The way I describe my mother lately is, “She has grit.” A month in the hospital, stoically accepting surgery that would leave me howling in a corner. Followed by two weeks in rehab. It was initially agony to shift her head on the pillow, but shift it she did. Now she’s walking. She’s 86.
“We’ve got to get you out of this hellhole,” were my first words to her there. I saw my job as half goad, half cheerleader, providing encouragement and chocolate.
My wife and I were on my way to visit her Monday about 11 a.m. when we stopped by Jewel for more Lindt bars. My sister-in-law called. A mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
I thought of going straight there. Or back home. But the paper already had people on the scene, and my mother was expecting us. So we continued numbly to Arlington Heights. Their parade must have just let out. Arlington Heights Road crawled. A stray float decorated in red, white and blue. A dad pulling a red wagon containing a little girl wearing star deely bobbers. Hallmarks of American innocence, though how we could still be innocent at this point is beyond me. I’m as guilty as anybody.
The parade in my leafy suburban paradise of Northbrook, near Highland Park, was scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
“We have to go to the parade,” I told my wife. I thought of how, when a terrorist bomb goes off at an Israeli cafe, they mop away the blood, put back the scattered chairs and tables, and order coffee.
My wife disagreed. People in the neighboring town had just been killed. We can’t have a parade. She was right, of course. The shooter was still at large anyway, mooting the question. Northbrook and at least half a dozen nearby towns canceled their parades.
“No reason to tell my mom about the shooting,” I said, as we arrived.
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