Wichita Falls in the Garden State


If you ask, again, at the dinner table, why I don’t eat white flour, be prepared for a somewhat distasteful description of gastrointestinal malfunction. You have been warned.

Mom is 84. Dad is 85. He has been in congenital heart failure for 12 years.

Driving down to SMITHVILLE, to the housing development that lured my parents from Long Island to the promise of youthful interaction with Harrahs casino and a home that they could simply roll in and out of as the time comes, proves itself to always be a chore.

It’s a damn chore.

Although there’s one stretch of the road that is poetic salvation. Is, or rather was, my salvation. It is a short but resonant stretch of the Garden State Parkway.

As begin to hug the shoreline, Pat Metheny’s “So Fall Wichita, As Falls Wichita Falls” begins its slow, steady escalation in my head. As the piece nears its climax, I climb a slight rise in the highway and the glory of the shoreline reveals itself.

A joyous event inserted into each and every chore ladened visit to Smithville. NJ.

But the highway workers, the state of New Jersey, killed that beautiful experience. Took every piece of joy away from me as I travel the 2 & a 1/2 hour drive from my home in northern New Jersey to the casino wasteland suburban embarrassment of south Jersey. A cement barrier is now is my visual accompaniment to the gorgeous aria in my head. A cement barrier to protect all of those late night gamblers from the glare of oncoming headlights on their way back from Atlantic City. My joy, erased, for the love of the ersatz of the casino.

I took my father to the neurologist this morning. Accompanied by my mother, it was an joyless experience. One week before my 56th birthday, my mother thinks she needs to lure me to her home with the promise of some money. She insists upon the money because then I suppose I am only a hired hand. She is not indebted to me for anything, I don’t receive the purity of thanks for my visit and I can continue to be tainted as the money grubbing daughter that I have been made out to be. They insist upon shoving the money into my pocket, and if I don’t take it, there is a huge fight. How can anyone win this?

Back to the neurologist.

My parents oldest son creates scenarios for doctors visits. Pretending that there is some cure for this dementia that has taken over my fathers mind. Pretending that with enough searching, we might find a cure, or a plll or something. So I am assigned the task of accompaniment. Wishing that I could play as falls Wichita Falls inside my fathers head for him.

Since I could no longer see this from the Garden State, I exited the highway and sat at the end of this walkway with the gulls and wrote this blog post.
Since I could no longer see this from the Garden State, I exited the highway and sat at the end of this walkway with the gulls and wrote this blog post.

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