I am not a…

I am not a bleeding-heart liberal, a tree-hugging hippie or any other unpopular niches (well there was that time I found myself chained to a rather magnificent fir in Oregon…there were a few others there: some with long hair, there were some chain saws and bulldozers and, oh yes, people in State Trooper uniforms).

But, to me, issues far more important than irreplaceable tree have arisen.

A floppy haired Thumper has taken it upon himself to insult an entire race, as the Irish have endured in the past (before my time), the (not PC I’m sure) Blacks (old enough to have lived through that time and far too simple-minded to grasp it all).

Not long before the Thumper’s rant; the Supreme Court acknowledged “same sex” marriage as, essentially, legal. Loving couples that have been together, suffered indignities, denial of rights and benefits are now “legal”.

One of our major political parties, well-funded, not much fun really are struggling with these events. They’re afraid to confront the Thumper (ass though he is) because he’s a scrapper…but they really want that one group’s vote. Problem.

“Same sex”, well, anything is law…but we have been against it for so long; how are the voters responding.

Not a Party, candidate or current ideal is seeking the human vote, standing up for the persons (a collection of Individuals, unique and yet part of a thriving community).

So much for the political front; what of the home front.

As these events have unfolded, the SWMBO has expressed great fear that the world as we know it will soon end. A gay fairy, I imagine, will be flying over the land touching all the children (and adults, except her) and the United will be dancing naked in the streets, tossing flower petals in the air, boys kissing boys, girls kissing everyone. All leading to the fate of “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

And as for the Thumper’s rant: “We all know he’s right, but you just can’t say it out loud”.

There is no understanding in the house

The Irish have come so far as to have had one of their own elected president; but, in this land, we have a far distance to travel before we look about and find the persons that are around us. And politicians go beyond the quest for the “human” vote and seek the human (within?)

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Hello…Good-bye…Later

For those that have not noticed, I have been away.  I was way down under, down under a large pile of covers.  This served a dual purpose; I was wonderfully warm and cozy and with the covers pulled over my head I was invisible (well it seemed to work when I was three).,

I was dragged from my hiding place kicking and screaming; “Mom is expecting us for breakfast, get dressed, you can have your coffee on the way.”

“Mom”, is Marion (Wicked Witch of the West, one of the octogenarian couple and mother to the SWMBO), Marion is suffering with cancer and is at present going through the first of four cycles of chemotherapy; I have assisted with her in-home care.

“John (elder brother to the SWMBO and present care giver to “Mom”).wants to have a talk.”

Family conversations, at least those within the SWMBO’s family, are not on my top ten best things; actually sitting in on one thiumeir conversations is like being a very special corner of Hell.

Dad (John senior, male component of the octogenarian couple) was at the kitchen staring at his empty coffee cup and trying desperetly to reach through the fog of his dementia and remember what he was going to do with this thing in his hand.  “Mom” was in her bed, sighing, afraid to get up, mentally reviewing her morning list of medications, “Cyndi”, she yelled down, “do I have any Imodium…I have to have Imodium, I’ve got diarrhea again.  Where’s my orange juice, can’t take my pills without my orange juice.”

John (the elder brother)sat in the blue wing-back chair tucked in the far corner of the living room, his face concealed  by the open book he held.

“How long has she had diarrhea, Johnnie?”

“Since Thursday.”  He turned a page.  “I’m leaving next Tuesday .”  His head turned slightly to his right as moved his gaze to the next page, he paused briefly and again, turned the page.

“Mom, and you making it to the bathroom alone?  Michael, make sure she’s cleaning herself.  Michael’s going to get you down for doughnuts.  When are you coming back ?”  The SWMBO was definitely in the house.

Never revealing his face, “Don’t know.”  Another page gone.

The SWMBO’s voice could be heard throughout the house, “John, come to the table for doughnuts.”

From his chair, eight feet away, “Don’t eat breakfast.”

“Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts.”  Dad looked from box to box opened on the table.

“Dad, you’ve eaten three jelly doughnuts already,” I said, “can I get you more coffee?”

“Three, are you sure?  They were really fresh.  Three?…Are there any jelly doughnuts, I like jelly doughnuts…when they’re fresh.  Are there any jelly doughnuts?”

