*this archive journal of my dad’s last weeks and months is coming to a close, is getting down to days left in his life and the most intense period of caregiving, caregiving that began a decade prior. I wish every caregiver or parent of young children in this country and world were getting the support they needed, but we in the US with our “bootstraps” libertarian streak cannot seem to get it together to support caregivers, and families, or those who have a hard time getting out of poverty. I’m glad we’ve got a (knock wood) deal on raising the debt ceiling, but the GQPs demands re: work requirements for SNAP only serves to get people out of applying for assistance, and where I live – rural America – 70% of those using SNAP (food stamps) are the disabled or children, with another 15% the elderly poor, and the rest – the group they’re going after – are people who work but make less than could possibly cover the cost of housing, food and transportation in a county the size of Rhode Island, where we have almost no public transportation, and that for senior citizens only…don’t get me started. 

April 25, 2010 Kripalu and more…

Back from 2 days at Kripalu which is a yoga retreat and training center in Stockbridge, Mass. The area, which I cannot believe I have never visited as the drive was so easy and so gorgeous, is absolutely stunning. New England charm meets the Berkshires in the spring and I must go back for more. I loved that I could take a road out of my Catskill Mountains (Route 23) all the way across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge through Columbia County, New York into the Berkshires and Mass., ending only in Great Barrington. From there another country road (how I love them) a very short way to Stockbridge, which is a long-time center for the arts (Tanglewood and Shakespeare & Co. among others) as well as new age getaways (Kripalu, Omega and, less new age but all spa, Canyon Ranch). 
Kripalu was once a Jesuit Monastery and the views from the rooms are spectacular, looking out over the mountains and a lake whose name I never found out, bad tourist that I am, although I was there to retreat, not tour. I met my best friend from college there and gabbed like mad as planned despite my little illness, which is almost cured. What is it about talking to an old friend – and laughing uproariously (she is hilairee– us!!) that is so deeply satisfying and restorative? Who cares; I am just very thankful. 
Today I had a two-hour massage (life is tough) with a “master” masseur – Ericka. I am a big fan of massage, and this was a good one, and just what I needed. I returned refreshed and ready for whatever is coming. My dad is struggling, and his legs continue to swell. I told him tonight I am relying on him to tell me when he can no longer be alone at night in the house. I told him that I want to be with him when he dies. He said that’s no fun, watching someone die. I said I thought it would be an honor and I just want to be of service to him (and yes, I was crying, in case you were wondering). We’ll see. I love this man, my dad. We’ll see. 
And before I forget only about ten minutes after I left Kripalu as I was doing my usual “which house would I love to live in/tour the inside of/renovate” game, I looked to my right at a farm and there, walking very calmly up the driveway with a grouping of cows watching, was a big old black bear. In daylight, around 1:30p.m. and I think I only saw it because the cows were oddly not focussed on the grass; what the hell are they looking at – what the hell is – holy cow, a bear!! – all in five seconds. Very cool.

April 27, 2010

I refer to an actual, non-movie, date night. I have not seen the Tina Fey (genius) and Steve Carrell (luckiest man in Hollywood, imo) version and probably won’t unless I get a strong recommendation from a friend I trust once it’s available on Netflix, that is…back to the real story here: date night at my house is Mondays and so on Tuesdays you will, generally, find me rested and relaxed. Ah, the multiple benefits and pleasures of spending time with a main squeeze, even one who is far, far from ideal. Last night, although we spoke at length about my dad and his situation, was the first in many nights during which I have not spent at least ten minutes crying. This is good as my body – my tear ducts – need a rest. 
I remember being in the hospital as a kid and crying because I felt terrible physically, on top of which I was lonely, sad and a little lost. I was perhaps 6 or 7. Crying, the nurse said, would only keep my temperature up, which would extend my stay. Now you don’t want that, do you? We watch as the camera slowly turns back to the little girl, me, who is still crying, only more quietly. Idiot (not me, the nurse, who undoubtedly meant well, although I wonder if that was the day I decided one thing I was never going to be was a nurse…). My point is that crying, as I have been of late – deep and long, is exhausting and my temperature does go up. I needed a break, a break that I did not succeed in getting this past weekend although yes, the Berks and my BFF were a tonic to the soul. And I am almost well, almost myself, almost cough and stuffy nose free. Oh joy, oh rapture! Soon, too, the temps will get and stay over 45 and I will be able to put away all this pesky outerwear. 
Date night last eve included some very yummy gin, Wet?, distilled by who knows who, but it has a lovely tint to its flavoring. My FWB and I went over his presentation for this weekend which, 15 minutes long, no more, no less, will get him the votes needed to win Marketer of the Year. Am I feigning my enthusiasm? Perhaps. Definitely. Still, life is good. Every time I felt as though we were getting bogged down in the sadness of my dad’s failing health last night, I said tell me about the future, tell me about your kids (he has seven, that’s right, seven). Now that’s a lot of future, dontcha think? Ya, ya. Holy shit, it’s snowing out.