Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Dad has lost a lot of weight in the last six weeks, and is down to under 130 lbs. He does not feed himself--though on a good day he can still pick up his coffee cup-- and is on pureed food. When he came back to more or less normal consciousness, it almost seemed that he had had some out of body or near death experience--he was quite agitated and kept saying that couldn't "get in" and "I had to come back." He was also very sad, and kept looking at Marty and me and wanting to say something that he couldn't quite articulate. Years ago, a few months before my grandfather passed away, he talked in a similar way--that he could "not turn the corner" and needed help. I don't know how long my dad has to live, but on some level I think he is making his peace with it.
It is often said that hearing is the last sense to go, and that it is important to keep talking even to those who are in a coma or otherwise unable to respond. Although my dad's mental faculty is probably down to 5 or 10%, he still reacts to things from long ago-- typical of the pattern of dementia where people lose near term but retain long term memory. Two things that still get through the immense fog in his brain are music and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The music I play for him on my iPod includes selections from albums he used on a radio program the family store sponsored for several years for a local radio station---such as 101 Strings "The Soul of Spain." His hearing seems pretty unimpaired, as I don't have to turn it up even close to full volume for him to tap his feet to the castanets. The other night while he was still in bed I read him several of Emily's poems, and although he was unable to speak much, his facial expression and movements told me that the words were getting through--he even laughed at "I'm Nobody--Who are You?"
So transitions for me turn out to be more than leaving India, and leaving my job...these days are bittersweet, for although I long to keep my dad in this world, I also can't help but wish him free of all the limitations imposed by his dementia and age. He is in no apparent pain (not that he would tell us if he were--he has always been overly stoic that way) and that is a blessing...so I the best I can hope is that the tide will continue to go out gently.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
It feels weird, but one thing I have to say is that the time does seem to pass quickly. I have no trouble finding things to do---I shoveled the walk and the driveway this morning after a snowfall, and am really enjoying getting back to my yoga class. We voted in the Michigan primary, and the only people there at the hour we went were senior citizens. When people call me to do things, I can pretty much say "anytime" instead of having to make it on evenings or weekends. I spent two hours at Sara's apartment today with a helper from the agency that works with her, and I started to get a bit antsy after a while, but then I had to stop and think, "why?" There was really nothing so urgent that I had to do. I am unpacking a lot of boxes from the storage we had. I still haven't found my favorite roasting pan. This keeps me working at the storage.
I still don't have any interest in watching T.V., but Marty does and occasionally I catch part of a program here and there. American Idol is on right now and I have to say--it is incredibly bad; I don't know how Marty stands it. I am grossly offended and upset by the number of drug ads on T.V. and in print publications here--it is no wonder that prescriptions are so ridiculously expensive in the U.S. I guess this was true three years ago before I left but I notice it a lot more now. I have been checking out buying our prescriptions in Canada. I am really, really enjoying reading The New York Times every morning. I am enjoying NOT having a 3 hour commute every day.
We went shopping over the weekend and I have become as big a fan of Costco as Marty. It is incredibly a lot cheaper to buy things there, even if the volume is sometimes more than you think you need. We bought some cereal, for example. A large box of two 28 oz bags of our favorite brand cost a little more than $8. We had a 16 oz box at home that we had paid $4.79 for. I also like Costco's policies. They are a lot more socially responsible than Wal-Mart. They seem to have a good reputation with both employees and suppliers.
I am tired of traveling. Though I will be heading up to Canada for Vipassana next week, that's a short journey and not too onerous. After a while, I had had too much of Disney and the vacation experience, and I think it was just the build up from all the travel I did while in India. It is nice to settle in and just be. I am sure I will get wanderlust after a while, but right now I am just glad to be here and in our place in Keene. We are having friends over for dinners and I enjoy the time to prepare and just have conversation.
I see my dad pretty much every day. Today I took him some favorite songs on my iPod. He enjoyed that. It is tough to see him though. I find that I can spend 10 or 15 minutes and then I want to leave. He is not able to have a conversation. The last few TIAs (mini-strokes) have affected his speech and he cannot articulate even if he wants to say something. But still, I am glad that I am only 5 minutes away from him instead of halfway around the world.
I have discovered "LinkedIn" a business networking site. I figure it will be useful when I start getting back into the job market. I will think about that next month.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
We stayed just south of Kitty Hawk on the Cape Hatteras highway in a lovely old place that had been moved from the shoreline, where it was about to fall into the sea. The coast here is lined with vacation homes making ocean access difficult, but we found a hotel that had closed for the season and were able to park in their lot and take some shots of the Atlantic Ocean at sunset. This one below is from Marty's camera:
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
This is the scene outside our bedroom window in New Hampshire. It snowed heavily on December 31 and again yesterday, but within a few hours the roads were dry and our driveway plowed. We didn't even realize it was snowing until we started hearing a strange noise overhead in the middle of the night--it was the snow falling off the steeply slanted roof to the ground below.
I haven't seen snow drifts like this since I was a kid, and I got a chance to shovel the walk for the first time in a number of years--only to find out that the city does it, because we are on a street near a school. Oh well, I needed the exercise, anyway.
Now it is January 2 and soon we will be on our way to Florida, stopping in North Carolina on the way. It's fun to reconnect with the U.S., a country I haven't really spent much time in for nearly three years.