The Man In The Red Dress

Red Party Dress from Target - $19.99Kay and I are just back from the hospital. James won’t go there. I think it’s just too much for him, and I’m OK with that.

Aunt Helen was awake for a while, and was sort of in and out of lucidity. She’s really struggling to speak, but occasionally manages to find the words and force them out. She asked Kay if there were any boys she liked, to which Kay replied, “No. Boys all have cooties.” I’m never really sure how serious she is when she says that, but it’s funny coming from her, and Aunt Helen thought so. She even laughed a little bit.

Going to visit gets harder each time for me. Each visit brings us one day closer to a trip to the ladies’ department at J.C. Penney’s. I’ve mentioned my promise to Aunt Helen before, that I would wear a red party dress and matching pumps to her funeral.

Aunt Helen doesn’t want a bunch of mourners at her funeral, she wants a party. She wants her life to be celebrated, rather than mourned for its loss. She once told me that she didn’t want people to wear black, but rather to put on their best red party dress. She specifically wants red, because when she was young her mother scolded her once for wearing a red dress to church bringing my young cousin to a funeral wearing a red dress. Red was the color for whores, my grandmother told her. Aunt Helen has a defiant streak, I suppose.

That’s when I told her I would do just that. I would go out and buy myself a red party dress and matching pumps. I promised to wear them to her funeral. I was half-joking. She was not.

While I’m fairly certain that a party’s going to be impossible, I’ll do the best I can for her and wear the dress and pumps.

I guess it’s one thing to promise such things in the abstract, another thing entirely to look that promise right in the eye as her trip to California draws near, far too quickly and far too soon. Still, I fully intend to keep my promise to her. I imagine it will cause quite a ruckus, but I made that promise, and Aunt Helen, even now, hasn’t forgotten it.Red Party Dress

It’s not that I don’t want to wear the dress, really. It’s not even the prospect of shaving my very hairy legs. It wouldn’t be the first time for either of those occurrences, but I won’t get into that just now. What’s killing me is of course that I don’t want to face the occasion of having to wear the dress.

When I was nearly incapable of staying any longer for fear of a major melt-down in front of my daughter, Aunt Helen told us we needed to leave because she had to go to the bathroom. As I left, I smiled as best I could, and told her to get better because I wasn’t ready to go buy a red dress. I wasn’t sure whether she would get what I was getting at.

She smiled. She laughed. She spoke.

“You better go get the dress. It’s time.”

oh shit.

16 Responses to “The Man In The Red Dress”

  1. Amanda Says:

    All I can offer is an e-hug…

  2. Lou FCD Says:

    Well in that case, I e-accept.


  3. anothersadsong Says:

    You know it’s okay to have a major melt down in front of me. It really is. I don’t want you to bottle up because you know it’s not healthy to do that. I may just be your sixteen year old daughter, but you know that I know it’s okay to break down every so often. Everyone has their moments. You’re not any less of a man for breaking down…unless I tell someone, then you are. But I’m the good child and I wouldn’t do that.

    I love you.

  4. Lou FCD Says:

    I love you too.


  5. Infophile Says:

    I’m sorry to hear this is happening, and you have my sympathy. All the deaths in my family so far have been sudden affairs, so I don’t really know what it’s like to be anticipating one. Cherish every remaining moment, I guess. It may be a cliche, but it wouldn’t have gotten that way if it weren’t good advice.

    *offers e-hug as well*

  6. Lou FCD Says:

    *e-accepts e-hug*

    Thanks, Infophile.

    As it happens this is additionally painful for us as we lost my mother-in-law just a few years ago to a very similar type of cancer, and just a few years before that we lost Aunt Helen’s oldest sibling, Aunt Cass, to breast cancer.

    We are all-too-familiar with this scenario.

  7. Elizabeth Wood Says:

    Much sympathy coming your way Lou. Will and I are thinking of you. It sounds like you’ve got practice at this, but I’m not sure that ever really makes it easier. Each trip to California is different somehow. Anyway, you and your family are in our thoughts.

  8. Lou FCD Says:

    Thank you, Elizabeth. You’re right of course. It never gets easier, it’s always different, and always painful.

    At least we know what to expect though, which reduces the fear of the unknown a little, and helps us to help other family members.

    It’s good to see you here.

  9. Elizabeth Wood Says:

    Fear of the unknown is a large part of the awfulness and anxiety and it’s good to have that out of the way. The sense of loss itself and the grief that goes with it, of course, is intensely personal and different each time I’d imagine. My father was relocated to California when I was a kid, and that felt entirely different from when my grandfather’s each went to California many years apart from one another, and quite different from when Will’s dad went this March. Yet each time someone has gone the anxiety and fear part has been lessened even if the grief part has not. At least that’s something.
    Thinking of you,
    Ps: Nonsequitor: My “leave a comment” window is jut opposite your “Philadelphia Flyers News” stream. I mostly grew up in a suburb of Philly and my mom lives in the city now and is an avid sports fan. Made me smile to see that!

  10. Lou FCD Says:

    Thank you for your kind thoughts, Elizabeth.

    My wife and I stopped by the hospital for a while tonight, and it was not at all a good visit. We apparently timed our visit rather poorly, after the morphine was in full force I think.

    There were powerful resemblances to my mother-in-law in Aunt Helen’s behaviors, and it was too much for either of us to bear for long.

    Thank you to both you and Will for your kindness.

    P.S. I also grew up just outside the city limits, Abington, Warminster, Hatboro/Horsham area, and I loves me some Flyboys now! I’ll root for the ‘Canes if they’re not playing the Flyers, but I bleed Orange And Black, and I worship at the altar of Lord Stanley’s visit to the City of Brotherly Shove.

    Bernie, Bobby, Rick, and Reggie,
    Hallowed be thy names.
    Bill’s kingdom come,
    Fred’s will be done,
    The Russians left the game.

    (I just wrote that, I claim CC license!)

  11. Lou FCD Says:

    P.P.S. Big kisses to your Mama!

  12. Crowded Head, Cozy Bed Family Updates « Says:

    […] will in all probability never leave there. Her lucidity is intermittent. It is very nearly time for The Red Dress. The family is coping as well as they can, each member in his/her own […]

  13. damewiggy Says:

    I had to reach for tissues.

    My heart really goes out to you.

    And here’s to you for holding a promise so close to your heart.


  14. Lou FCD Says:

    Thank you Dame.

    She’d be proud because I only spent $6.50 on it, and I make that dress look good.


    *hugs back*

  15. Ftk - Private Eye « UDreamOfJanie Says:

    […] just jealous that The Boy has a better figure than you (I think he looks great, and he wore it for a damned good reason full backstory here). Also, you’re just mad because the UD boys were all swooning over me […]

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