Friday, February 25, 2005

Come to Rest

Maybe I woke up last Sunday night because I was dreaming about the beach, or maybe it was because I had the feeling you get when you can already tell you’ve lost a game, and yet you know you have to finish playing anyway. Whatever it was, I was awake, so I listened to see if Dad was breathing. When I had fallen asleep, he was snorting and huffing erratically in the chair which he couldn’t work up the strength to rise from after the long trip home from the hospital, and if I raised my head a little I could see his face in the strip of blue light between door and jamb. Upon waking, I propped myself up enough to see that the oxygen hose was sliding up and down as his chest, where the hose rested, rose and fell. I was proud of him for sleeping so peacefully that I couldn’t hear.

His combination of illnesses requires the most tender balance of medications, and it takes just the slightest misguided overprescription of one to cause a ruckus. Since his three nights in the hospital and a reevaluation of his meds, he’s lost 30 pounds of fluid (30 pounds of fluid! can you imagine how oppressive to your system?!) and regained a lot of strength. He’s alert and comfortable and walking, which is all we could ask. For the first time in a long time I think there’s a possibility he may get a little more out of life for a while. I know that Parkinson’s and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and what appears to be congestive heart failure won’t just go away. But I also know now that he won’t just give up, and a big scare seems to have done him good. I send my heartfelt thanks to everyone who wished him well; it made all the difference.

And out of all this come many realizations, not the least of which is how easily and often my mother’s heroism and incredible strength shine through her rather ordinary human form. After single-handedly resuscitating Dad (fifteen years a P.E. teacher and you never forget basic first aid, apparently) and the long ordeal that followed, she never once let on that she was afraid or alone. And when I accompanied her home Saturday after they decided to keep him another night, she automatically went into Mom mode, bustling and busy, as always. I suggested that I was around to help her prepare for him to come home, and she said “no, come to rest. Rest up so you can get over that cold.” She kept saying that I’d be moral support for him, but I think just having me around, whether to converse with or care for, was support enough for her, too.

Tonight I suffered one of my occasional emotional spasms about death, my own in particular (oddly enough). I just adore life so much that I can’t bear to think how brief it is. I don’t think it was really connected to the episode with Dad; it was just driving the frosted Wyoming badlands tonight in moonlight so bright that my little truck actually cast a shadow. My Raider is oddly cube-shaped, which makes its shadows extra fun, but I digress. All it takes is a good song on the radio and thoughts of all the pleasant things I’m anticipating in life to plunge me into despair that it can’t all last forever.

Here is a silly story about a case of mistaken identities involving two guys in Kemmerer named Felix, and Eva, who is one Felix’s cousin. Eva called my friend John one evening last week to ask if he knew where Felix was. John assumed she meant the elderly Felix Gratisky, who was in the hospital in Jackson Hole with a broken arm and hip after a fall on some ice, and he told her so. She sounded terribly upset, so he offered to drive her up there the next day. Eva must have called the hospital because she called John back a little while later and, in a strange voice, carefully asked the question: “John, can I talk to Felix?” Then the light came on and poor John said “sure,” and handed the phone to Felix Abriani, who had been sitting in the chair next to him the whole time.

Tonight I was in such a strange mood that I half expected to find a UFO planted firmly in the middle of my lane on Highway 189, but instead I found a deer. I was going slow enough to safely swerve and honk and she bolted, and for once a deer bolted in the right direction: away from my much-abused bumper. Although, after what that bumper did to a Pontiac years ago at an intersection in National City, California, I should be worried for the deer.

This purposeful post is losing steam fast. I just wanted to say that Dad is fine and Mom is the greatest and I am so glad I can’t express it and so tired I can’t think straight.

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