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Friday, July 24, 2009

Weaning Time and Countdown

The countdown for my return home has begun. Next week at this time I will be on the final leg of my journey to Clinton, NY. I look forward to this with both joy and concern. I can't wait to be back in my beloved adopted home. I want to bundle my father up and take him with me.
He is doing so well. So well in fact that I am now allowing him to take care of me. Last night, he prepared dinner. This morning his is making banana waffles! Yummm...
His tendency toward over exertion is becoming apparent as he tries to do too much. That is when, like a mother hen, I shoo him to the safety of his easy chair and television. He knows better than to argue and is fairly well behaved as he grumbles and shuffles off to his forced relaxation.
This visit has also shown me - and here is where my concern comes in - that my siblings are very busy with their lives. Their jobs take them away from home for hours a day, the commute eats into their off time, their relationships pull their attention down another road. This is understandable. This is normal. But...I worry that the dad person will be left alone to sit and fall into the depression that surrounds him as a result.
He has told me that he doesn't cook when it is just him. He doesn't enjoy cooking for just himself. As with most men, he doesn't clean the house well and he doesn't want a housekeeper. He doesn't want to rent a room, or bring in a roomie to help him occupy this huge house either.
These things concern me.
On a high note, as a joke, he started a "Bucket List". He wants to see Niagara Falls. He wants to go to the Aztec and Mayan ruins in Mexico and Central America. His dream of an Alaskan cruise is in the process of being fulfilled. My wonderful sister in law is busily planning a cruise on the Inside Passage of Alaska for next spring. And the dad person is allowing me to book him a flight to New York for as soon as possible after his release from the Doctor's care! These are all great things.
But back to the titled subject...I have begun the weaning process from caring for my father to him caring for himself. I am leaving him at home alone for a few hours today and most of the day tomorrow.
Today, his newly hired grounds keeper will be here working in the back, so he won't be completely alone. He gets to stay and pet his dog, watch television, and try to use his Spanish to talk with Manuel, Lupita and son.
Me? I get to hop in the car with Karin, my sister in law, and head to Petaluma to visit Kniterly! Partake of their sale goods and fondle yarn.
Tomorrow Karin and I again hop in the care, but this time to head further south to San Francisco and a city wide yarn crawl with the lovely and vivacious Jewel! This is the little trip I have been looking forward to for the entire month. I came armed with a merino fleece for Jewel and cash for any yarn purchases I may make. Of course, yarn purchased will be used for Christmas presents. These are not purchases for me. Truly.
So the weaning process has begun and the countdown is looming over our heads. I am both happy and sad. We both need the weaning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Venturing Forth

Because I have intermittent Internet service at best I am saying thanks for all your support here. When I get home I will be able to send each and every one of you a heartfelt thank you in an email. But, thanks for hanging in there with me and for all your well wishes.

Yesterday was the first trip the Pa person took out of the house since surgery.
He decided that he needed a new dishwasher. I must agree; he did. His old one was older than my oldest son and in such bad shape that you wash the dishes and put them in the "dishwasher" to rinse and dry.
With his announcement we jumped into his truck - alright, maybe more of a slow slide - and headed to the local Home Depot. Once there, we searched for the handicapped carts. That took a while as they were hidden in the corner by the contractor entrance. After getting my invalid settled into his vehicle, we set about learning the finer points of navigating one of these conveyances. *First, hit the forward switch. Second, squeeze the accelerator lever and pray there is nobody in front of you. Third, release the accelerator lever. Fourth, apologize for running into the nice person with the power tools. Repeat from * until shopping complete.
He did really well with his first attempt. Only 3 direct hits, 4 near misses and a damaged refrigerator.
After lining up the delivery and set up of his new improved dish dryer, we headed off to Wal Mart for more fun and games.
The carts there were a bit more sophisticated. The accelerator switch had both forward and reverse built right in! That was trouble. Squeeze it to the right and you went forward; to the left, reverse. And these babies hauled invalid ass! I had to quick step to keep up with him. And there, the employees joined in the game - ducking and running around and coming up behind. It was so funny. He looked like a kid on a carnival ride! A large, dangerous, conniving kid on a carnival ride.
The trip complete, we returned back to the house in time for the 10 foot tall Home Health Nurse Nazi to show catch us pulling into the garage. Ooops...busted!
Next time we head out will be to his first post op appointment and to Miracle Ear so he can watch television without blasting me into the next room.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Update from California

First I would like to thank everyone for the comments and good wishes. I cannot tell you how much that means to me.

