Diary, chronicle by Joseph Amendolare at Spillwords.com
Rhema Kallianpur



written by: Joseph Amendolare


Aug 16 2022
Driven from my home, I depart today on Amtrak for NY.
With a suitcase of underwear, socks, t-shirts and the clothes on my back.
My younger brother, and my father, will both be released from the hospital and rehab center later this week.
I guess, it will be my job to care for them.

Aug 23 2022
Nurse for my brother stopped in today. He looks terrible. I would say he weighs 90 pounds. Will not eat, keeps asking for Coca-cola and cigarettes.
From the look on her face, I don’t see much hope.

Aug 31 2022
My brother disappeared from the house last night and I went out to look and couldn’t find him.
The emergency room at the hospital called to let me know he fell somewhere and that they are keeping him for a few days.

Sept 8 2022
Three weeks after arriving, I was called and informed today that my brother passed away after being discharged to a nursing home. He was 60. I wept.

Sept 26 2022
Now, my father fell in the kitchen.
What do you want me to do, I asked him. Do you want an ambulance.
He said yes so I called 911 and they came and took him away.
‘I love you,’ were the last words he said to me.

Oct 3 2022
A doctor called to discuss his condition and the news was not good. He has cancer, he’s too old for chemo and he’s too old to operate on.
The doctor was nice, spoke in an Indian accent, and talked to me for quite a bit.
How much time does he have, I asked.
It’s impossible to predict, he said, but I would say no more than two months.

Oct 26 2022
Miserable weeks of infighting with hospice representative and trying to find a place that might take him. He is a veteran with 26 years of Reservist time. The VA is not helping.
The rep at the hospital keeps insisting that I place him in hospice care. Because the hospital wants to discharge him.
Yet, hospice care is quoted to me at $14,500 a month. My family cannot afford that much, I told her. She tells me to contact Medicaid. Medicaid in turn wants copies of the Deed to his house, his income statements and copies of all bank accounts.
I don’t trust the system.
I call the hospital back. Look, send over a bed and whatever is needed and I will care for him at home, I told her.
So they did and I have it all set up in the living room.
Such a miserable time of life.

Oct 27 2022
As it turns out, the bed was not needed.
He passed away in the hospital this morning.
It made me so sad to see him in these last days, unable to stand, barely able to walk. I remember him when he was young, and strong.
It’s never easy, to lose a loved one.
Memories come flooding.
In the meantime, separated; and my divorce, which I did not want, runs in the background.
Which is why I am here, in my parent’s retirement house.
I texted my kids to let them know their grandfather passed away.
My wife never said a word.

31 Oct 2022
Burial day and a formal Mass was said.
The Navy sent a cadre of three enlisted and an officer.
They presented me with a flag.
The officer saluted me on the Church steps.

Nov 22 2022
Cold morning two days before Thanksgiving.
Drove to 7-Eleven for coffee and three packs of cigarettes. I know they’re no good for me, but somehow it makes me feel better to go out and buy them.
Stacked them on the dining room table.

Nov 24 2022
Our neighbor across the street knocked on the door early this morning. He had a large pumpkin pie for me. He expressed his condolences.
Such a nice family they are.

Dec 2 2022
The news is so depressing lately. Someone was shoved in front of a subway train, a woman suffered chemical burns to her face after someone threw a substance at her.
The City is housing migrants brought up from down south. Many are being placed in the iconic Roosevelt Hotel, opened in 1928 and named for Theodore Roosevelt.

Dec 19 2022
Sleeping on a gel mattress on the floor over a garage, with a thin blanket; next to a baseboard radiator. It’s better than being out in the wind and rain.
Thanksgiving this year. Alone with no one.
And I dread Christmas.

Jan 30 2023
Settled my father’s bank and created an Estate account for his remaining funds. It took two hours. No real instructions from the bank. Like, what should be done with this money, how long should it stay there.
I will leave it sit.
Eventually I need to figure out what to do with this house.
H&R Block submitted his final tax return for me.

Feb 1 2023
Signed off on the terms of agreement. Regarding the divorce. I don’t know. It seems to give me peace, to get on with it. My lawyer tells me there is nothing to do now, but wait.

Feb 17 2023
Snowed overnight. Forecast was for a dusting or a light accumulation. When I went outside it was closer to 5 inches. I am old now but the sidewalk must be shoveled and the car windows cleaned before it freezes and turns to ice.
I took my time with it. One section at a time.
I was out of breath when I finally had it done.

Feb 26 2023
I am trying to stay busy by cleaning out my father’s bedroom, which was poorly kept for many years. Five boxes of clothes; neatly folded and packed up.
Tons of unused adult diapers still in the packaging.
A sweet Church lady whom I found online, came three times and took it all away.
Then two hours looking thru old photographs that I came across in his room.

Mar 1 2023
Has been five months since I’ve heard from my son. He’s 18 now. Finishes high school in June. We were on good terms when I left. Gave him as much love as humanly possible, in the years we were together.
Maybe, he doesn’t need me anymore.
Maybe my ex poisoned him against me.
Whatever the reason; it hurts.

March 20 2023
Neighbors across the street sold their house. Have been here a long time. Good friends of the family who knew my parents well. There is no one left now from when they bought this house over 20 years ago.
I am sorry to see them go.

March 24, 2023
In exchange for me paying half the Property taxes on our home, she proposed to let me claim the two kids as dependents on my income taxes. I agreed to it, even though it feels like coercion.
Seven months of separation and of not seeing my kids.
Also, I miss my dog.

April 5 2023
The oven is not working and I have been living on sandwiches and microwave foods for the past six months.

