When the sun rose the next morning I woke Cid for his nebulizer treatment. With the rosy hues of the rising sun against the morning mist shining on his face, it struck me how angelic he looked. I tried to turn my mind from that thought as much as I could, but it kept wandering back to it again and again. I smiled at him wearily and he smiled back as best as he could with the mask up against his mouth and nose.
As soon as Cid appeared out of the bedroom, his mother started up a constant stream of shrill chatter in Italian. Just before he entered the bathroom, he turned his head and looked at me – and rolled his eyes. I could barely hear him clanking around the oxygen tank in there as his mother stood right outside the door and didn’t let up. I could tell by the sound of the spoken words that it wasn’t that pleasant either. I closed the bedroom door and lay out on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
She kept up that chatter throughout breakfast and on into the morning. At one point Cid motioned me into the bedroom and we sat in there on the bed as I gave him another treatment. Afterwards he whispered to me that his mother was angry about all the noise that went on during the night. I couldn’t understand what she was referring to until I realized that I had to use the bathroom throughout the night to wash the mask and rinse out other pieces of equipment. I was just doing the nursing duties that were required – but it was waking her up. I thought that she should try being in my shoes. I hadn’t had more than a few minutes sleep here and there for at least three days and I could feel my chest hurting with the fatigue. Cid wrapped his arms around me and asked me to try to ignore her.
We had talked over the years many times about his parents. His father had died of a heart attack just before I met Cid and he had felt responsible for his mother’s happiness since then. What had been strange about it all was that his father had received a phone call in the early hours of the morning, and a voice had told him the person was calling from the airport and he was here to kill him. No one ever found out who made the call, but they think his father had the heart attack because of the stress of it all. He had been a bricklayer all his life and had brought his small family from Trieste, Italy to settle in the tiny town of Taber, Alberta. They had been a self-contained unit, the three of them – staying to themselves even when they moved to the large city of Lethbridge.
When Cid was applying for postsecondary education, he applied to a journalism school and law school. He didn’t care which one he got in to, he just made sure that both of them were far enough away from his parents that it wouldn’t be easy for them to make a daily visit. He had his fingers crossed for journalism school, but it was the law school he heard from first. He packed his bags and fled.
From what he told me, those years away from his parents had been the best of his life. When he graduated, he also decided to work a long distance from them as well and chose Edmonton – a seven-hour drive. Of course he had always been a good son, and they never knew that all he wanted to do was have his own life without them hanging over his head and telling him what to do every second of the day. And his father’s death had changed that. Cid went back to the daily phone calls and long-weekend visits. He spent every visit to his mother fixing the problems in the house or looking after hers. He did it all with that wonderful smile on his face and she never knew.
When he rolled his eyes at me before shutting the bathroom door – I thought of all of this.