Tuesday, Dara peeled vegetables in the kitchen and said, “I was singing and my friends said, ‘Uh, what?’”
I’ve puzzled for days on this very topic. As time passes and Dad’s life ebbs, he sleeps more and requires greater patience and care. This means I set up laundry and clean up messes while Daria puts Dad’s papers in order and Todd cleans something else to within an inch of its figurative life. Further, each of us has specialty chores. I have been appointed Chief Cat Comforter, but sometimes I change hats and step out to exercise my authorita as Cat Wrangler. Yes, I’m the new sheriff in Cat Town, here to settle disputes and upbraid the disgruntled, bringing peace and harmony to a nervous populous. It’s a living.
When Darla makes a request of any kind, Daria and I snap to and make it happen. Yesterday, Daria comparison shopped for funeral arrangements because Darla told us Daddy says undertakers are thieves. Well, okay then. Daria spent an hour on the phone asking, “Who do you think you’re messing with?” before settling on services that messed with her least. We are working like dogs to keep this household running, and we burst into tears a lot while we wait for what little time we get to spend with Daddy while he’s awake. It’s an incredibly stressful situation. About two weeks ago, we also started bursting into song.
Picture this. You’re standing in a kitchen with three of your blood relatives. You’re preparing dinner, say. Someone is slicing garlic. Someone is reducing heavy cream. Someone is grating parmesan cheese. Someone is stirring the linguine. Suddenly: cheese on the floor inspires what sound like off-key auditions for the Vienna Boys Choir.
Tata: Oooh, I will be telling!
Daria: Shut up!
Todd: You are the one who will be shutting up!
Dara: You are the one who will be getting paper towels!
Nothing is too big or small to warble about – and I mean nothing.
Tata: We’re in a restaurant. We’d better stop singing.
Daria: This place has good bread.
Todd: Get your plastic Louis V bag off the table.
Dara: Bite me!
Tata: I feel a banana bread coming on.
Daria: Those bananas look verklempt!
Todd: Does your recipe use walnuts?
Dara: When can I have some of the bread you haven’t baked yet?
We chant un-Gregorian in the car, at the grocery store, over the phone, while we’re cleaning, all the time, and it doesn’t matter who overhears us. What do I care who hears us? But Dara’s another story. It was a mighty good thing that when she warbled away from the flock it was at her friends and not at the Vice Principal, because otherwise she might be taking the bus to a special school right now – or a job in summer stock. Two nights ago, Darla ran past us all in the kitchen and said, “That singing thing? It’s not annoying yet but we’re this close.”
In bad four-part harmony, we sang without thinking, “Sorry!”