April 26 2023
Finally got fed up not hearing from my kids and wrote an email to her lawyer.
His response was “She is doing nothing to influence the children.”
I’m not happy with his answer nor her behavior.

April 28, 2023
She finally wrote a lengthy email explaining that they have been busy, that my daughter is trying to make the lacrosse team and my son is working two part-time jobs and finishing up his last year of high school.
Well, I understand ‘busy’ at that age.
On the other hand it doesn’t take much to text me a happy birthday message or a happy new year or just ask how dear old Dad is doing once in a while.

June 5, 2023
My son graduated high school and I watched it on youtube. I begged and pleaded with them to tell me a date, time and location; they never did.
Cried for the first time in many months.

June 18, 2023
Father’s Day and I hear nothing from them and I am beginning not to give a damn anymore but deep in my heart I surely do.

July 4, 2023
Sitting outside with a cup of coffee watching local fireworks. This old song keeps running in my head and I can’t get rid of it. Alone Again (Naturally). Gilbert O’Sullivan. Came out I was still in high school.
Possibly the saddest song ever written.

July 16 2023
Coming on a year soon that I arrived up here. I have been paying all the bills on this house and worried sometimes that if they raise the taxes too much I won’t be able to afford it here.
The economy and especially inflation seems terrible. People are struggling to pay bills and afford groceries and all I hear is general malaise.

Aug 1 2023
I wonder when the divorce date will be. My lawyer tells me that when it comes we will all be brought on via Zoom and it will be a virtual hearing.

Aug 7 2023
My soon to be ex-wife long ago made her social media accounts private and also unfriended me on Facebook.
Now my kids have done the same.
I never did anything wrong to them.
None of them had a terrible life with me.

Aug 8 2023
Two of my teeth cracked and one was a wisdom tooth and was giving me so much trouble that I visited the emergency room. I had them removed today and now I am just a bloody mess.
Eating soup and instant mashed potatoes and applying ice.
I wonder these days, about how much worse life can get.

Aug 22 2023
Buying groceries today an older black woman approached me in the parking lot.
She asked me for a quarter.
Wait, I said, this is not 1970. What are you going to get with a quarter?
If I can get enough of them, she said, I might be able to buy something.
Ok, I told her, I don’t have any change on me, but there’s some in my car. Follow me and you can have it.
We walked to my car and I guess there was about 2.50. I handed it to her.
Thank you, she said, and she walked away.

Aug 31 2023
Praying for mercy every night for the past, close to 2 years.
Please soften her heart, I say.
I give thanks, repent and pray for others.
My evening song.

Sept 15 2023
The days are getting shorter but the heat of summer has finally rolled out.
In August the City opened “cooling stations,” a place for people to get out of the heat. They mostly close at 5PM.
I worry about the winter this year. We haven’t had snow in this city for years now but it is known to be hit with horrific blizzards.
The heating bill for this house averaged over 350 a month last year.

Oct 6 2023
My lawyer finally notified me that the divorce hearing will take place on 6 Nov.
I asked about my kids, whom I still do not hear from. He said he can file some type of motion after everything is final.
Did not make me happy. He doesn’t seem to understand that there is a human aspect to all of this. Focuses on the legal process only.
I don’t think I got a fair settlement either. Split of assets was about 55-45 in her favor. Also, alimony for life. Unless she remarries, which I kind of doubt she will.
Anyway, nothing to do but wait.

Oct 27, 2023
Already a year since my father passed. I found a baseball pennant from the old Shea Stadium. As soon as I saw it, I remembered it. Was just a little kid, didn’t even know what baseball meant at that time.
He saved it, all these years.
What love is.

Nov 6, 2023
Zoom session scheduled for 3PM and started five minutes late.
First time to see her, in 15 months. She looked very tired.
I gave myself a haircut last night because I’m tired of paying $30 for one. Wore the best shirt I had. No tie.
The judge (a she) made us both state, and then spell, our names. She asked questions mostly for the plaintiff.
And so it went.
I asked the court regarding my children and was immediately cut off. ‘You need to have a conversation with your lawyer,’ was all that was said.
The whole process took about half an hour.
And then it was over, as suddenly as it started.

Nov 23, 2023
Thanksgiving day.
Tried to make fish sticks and Tater Tots in the microwave.
Backup plan was tuna on English muffins.
Plus a pot of coffee, half a box of Devil Dogs and a pack of cigarettes.

Nov 27, 2023
The final order of divorce arrived in the mail today.
No one helps.
I can tell you that much.
Pastors, old friends, what cousins I still have left, neighbors.
They tell you how sorry they are, that you didn’t deserve this, that they hope things will get better in the New Year.
I already know, they won’t get better.
One woman texts me frequently, asking how things are going; (I somehow feel, that she is a type who enjoys hearing bad news about others).

There is no mercy from God, no answered prayers, no karma.
I have read the Book of Job at least 10 times over the years.
I am always drawn back to the very first chapter.
The devil tempts God twice. And God accepts the temptation.
I never knew what to make of that.
I actually feel, like I received karma destined for someone else. A rapist, a serial killer, someone who cut up bodies and buried the pieces.
Wouldn’t wish this on anyone though. The worst criminal on earth would not deserve this level of hell.
More merciful to be taken out and shot.

Christmas lingers ahead, and it will be the same as last year.
My kids won’t say a word, I’ll make a frozen dinner.
I will sit alone at this dining room table, which my mother bought in 1956 when she got married.
Many days spent at this table; a Christmas tree set up for weeks, my grandparents still alive; all my cousins and aunts and uncles over; enjoying what time we had together as a family; progressing thru high school, memories thru all the years.
If I had a hand grenade, I’d simply pull the pin and close my eyes.

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