It happens to me sometimes- an insistent thought that pesters me into mobility. Even in the quiet, coffee fuelled space of a sacred Sunday morning.
I haven't gone to church with my parents for about twenty-five years or more.
But this morning, I got that urge. So I made my way to the Kehlers to find mom's Sunday shoes waiting by the door. Dad had on his grey wool suit and asked mom twice if he had written a cheque to the church yet this month? He told me that his legs weren't working this morning, and when he wasn't looking, mom told me he refused to use his walker and that he wouldn't stop eating tomatoes.
I didn't mean to, but a few tears rolled down my cheeks when mom asked- why do you come to Steinbach for church when you have a church in your own town? And I told her- I thought it was "A God Thing". Which is what I say when I get the weird urges to do these things. But I was crying too for dead babies, and old dads who get tottery and forgetful, and the impossibility of it all.
Then dad asked mom- "Where'd I put the cheque book?" and I thought about my dignified dad whose worst fear was becoming a burden, losing his mind, and losing his body.
We were early for church, which we drove two blocks down the street to and parked in handicap zone right in front of the door to wait for the church to empty from German service. Dad asked- where did we regularly attend church? I paused and said- we're not so regular, dad. And I sighed but no more tears leaked down.
The message was about the sign of the beast and fire breathing dragons and there was some mention of Robin Williams dying because even though he had it all, there was some unbearable emptiness left in him that couldn't be filled.
I suddenly felt terribly, terribly tired.
In the afternoon, I went to church again.
There were songs and words and a lot of tears.
And there wasn't a single word that could really fill that unbearable emptiness.
Outside, the sun shone impossibly warm and the trees dropped lively orange onto the green grasses. Two babies tottered across the parking lot crying "Mo? Mo?" and eating their mama's offerings like baby birds.
While my old dad looked around for his cane, and his tomatoes, and his chequebook.