On the ride home; “You’ll have to stay there through the week; I’ll come over on Saturdays and you can go home over the weekend.  You’ll have be back Sunday afternoon.  That should give you time to take care of our yard.  I think you know that the only way this is going to work is if they move in…its the only way we will be able to spend any time together…its the only way they can save any money…its the only way…and when I’m home, I can help you with them.   Oh, State Farm wants everyone in the Division to put in fourteen hours OT every month.  If you were still working I would be happy to retire and help more.”  The SWMBO was driving, nibbling on her fingernails, interrupted only by a need to adjust the temp control.

“…its the only way” was fading away as in my mind I pictured climbing under a large pile of blankets and once more becoming invisible.

 

 

Dear friends, with my new (insane) schedule and the duties involved, I will be restricted to writing one day a week.  I promise to share my meditations from the weed garden and observations and conversations with warriors of the finest ilk.

The NW Oncology Group, here in Kennesaw (GA), provides chemotherapy treatments for 60-75 victims of cancer daily.  Some, like Mom, once a week, others; every other week or so.  There are no masques there, no casts, they face a common foe, and…and there are no tears.

There are smiles, gregarious outbursts of affection, it is never quiet and there is much laughter.  I can not say I know the cause, I can only speculate at this point, but I hope to find out what it is that brings light and laughter into their lives and I promise I will share.

 

peace out, pilrims

 

My Clock

 

 

“Michael, you are going to have to look after Mom and Dad.  Gather your things.”  The SWMBO said in her most endearing voice.

She was referring to the ‘Octogenarians’; the Wicked Witch of the West (Mario) and he who does not/cannot/will not listen (John).

“Yes, dear.  How long will I be staying…just to be sure how many of “my things” I will need to gather?”  I said over my shoulder as I made some futile adjustments to my clock.  It is a two hundred year old case, mostly, with a great number of original workings; the balance found on “Stealitback.com” and canabalised parts from more contemporary clocks.  It runs 2 minutes, 38 seconds slow in any given 24 hour period; as close as I will ever get.

 Between 2100 and 2130 every night I Wind the clock and the chimes and set it just short of 3 minutes fast, every night that I’m home.  “How long do you think I’ll be there?”  I said a bit louder.

“Johnnie will be coming down to help out after his trip to Hawaii, he is going to need to get his things together; close the house, take care of his mail, visit the cousins…oh six to eight weeks.”

“They are your parents; you, John, and Chris…is Chris coming down to ‘help out’?”

“Johnnie’s doing all he can, Chris is just too busy and you know I have to hold down my department.  And you, you’re not doing anything…you’re retired.”  The SWMBO walked from the kitchen to the living room, TV remote in her hand, “Pack for a week, I’ll relieve you after that.”

 “Gotcha.  Hon, please remember to wind the clock.”

 Nine days later I received a rare call from the SWMBO, it was 1000, “Yes, luv?”  With the SWMBO it was always best to ask what she wanted first; the conversation was going to get there soon enough.

“I’m having a miserable day, everyone knows how hard it is on me, Mom having cancer, and with the chemo side effects, everyone thinks I should be with her.  Well, at least I’ll beat the traffic.  Make sure you have finished their back yard.”

“Its been three years since a self respecting rake would be caught dead in that forest. How do you expect me to have it cleaned up.  Did you forget I’m feeding your mother and father, arguing with both about any PT and carrying her up the stairs to bed.  You do know that she can walk up stairs perfectly well and all of this is just to torment me, don’t you?”

“Whatever, I’ll be there soon”

Not long after the garage door open, I was certain it was to the sound of trumpets sounding.

“Hello, Mom.  How are you doing?”  The SWMBO yelled out to the living room not looking for a response; from the corner of the couch a small, frail looking figure with very thin silver hair mumbled…something.

“I was going to talk to him about that right now, don’t worry.”  The SWMBO’s superhuman powers were astonishing (and not a trifle scary).

“I know you wanted to take your little fishing trip, after the chemo and all…”

“That won’t be for three or four months and I am taking “my little fishing trip”…and?”

“We’ve talked about that, and you’re spasms…you need to use your cane so much now…and your voice…well we, Mom, Johnnie and I feel you would not be safe, wading in streams, you could fall…and…and drown; we really can’t let you do that.

