It has been a week of beautiful sunrises at my parent’s home in the Bristol Hills of NY.
It has also been a week of daily commuting back into the city of Rochester where my father has been hospitalized for a serious infection. This came on the heels of a broken leg, surgery and three weeks of rehab. It is a sneaky infection that took hold of his body on Easter Sunday, and has required many days of critical care to stabilize.
It’s been a week now of driving back and forth through countryside and streets that are as familiar to me as the sun rising each morning.
There are many routes between my parents home and the hospital located in the city. After experimenting a little, I finally defaulted to the zig zag of country roads I learned in the early years of making this drive, taking me through the town of Victor and eventually to one of the many expressways that famously ring the city of Rochester. All of the exits I pass on 490 trigger memories, lead to places on this east side of town I grew up on. I exit in the town of Brighton, come to the light at East Avenue. If I turn right, I would eventually come to the gorgeous city house my parents lived in during my young adult years. It I turn left, I quickly come to road that leads to Oak Hill Country club, a place that sits prominently in many of my growing up memories of summer swimming, family Friday night dinners out, Fourth of July fireworks, and all manner of events within the stately ivy covered castle like building, nestled inside the most beautiful landscape of green and trees for playing golf, a place my father loves. And if I go straight through the light I enter onto the beginning of Elmwood Avenue.
Elmwood Avenue is the east west thoroughfare through this town that ends at the north flowing Genesee River. The ritual of following this path has been evoking cell memory all week. Just before the intersection at Clover Street I pass the big white house where I spent so much time, where our friends the Ryans moved to in high school after all the years of us kids growing up together as across the street neighbors. If I turn left here, I would soon come upon Shoreham Drive and my childhood home. At this intersection here the modern architect designed purple house still occupies one of the corners, just the way it did so many years ago when my grandmother, a prominent real estate broker in town, pointed it out to me saying, “You could be an architect!” I come to the intersection of yet another expressway, the exact one I practiced entering and exiting as a young driver learning how to negotiate speed. I soon arrive at the famous Twelve Corners, three major roads converging to create twelve corners for shops, offices, schools, and municipal buildings. Here sits the middle school both me, and my mother before me, attended. I can look right up Monroe Avenue and almost see the red house my grandmother made her office so many years ago. At the intersection of Winton Road I look left and see my high school sitting exactly as it has for generations. I continue to pass easily through the well synched green lights, one of the things I have come to experience and appreciate on these daily journeys along Elmwood Avenue. I wonder, is it always like this, is this Avenue aiding in the smooth transition to where my father lies healing from his latest challenge?
The wing of the hospital he is in is brand new, palatial and accommodating for us family members who choose to stay.
My brother and I tagged team on overnights until the infection was under control, until we could see the feisty glimmer in our father’s eye once again. In the course of our week here it has been spring, and then winter again. I woke in the wee hours a few mornings ago to snow blurred lights of the city beyond.
I turned to take in the temporarily still scene of a hospital room at rest, and bless the peaceful figure of my father in deep healing sleep.
Soon my brother would arrive and I would begin the reverse travel down the road that continues to bring me back home.
The hospital sits adjacent to Mt. Hope Avenue on Elmwood Avenue. Everything about this intersection is familiar, even with new UR college town buildings that contain the Barnes and Noble and Starbucks of today. It is here that my father had his first office as a young dentist establishing his practice, eventually finding a permanent home for his own office just down the road a bit, where as a high schooler, I would work for him during the summers. Then comes the intersection at South Avenue. This road leads to the north side of beautiful Highland Park just around the corner, famous for its lilacs each spring, representative of all lilacs that grace this city, evoking the scent of the lilacs ringing the small back yard of our home. The Al Sigal Center sits prominently at this intersection. Even as a kid this place was known for its care and support of persons with developmental disabilities, a place my son Ben might know well if we lived here. A little further, I pass the private catholic high school, evoking that deep feeling of crush on many boys that always seemed just beyond my reach. I pass the public library. I am my father’s daughter in so many ways, but this was a place I learned to love from my mother, a place I can still smell for the hours spent there as a young girl joyfully making piles of books to take home and read. Then I am at Twelve Corners again. I feel the switch to this cell memory go off. My heart and mind are now moving forward to home where my mother, for her own medical reasons not able to immerse in hospital environment, waits for the day’s news.
The ride down Elmwood Avenue this last night was as the sun was going down, a red ball glowing in the rear view mirror as I headed east. By the time I arrived on the country roads that would take me to my parents home, the sun was sitting on the now snow blanketed fields, casting ethereal shadows of pink light on the snow.
I turn 180 degrees to find the sun now slipping behind the ridge there.
A memorable display of light after a week of dark filled moments.
Dad will be discharged today. The gap between the father that lives in my cell memory and the father fighting for his health has closed.