Freudian Slips: A Parting Gift

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

November 03, 2009

A Parting Gift

Anthony Gregory "T" Tornatore
Prior to my brother Anthony’s removal from life support to allow him to die naturally, the immediate family gathered at the hospital to pay our final respects. We positioned ourselves in the waiting room and drug our feet to his hospital bed to say our individualized fateful final goodbyes.
The sympathetic doctor in charge entered the waiting room. Using a soft low-key voice, she addressed a huddled family, whose collective emotions seemed already in mourning. "Is everyone here?" Yes, we answered like drones. "Is there anybody else coming to the hospital?" No, we fretted. "Has everyone been afforded sufficient time to say goodbye?" Yes, we muttered with heavy hearts. "Okay, I need a verbal consent from his daughter, to remove the life support." Between his daughter and my mother looking at one another, neither materialized an audible answer but both approximated reluctant head nods. The doctor accepted their mutual decision to proceed then informed the family the inevitability of what was expected to happen next. The doctor promised notification of the exact time of his passing.
Like victims of stolen love, our solemn sobbing and prayer monopolized the waiting room. The first minute of vigil felt like a wrecking ball hitting my heart. Everyone seemed to breathe heavier as if we were projecting our oxygen as a scarce commodity for my brother’s time off the ventilator. When the next few minutes produced no news, a vacuous blanket of silence filled the air. Concluding that my brother must be struggling to breath on his own, I prayed for mercy. I did not want his final moments spent in pain. After about twenty minutes, various family members began to mingle outside the waiting room doing the things people do when they do not know what to do….incoherent muttering, needless bathroom stops, mindless cell phone texts and unproductive pacing in looping circles.
As I personally prayed to a God largely unfamiliar to me, I enlivened my last moments with my brother there by his deathbed….stroking through the warm-blooded flesh of his arm, watching the white linen on his hospital bed my tears over his hospital bed absorb my transparent moisture. I recalled kissing him goodbye. I saw the final reflection of both of us in the hospital glass while I turned away for the final time. I canonized the last time I saw my brother alive.
All of a sudden, my brother’s ex-wife runs into the waiting room and shouts, "There is a woman in bed with T and nobody knows who it is. Help!" I knew then that my loving memorial of my brother’s last moments was about to be disturbed. Finding my brother unhooked to a vent and struggling to breath seemed a footnote subtlety to the shock of seeing a hysterical woman straddling him up on his bed. I witnessed her slapping his face side to side like a Three Stooges act performed with gallows humor. She was trying to resurrect a dying man with the insensibility of denial. The woman screamed now or never instructions. "Don't listen to the doctors! You can do this. Come on. Wake-up!”
After pulling her down from his bed and escorting her out of the area, we all began to breathe a sigh of relief. I was not the only one who found ironic meaning in what had just happened. My dying brother would have found this moment not only comical but a suitable parting gift. Although we had compassionately tried to define our final moments with him, it was typical of his personality to say goodbye to us…with the last laugh.



Blogger Foxxy One said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Joe.

10:44 AM  
Blogger mommanator said...

OMG who was she?

9:34 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

foxxy one,
thank you.

She was the sister of a former girlfriend of his whose appearance had changed dramatically since anyone had seen her last.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous SSHaggis said...

Joe, I am so sorry about the loss of your brother. I too did the vigil for my dad, and it was all that you describe. Minus the lady. As you said, your brother would be laughing. All best.
SS Haggis.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

life's valleys...looking ahead to 2010.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! One day after his birthday? I wish I saw the obit in the newspaper - I would've stopped at the funeral home.

"T" was always really funny. I'll always think of him as your little brother, perpetually 13 or 14 years old, which is around the time you and I dated.

I'm REALLY sorry for T's loss. - Steph

8:30 PM  

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