“Oh when you get to the house, the lawn is a mess; take care of that, walk Duchess and QVC has a Quacker Factory program at 6:00pm, I’ll need to be home for that.”

“Gotcha, back in five hours.”

“Oh, Michael, Johnnie’s been delayed another week.  Love ya.”

The garage door at the house squeaked a bit, I’ll need to lubricate that.  I walked through the door from the garage into the living room, my 18 year old puppy, the cats Poe and Callie were all asleep on the couch; Alix would be stretched out to capture the sliver of sunlight that escaped the blinds in the office at this hour.

The house was quiet, save Callie’s snore and the silence was ripping a hole in an already injured heart.

There was no ticking as the pendulum would have swung, back and forth; the dark wall clock, with the two  hundred year old case, mostly, was quiet.

The clock hadn’t been wound.

I took the ten minutes to properly set the time, wound the clock, set the pendulum in motion.  I watched the slow movements of the hands now set almost three minutes ahead.  Content that the world was right again, I shut and locked the case.

Image

“Duchess, baby”  I said as I scratched her ears and kissed her head, “Let’s go for a walk and I’ll leave the leash on so you’re not committed to chasing the rabbits.  And then treats…before I mow the lawn.

 

 

peace out, pilgrims

 

 

Untitled (which is a title actually, isn’t it?)

It’s taken me six days to remember how to breathe; and I’m still trying to master sleep.

At this point I will issue a product warning:  this is the season of Lent, a time when I reviewed all the things that I might give up; chocolate is a favorite, ice cream (that’s a biggie), when I was younger; sex (solo and shared).  This has ben a year of changes and reflections; this year I was going to take more on: more prayer (10% of my day, 2.5 hours), teaching Sunday School…giving, not taking on.  So I prayed on it, right?

Answered prayer is a bitch.

I am with the octogenarians, parents to my wife, the SWMBO.  I asked to do this(?).  Mom has been diagnosed with a cancer; it has metastasized to her spine…limiting her movement in shoulders, arms and hands and has brought on pain, pain of a level she had not known before.

Now let’s us introduce pain meds, fun for a day or two and then the hallucinations, the falling and an unpleasant disposition.

We’ll add in a heavy dose of denial, “mini-strokes” and the onset of dementia.

Do, do be sure you ask for what you want in prayer.

Communication is a challenge;  Drs. don’t recognize my status, they talk to Mom, I remind her of the conversations and I’m a liar, Dad’s in the room, physically.  “Dad, do you understand what we are going to be doing?”

“What’s on tonight?  Tues is NCIS?”

“It’s Friday”

“Mom, we have to be at the Interventional Radiologist’s office in half an hour, have you got everything?”

“I don’t want to go, I don’t need to go, I’m strong.”

“If you walk away from this fight without the weapons they’ll give you…you’ll be weaker in spirit and body and you will lose.  And you may very well die.  It will kill you.”

“Give me your hand and we’ll go get you signed in”

“I hate you.  No one is going to run my life.  Don’t treat me like a child.”

“I know…you can call your insurance company and see if they will cover a care giver you like…after we get you signed in”

Dear readers,

Did you know that there are things YOU can do to help a cancer patient, their family and care givers endure the time before, during ad after treatments.

Every treatment center waiting room has a book exchange with very limited numbers of old, for the most part tasteless, paperbacks.

You’re writers, artists and readers; collectors, gather books; stand up at your Starbucks and ask.  For those that are truly bold, volunteer yourself for twenty minutes a month and make sure that the two shelves on a small book case has something to offer…maybe your new tome.

Answer someone else’s prayer, qietly let them know that someone cares when they may in doubt.

Peace out

mw

The Octogenarians

I have referred to the SWMBO’s parents with humor in the past and hope to do so for a long time to come.

Today Marion, the octogenaria, called and asked to be taken to her Dr’s for a follow-up on an MRI done yesterday.  We were greeted by an ashen faced young doctor that’s lack of eye contact revealed his lack of preparation for this conversation.

John, the octogenaro, suffering from dementia, was for a moment able to grasp the gravity of the situation.  He was to be envied as that moment slipped away and he faced the world afresh.

New doctors were met.  Doctors with warm hand shakes, comforting smiles and caring eyes; they’d had many of these consultations and they cared in a distant sort of way.

