer’s Kedrick Legacy.