One of three M.A.C. Farrant stories.
Mother died of pneumonia one week after her spare oxygen tank was taken away during our flight to Toronto. An attendant said it didn’t have a regulator. Mother was sixty-seven years old, had emphysema and cardiopulmonary disease. She’d been on oxygen for ten years.
Our boy Alvin, who is huge, got nasty. There’s a hole in Alvin’s nature big enough for a truck to pass through. He got convulsed by a violent aversion to the flight attendant. You don’t just take away a person’s spare oxygen tank! They put us off the flight in Calgary.
So we were all worked up about that. It took everything out of us, and we were just about dying from hunting down hope, and trust, and gleaming promise, not to mention another oxygen tank. So there was failure.
Then Charlie took off after the Last Amphibian, which is what he calls Alvin on account of his turning from a sweet baby into a twelve-year-old canister of woe. Alvin was heading for god knows where. My stepfather Jimmy went with them.
I could not go on. I could not continue these explorations. A local man gave Mother and me cherries and a few roasted almonds while we waited for them to return, which they eventually did, Alvin with two double cheeseburgers, his usual reward for compliance.
I could not know then that I would contribute to Mother’s death. I should have known about the regulator rule but I didn’t. Mother’s tank ran out and we had no spare. I was too worried about Alvin to worry about Mother. She seemed happy enough sucking on cherry pits.
It was next day in Emergency when I got another tank. By then Mother had pneumonia.