Test were started, more scheduled and the process begins.

Cynthia, the SWMBO, the only child in residence, faces monumental tasks, beginning with waking each day and living.  There will be a time when she falls apart, shattered like a jig saw puzzle and that’s part of the process.  To find a little time in the day to put a piece in place, to understand the picture, the person, you are and each day you have a little more to offer.

I’ve been broken, damaged many times, lost most of , I asthe pieces of the this puzzle, I only seem to be strong…I only cry over happy endings.

For those that read this I ask for your prayers for Marion, John, Cynthia and all the people whose puzzles need attention.

peace out, mw

Birthday Songs

Reviewing notes left over the decades in moleskins tucked away in boxes here and there.

Turning 60

I never thought much about life,

Spent many long hours, dwelling on death

Never saw a contribution as possible

Tomorrow, yes it is tomorrow

I’ll own 6 decades…

And now, now

There are things I want, need to do

Lord help me…I have goals

Where do I find any help

To reach those ends?

I discovered a story

It must be told.

In a new language

Foreign

A language

Of hope

Don’t know

Where to begin

But can’t stop movin’

Or I’ve died already.

Wise men have said;

Know but on tounge

You are ignorant

Know but one faith

You’re a fool

Stop laughing at yourself

And you’ve

Lost

Your sense of humor

Throw-Away People?

Not long ago I promised myself that I would be here daily…and I haven’t.  I have been running through the house(s)  (mine. the octogenarians and my neighbors’) looking for things to fix; preferably those things that seem beyond repair and things to sharpen (knives, tools, my wit).

In all honesty, I am a simpleton; there are a great number of things that I just don’t understand.  If I can’t wrap my tiny little mind around an idea/concept; I fix things.

A simple tinker I am.

Should the Truth behind the concept totally escape me, the more elaborate the tinkering; I’m trying to repair an antique wall clock (never done it before) and I’m sharpening every knife, wood plane and ax on the block.

Tinkering is my path to the Truth; a clock is running properly or its not; a knife will cut or it won’t…a concept has Truth or it doesn’t; the perfect world for a simpleton.

John J., one of the octogenarians, father to the SWMBO, suffers from vascular dementia (according to Marion J., not nearly as much as she does).  The nature of this affliction is such that he will reach plateaus and then declines with no chance for improvement.  John’s declines have been happening in rapid succession, effectively shrinking his world.

John also has an abdominal aneurism that is growing, growing to the point that it is becoming life threatening.  The repair is a simple, out-patient procedure.

Thus far I have had no problem, certainly nothing that would drive me to my wet stones.

John’s doctor, a more than competent vascular surgeon, has suggested that doing the procedure would be a waste of time, considering the rapidly advancing state of his dementia.  “He probably won’t live more than two maybe three years longer.” (Quoting the doc, not me).

John remembers every classmate he had from grade 4 through high school; he’s told me (more than twice) about his time in WWII as a parachute rigger, the flood in ’62 to that devastated his home town, his adventures with his Dad and Uncle Joe at the Russian Club in Seymore, CT.

We share war stories and I listen, he likes to talk; he loves music and he reads a lot.  Is he a perfect specimen? Hell no.  Is he alive, fully living? I don’t know.

Over dinner the SWMBO, the octogenarians and me discussed his upcoming procedure, “Why am I doing this?” He asked.

“So you don’t die, Dad”.

“Oh, good…I don’t want to die.”

I am an uneducated old man and I have made few, if any, contributions to peoplekind, I’ve never held any title of note; other than: simpleton and tinker.

I fix clocks, pots, vacuums and gnomes; I play in the dirt and enjoy the company of children and madmen; I speak softly and when I laugh it can be heard for miles.

The Truth is: I can’t, I won’t, throw away a toaster if I can brown one more piece of bread with it.  I can find NO Truth in judging a man unworthy to live.

I’ve heard John’s tales many times and I will hear them many more (God willing); I will listen and ask questions…if only because it gives him joy.  But, his two young great-grandsons must hear his stories, they are their history.

Well, I have four knives in front of me right now that require my attention…and I will try not to think of all the other doctors across the land, that hold the life of a man or woman that is too old, too feeble, too poor, too simple to own the days, the months, the years that are rightfully theirs.

I am far too simple to find the Truth in that.