Sweet, Sweet Breakfast

Sweet, Sweet Breakfast by Erin Waugh

Me: “What do you want for breakfast?”

My father: “What do you have?”

We’ve got breakfast figured out. Swallowing has become a serious challenge for my father. And it turns out that swallowing is one of the more pleasant ways to get food inside you. (There are others, but they are fetish-y and gross unless you’re into that.) Science has proven that if you don’t eat some calories, you will die from malnutrition, if you don’t first kill yourself because your daughter won’t stop talking.  

Me: “We have pancakes, French toast, eggs…”

GC: “How about soup?”                                                                                                 

Me: “Of course we have soup, but I was kind of saving that for supper. So, do you want pancakes, eggs, or French toast?”

GC: “Cream of Wheat.” 

My father only eats two meals a day: Second Breakfast and O.P. Supper. First Breakfast is a symphony of meds delivered orally (there is a god) in pill form, handi-haler, and liquid. This pharmacopeia is followed by rinsing out the mouth and spitting into a bucket. Him, too.

 Me: “Do you want that with heavy cream and brown sugar, or butter and maple syrup?”

The initial hospice nurse who came to our house to teach us how to live under the yawning awning of hospice regaled us with her well-rehearsed advices. “Sleep well, drink water, stay off the hookers.” When she got to the diet part, she added, “And you should restrict yourself to…” Then she looked at him. Really LOOKED at him. I don’t know what he weighed in the Before Time, but now he was about 42 pounds. He was tiny as a Lollypop Kid. He was barely a lollypop. “You can eat anything you want.”

Me: “What do you want for breakfast?”

Gernard: “Got any cream?”

Me: “Shall I drench something with it?”

Bingo. Substitute maple syrup where applicable. The hookers love it.


From “This Gernard” by Erin Waugh, 31 January 2020

Cashing the Checks

“Cashing the Checks”

by Erin Waugh, 01/28/2020

Took my father to the bank to cash his check. Actually, we were cashing TWO checks, one for my mom and one for my dad. If you’re reading this, you are a creature of the internet, and you will recall that ATM’s were introduced before Elvis’s passed-out belly had to be peeled off his typewriter, but none of that risky ATM digital tomfoolery for my folks. Checks must be CASHED. At BANKS. In PERSON. The checks had been delivered in the mail, another ancient ritual wherein a government agency hoists up a pony, puts a check in its teeth, and then slaps it on the flank. (“Slapping the flank” has promoted many an intern.)

Now keep in mind that right now my father cannot walk without great assistance. So cashing checks in person requires a college degree in Old People Transport. With a properly-aimed squirt of WD-40 and a backhoe, I got him in my car. I did not let him drive. I’m sensitive like that.

I drove us to the bank. My father DID allow us to drive-through instead of having to waddle and lurch into the lobby, although drive-through is only available during banker’s hours (approximately 11:00am – 12:30pm), so we collected our Go Bags and left the house after Second Breakfast. Both checks were signed by both my parents, and I had possession of both of my parents’ drivers licenses, one of which they might actually use some day. I pulled into the open bank lane, unbuckled my seatbelt, performed several yoga poses so I could reach the container, and popped the checks and the licenses into the vacuum tube. The tube shot up through a Willy Wonka life’s lesson and into the hands of a bank teller.

I rolled my window down in the cold to be polite. “Hello!” I smiled through the distance and the Plexi-glass. The teller smiled back, examined the documents, verified that she understood what I wanted, and said, “I’ll have this ready for you in just a minute.” I smiled back, rolled up my window since my politeness was done, and watched a crow pick Wendy’s fries out of a dumpster.

“Hello?” I heard the bank talking again. I rolled down my window, and turned on the charm. “Yes?” The teller looked down and the checks she was fingering and inquired: “Do you have either of them with you?” She couldn’t see my father in the passenger seat as he was tiny and cold and blocked from the teller’s view by my ego. I tapped him on the shoulder. “Gernard, she needs to know you’re here.”

My dad leaned forward and raised his right hand. It was limited in its reach by the handcuff that restricted both wrists. He sort of clanked and waved with both hands because he is polite all the time. He couldn’t really articulate his presence, as the duct tape over his mouth precluded decent conversation. The seat belt kept him from leaping out of the car altogether, as it was additionally secured by padlocks and fire ants.

“Okay, thanks, Gernard. Nice to see you again,” the teller smiled. Two minutes later I counted the money out loud to him, cursing because the bills were too clean and I had run out of spit.

True fact: every paragraph is accurate except one.


From “This Gernard” by Erin Waugh 28 January 2020