Secondly, the dad person is doing really well. Up and moving around. Complaining because he is tired all the time. Grumpy because he can't do as much as he wants to do. Happy because he can do more now, 1 week after surgery, than he could for years before surgery.

Due to the sporadic availability of internet service, I can't promise another update soon. But, rest assured, I will be back, I love you all, and I hope you are having a great summer. Mine will start the beginning of August. Lots of fun to pack into a mere 30 days!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Have Arrived

I have a huge, long blog post, however, due to my low functioning brain, no pics. Left the all-important camera cord at home on my desk, where it belongs! LOL
But, here is a post anyway. Sorry about the no pics. I did get pictures of Luther Burbank gardens, Julliard Park, and my very first apartment in Santa Rosa. Those will all be posted as soon as I can get Hijo Segundo to send the cord to me.
So, without further lame excuses, here is the first, very long, very melancholy, California post.

I landed in California on the afternoon of June 26th. It was a warm, sunny day by New York state standards; cool and partly cloudy by those of the California crowd. My sister, my best friend, greeted me at San Francisco International with a huge smile on her beautiful face and a hug for me. As soon as my bag was retrieved, we set out for the North Bay area – Sonoma County.

The trip north was like a trip back in time. The heady scent of my childhood home, a mixture of eucalyptus and redwoods, fennel and dill, was like wine to my senses. Calming and invigorating all at once.

San Francisco was just as I remembered. A dichotomy of past and present. The pastels of the old Victorian homes clinging to the hillsides, the peace signs and psychedelic art of the 60s revived on store fronts and walls, and the chrome and gloss of the current era, all melded together to form the city.

We reach the Golden Gate. The rust orange bridge is a tourist attraction in and of itself. People travel miles to walk across it. People travel miles for the privilege of standing in the center of the structure to gaze to the east toward Alcatraz and west to the great, massive waters of the Pacific. It is a beautiful sight. If you haven't seen it, you must.

As we near the home of my teens the changes became more apparent. The orchards and fields and dairy farms gone; replaced by condos and homes and shopping centers. The occasional “green area” or park hinted at what once was. A plum tree in this one. An old barn, now a sitting area, in another. The field, where I would ride my beloved horse is now an “exclusive” neighborhood, not a trace remains of the trails or the stream my horse and I visited.

My father's house with the rose bushes, ponds and garden that my mother cherished is now overgrown. The grass a patchy remnant, the roses clinging bravely to life. The jasmine and gardenias, although still there, are being choked by blackberry bushes. The walkway to the front door is almost a memory as the juniper grows to cover most of it. This first view of my old home is a vivid, shocking, slap upside the head at the condition of my father's health, of his rapid decline from strong and active to weak and near invalid.

My internal checklist began to kick in. Yard work: prune and water roses – check – reseed lawn – check – Paint Front Door – stat! How he must feel. Knowing that his decline is reflected in the decline of his home.

I steel my heart for what I knew I would see once inside. But, I was spared. His health was a gentle decline. His spirit intact. His eyes glinted with the humor that was his and his alone. Although his body and pace were saying age, his words and laughter spoke of defiance. He was ready to live again; live as he hadn't since my mother's death in 2002. I was so glad to welcome him back, excited to meet my father again.

We had a few days to relax before his hospital stay. It was nice to be with my dad. His was a comfortable companionship. We laughed, we talked, we made plans. We. Made. Plans! So different from my last visit when he was giving up. Yes, I was so glad to welcome him back.

Today, I sit in the surgical waiting room, awaiting the visit from his surgeon, telling me that the aortic valve replacement went well. It has been a long wait. The surgery began this morning at 7 am and it is now almost 2 pm. My brother has called 3 times. My sister, 4. And, as I write this, Nieves, the surgical family counselor informs me that he is out of surgery and I will be able to peek in at him within the next half hour.

So, until next time...