*pop, in the last decade of his life

April 7, 2010 Sunny & Fair

Sunny and fair, yet windy as all get out, as I found out on my bike ride into town (approximately 2.5 miles, felt like 5 with the wind in my face) to see my dad (he needed milk – not for himself, but for his dog). He is enjoying sitting in the sun, it lolls him off into sleep, but his noontime dog walker is worried about him getting a sunburn. He and I both found that amusing as among all his other issues a sunburn would be nothing. Yesterday he did something he has not done before, he handed me a letter to read without even attempting it himself. In fact, I was on my way out the door after picking up his mail (also a new development) and he halted me with a “Hey! You there, read this” or it’s near equivalent. He struggles so with small print that seeing him last week with his face pressed into a magnifying glass, hands trembling, made me burst into tears. 
I am spending too much time with him, and not enough. I am hovering, micro-waving his lunch, delivered by a senior meals program, and cleaning his counters needlessly. I am afraid to leave him alone, but I must. I look forward to work, but when I am at work, I am preoccupied and exhausted, drained. And, he does not need me hovering although he hasn’t complained, yet! Is he weakening every day or is that just my melodramatic fear? Do I have six more months with him or six years or, dreadful to even think it, six weeks? On such a beautiful day death can’t be an option for this still funny as hell, sharp as a tack guy. Odd to think it was easier with my mother due to her dementia, because at the time, the last year she was at home and the first year she was in the nursing home, nothing was easy. And yet, it was easier because I still feel so much his child, wanting always to defer to his judgment, tip-toeing around the hard questions and decisions that must now be asked, looked at, discussed. I did make my brother come to the house this past weekend for a minor discussion of the hard stuff. It was pretty low key, yet useful. 
Oh dear, I am realizing too that this hits me where I live as well because when one’s parents are entirely gone, one’s own mortality is more real – closer, up front and center – ugly thing that it is. Ugly? Why? Who knows, and I am not in a mood to work it out. My dad and I agree that heaven and hell are here, right now, on this earth, not in some murky fantastical afterlife. Let him pass from it and from me with grace and dignity – but not yet, not yet.

April 10, 2010 Overwhelm

Yesterday I had a nice meltdown – not too long but long enough for me to cry buckets of tears and feel as though my innards were melting away. This was brought on by exhaustion and the pettiness (to my mind) of others. I knew I loved my long slow morning ritual – a pot of tea and bowl of banana and steel cut oats, journaling and a walk or run up gorgeous Dry Brook Rd. but now I know I not only love it, I need it, and, for the moment, it is gone, baby, gone. I am now getting up to walk and feed my dogs, ordering my dad’s breakfast, then driving into town to get it, and then I walk his dog. Then I go home, shower, make my lunch or plan dinner for us both, and get to work or to the school to do whatever I need for Carousel. My day (and stress level) was complicated yesterday by a call from the Principal of the school regarding the show: point one, kid A has an academic honors banquet an hour away two nights before showtime, and some possible inappropriate language that Kid B has to say in the show. Kid A, with his parent’s consent – he is playing the male lead in the show – has chosen not to attend the banquet. Teaching kids to make choices and deal with the consequences is part of what we’re supposed to be doing, right? His choice to skip the banquet for the show is a good choice as far as I am concerned (selfishly, I know) and the one I hoped he would make, but it was up to him and I told him so. The principal doesn’t understand why I can’t move the dress rehearsal (45 people involved) to another night or time. It’s not that I can’t (although it would be hugely inconvenient), practically impossible, but I won’t, not for any single kid no matter how large a role, or for any reason. And knowing he had his parents support for the choice he made, why would I? 
The other issue is that Kid B, a regular F-bomb dropper whose parents are divorced and whose dad (a man who left a wife and family in Ohio and then left kid Bs mom and his three siblings to marry a co-worker he’d been schtupping) has gone fundamentalist, Christian Fundamentalist (of course!), and now, Mr. F-bomb dropper does not want to use the word “slut” in describing another character. Okay I sympathize, let’s change it; I wish he had spoken to me about it first rather than having his (asshole) dad call the principal but there y’go. The fundamentalists run a school in Margaretville, a school that I suspect Kid B would be attending if he didn’t love sports so much, given he has played baseball, soccer and basketball in this his senior year. Since they can’t get him into their school, they will try to do whatever they can to influence him, and his (asshole) father in whatever way they can, including his experience in this sweet, wonderful show, my favorite of the Rogers and Hammerstein canon. The principal asked me to meet with her and the superintendent of the school to review the entire script (written in 1945), which I invitation I declined, saying instead that I would make a copy of the script for them both to review on their own time. I think they are making a mistake to, as I see it, give in to the pressure of this (asshole) person, his (asshole) church, and his fear-mongering ways which are being prompted by a very ambitious (asshole) pastor who is, in fact. doing everything he can to undermine our tiny rural public school. But that’s just my opinion (the fucking assholes). 
The good news is my dad is feeling better after doing nothing but resting for four days. Leaving his house Monday to see his GP exhausted him. In other good news, yay, one of my students will bring him his breakfast and walk his dog this Sunday so I can get some rest and enjoy a long slow morning. Simple pleasures are the best, and thank goodness for adolescents in need of pocket money!!