We returned to Vail. Bruce was getting out of bed more often and socializing with his housemates. He called me between three and four times a week. We FaceTimed when we could. Sometimes he would call at 5:00 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. Mountain Time and say, “Lynne, it’s your brother, Bruce.” He would state very seriously, “I would like to listen to James Taylor’s (blah, blah, blah…).” Of course, I couldn’t always understand him the first go-around, having just raced up the stairs half asleep, jolted out of bed by the ringing phone. “Brucie, slow down and tell me again.” The infamous deep sigh and clearing of the throat followed by,
“Listen to me.”
That expression will forevermore make me smile, “I would like to listen to James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James.’” By this time, I would understand his request of me. Inevitably, I would ask to speak with whomever was on duty, pleased when Ms. Lee would come to the phone.
“You do realize it is only five in the morning here, right?” I reminded her.
“Yes,” she acknowledged, “But I can’t say no to him and I love talking to you.”
How could I possibly remain annoyed, talking to two people I loved before the sun had yet to rise? It was always a nice way to start the day, especially as Brucie sounded so “healthy.”
His dialysis schedule changed once more, adding back in the third day due to high fluid retention. The number of hours for each session were limited to three instead of four due to low blood pressure and low blood count. Unfortunately, Bruce would need another transfusion, but understanding the fact that he would only stay in the hospital one night and that someone would be with him, he was amiable.
By October, the cancer was really taking its toll. He was having trouble keeping food down and he was having bathroom accidents. Another visit was planned in spite of COVID and my husband, who was dealing with AFib with serious heart palpitations and was scheduled for an ablation, a heart procedure to fix his wiring. This visit, we stayed at an Airbnb within walking distance of the hospital. Of course, my brother, true to form, overhearing my conversation with Jerica about her father, beckoned Big Bruce over to his bed. “What does that mean, your heart? How are you feeling? Are you good? How about you lay here and take a nap?” No matter how lousy he felt, he wasn’t happy that someone he cared for could be sick. He remembered our mother had died from having a sick heart. I shake my head and marvel, not the first time, at his capacity to love, his capacity to just go on because there was no other choice.
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