This next entry in my travel log does sound a bit harsh but was the result of my channeling some of my grief into my writing.
My last night in Chicago. Good riddance.
Let’s just start with me saying why I think Chicago is associated with the blues. It’s a sad city now.
When I was young, I would enjoy visiting Chicago. I would visit Grandma, who would cook up some tasty dishes and desserts. Then it would be off to Oma’s where we would often go to the museums and general attractions. Every day would be fun and I would be very sorry to leave.
For the first time in my life, I’m actually happy to be leaving Chicago. First off, my purpose of coming here was to bury my grandmother through a tear-jerking funeral. That definitely was not enjoyable. Funerals never are. I took time off from work and separated myself from my wife and my cat so I could watch people cry. Yes, my grandmother lived a full life and towards the end began her transition to the next stage of life. That’s commendable and I’m not putting the whole thing down. Still, when my grandmother died, a fun reason to visit Chicago died with her. Never again will I taste her magical dishes nor experience her jot at seeing me come visit. That part is dead now.
Then there’s Oma. She has undergone a very frightening transformation. She was once active, enjoying games of tennis and bike rides. Now she’s barely able to walk without her cane and her memory is terrible. She may have shown up at the funeral, but she didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t recognize Grandma and instead saw a man whom she suspected had been really sick.
My visit to her house today had none of the joy that I got from my previous visits. My dad and I sat in her living room, trying to converse with her. My dad soon got annoyed at having answered her question five times and there was tension in the air. She asked me if I was working, and I politely answered yes, despite my having told her the previous day.
Not even one hour later, I was ready to leave. I was not enjoying this visit at all. There was no joy in conversing with someone with dementia. Again, I’m not putting her down. I love Oma dearly but it’s sad to see her the way she is. My visits to my relatives are supposed to be joyful but instead it’s saddening to watch them decline. They are old and no longer able to do the things they did to make Chicago so much fun.
And now, Oma’s alone in an old house in a bad neighborhood. Knowing she can’t do well by herself, let alone survive, dampens the mood even further.
I really regret not having taken an earlier flight home. I’m more than ready to leave this sorry, sad city.
And I just know it will be even sadder next time I land here.
Nice knowing you, Chicago.
To be continued…