On the home front, the year opened with the inexplicable rupture of a whole-house water filter on January 2, a mishap that left four inches of water in the basement, ruining a bunch of Jamie’s books and DVDs; it closes as I return from visiting my father, who is intubated and unconscious after triple-bypass heart surgery. We didn’t know he would be unconscious for my entire visit—I learned that via a phone call from my sister only after Nick, Jamie and I had gotten halfway through a seven-hour drive. Our assumption was that at some point he would be conscious but unable to communicate, which is why I did what any dutiful son would do, namely, bring a copy of A Year on Ice, Gerald Eskanazi’s chronicle of the New York Rangers’ 1969-70 season, to read to him at his bedside. When that plan fell through, we videotaped a bunch of messages for him (including my rendition of the final game of the Rangers’ regular season, April 5, 1970, which was the most exciting thing a nine-year-old kid could possibly hope to see—thanks for taking me, Dad!) and I’ll go back when he’s back home, which should be in a few weeks.
And oh yes, in March Lucy the Dog died after thirteen and a half years of faithfully guarding the house, playing with Nick, tending to Janet whenever she had migraines, and talking to Jamie when no one else would understand him.
But there was one good thing about 2011, and it was a world-historical event. I refer, of course, to
our family’s decision to topple Qaddafi and plunder Libya a milestone we had been anticipating for approximately twenty years:
And they pronounced his name correctly!
At least since 1994 I have promised Jamie I would cry at this event. At least since 2003 he has responded to this promise with great exasperation and annoyance (“Michael! You will not cry”). And in the end, he was right—I did not cry, largely because it was all I could do to operate the zoom at maximum zoom-power and keep my focus on the right kid.
The year is almost behind us. Jamie has completed his first semester at LifeLink PSU, in which he took courses in meteorology, dinosaurs, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He also declared himself the Assistant Director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, on the grounds that he does in fact assist me. Everyone in the immediate household is well, and my father is improving. As of six weeks ago we have a new dog, a rescued six-year-old Jack Russell/beagle mix. So, dear readers, here’s hoping your 2012 is much better than your 2011, wherever and whoever you may be.