Monday, July 30, 2012

Mostly Reading

I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which was good. I'd give it a 3.9/5
And, at Clint's recommendation, I also read/finished Black Like Me by John Griffin.

Which was enlightening. And fascinating. And a little bit like The Help, but not exactly, because The Help is a novel (about women in the South in the early '60's) and this book is a TRUE ACCOUNT of the south, from a white male perspective: 

"John Howard Griffin, a 39-year old white journalist of Sepia Magazine, changed his skin color and stayed for seven weeks in Deep South, USA among the black population. The year was 1959 prior to the Washington March and passing of the major civil rights bill in 1964."

Like I said, the book was fascinating.
But the author himself is quite a remarkable person, with an incredible life story: 

"In his sixty years (1920-1980) Griffin fought in the French Resistance, lost his eyesight as a result of an explosion during a Japanese air raid in the 1940's, became Catholic, married and had four children, became a spokesman for the Civil Rights Movement, UNEXPECTEDLY RECEIVED HIS SIGHT AGAIN in the late '50's, went 'uncover' to research racism in '59, wrote the book in '61 then had to move his family to Mexico as a result of the death threats ..."

I would recommend this book. 


"Who's going to bury us?", my dad asks my mom.
This is a whole new line of questioning, and mom answers non-committedly, "Oh, I imagine someone will find a hole to toss us into..."
My dad nods.

The next day, "I don't want to die."
My mom responds, "Dear, you are not dying. You will be around for a long, long time yet. Don't worry."

The following day, he looks at my mom with complete and utter admiration in his eyes, "You're beautiful." And then the tears flow. He can't help himself. 

She is beautiful. 
She has cared for him every single day (since she came home from the bowel surgery in '07), by herself. 

When she walks into that care facility, he lights up. She is his. And she is the prettiest one of the bunch. She is 72 years old and doesn't have a wrinkle. Or a grey hair. HOW CAN THIS BE? (Well, maybe she does, and I need to get new glasses to see them, but still. You get what I'm saying.) 

I spent Saturday morning with my dad. When I got there, he was sitting in his wheelchair in the dining room, even though it was over an hour til lunch time. 
"JANE!" he yelled. "NICE TAN!"
"Hi dad. What're you doing here already?"
He pointed to his name label, stuck onto his corner of the table. "PETE KLASSEN!" he bellowed.
"Yup, this is where Pete Klassen sits. How about we go for a cruise around the building?"
"Hey, the pillow on your head rest is gone."
He nods.
"Why did the nurses's take it off?"
He shrugs.

We start our tour of the building, stopping first at his room, where I drop off my purse and look for his head-rest-pillow. Which isn't anywhere. Then we head to the elavator, going first to one floor, then the next. He's not talking at all, but his head keeps looking from side to side, looking into everyone's rooms. I think he likes being pushed. I think he likes seeing the rest of the building. Of course I don't know for sure, but he never complains, never asks to go back to his room, and never has to pee while I keep him moving forward. So I keep pushing. And he keeps looking.

We circle around the main floor quite a few times, going in and out through the three doors that open to the garden in the back. I wheel him up to the door, and he (proudly, I think) presses the wheelchair access OPEN button so that the door will open for us. He was always a gentleman, opening the door for us (me, Mom, Jule ... all women, really) and I think that by allowing him to press that button, he feels like he is opening the door for me again.

Sometimes we play shuffleboard, sometimes we just look for the cats, sometimes we check out the birds, we never stop at the bunny cages which smell gross, and eventually we make our way back up to the third floor. 

As we manoeuvre his chair back into his spot in the dining room I ask Leeta if she knows where his  
pillow is. "Noooo, eeets gone?" 
She goes to his room to take a look.
Shona comes over to give dad his crushed up meds mixed into thickened cranberry juice. 
Leeta mentions to Shona that the pillow is gone. Shona says, "It will be around here somewhere. Remember last night? He took his socks off and hid them under those pillows in the TV room. It'll show up eventually." 

They move on to care for another senior, and I look at dad.
"Did YOU take the pillow off your chair?"
"YES!" He nods.
"Why?" I ask. Which was totally a stupid question.
He shrugs.
"Where did you put it?" I ask, not expecting an answer.
"Over there," he points. "Under the couch."

So I walk over to the large common room, and move the couch away from the wall. Sure enough, there's the pillow, on the floor. Under the couch. Exactly where he put it. 

Shona and Leeta are watching me from the dining room.
In awe. 
"He told you where it was?"
I nod. 

How he got it off is a mystery.
Why he took it off? Again - who knows?
And the fact that he remembered where he put it? Sigggghhh. Oh dad. 

I feed him his lunch and don't stop praying through the whole procedure. 
He keeps choking.
His face and entire head turn a deep shade of red as he struggles to clear his throat and gasp for a breath. 
I pray that he won't die this way. In the dining room, with me putting teensy spoonfuls of mush into his mouth. By the time we're finished, I'm a wreck. 

I wheel him to the end of his hall, where the end wall is a huge picture window. It's bright and sunny here. Mom joins us a few minutes later; smiling and cheerful as she greets him with a kiss. She sits close to dad, and asks him how he is.
"GOOD!" he says, like he hasn't just about died a choking death half a dozen times a few minutes before. 

She pulls his wheelchair close and settles in for the afternoon. 
"You're beautiful" dad says with tears in his eyes as he gazes at her.

This is too much for me. I can't stop crying, so I step away. 

When will I be able to handle all of this without falling apart? Is this going to get easier? 
What will my old age look like? 
Will my boys still gaze into their wives's eyes and find them beautiful when they're 76?

Aging was God's plan for us. 
He never intended that the last chapters of our story-lives would be easy or painfree. I think he did it this way so that we would long for heaven. And the average person probably does. 

My dad is not average. 

I am average enough for both of us.


Three FIVE things I'm thankful for:
1. Supper with my mom on Saturday night after church. It's always good to process things with her. 
2. Lunch with Val (and some of the guys in our lives) on Sunday afternoon, outside in her backyard, with the sun shining and a breeze blowing. Kinda a perfect day.
3. A quiet evening at the lake. Just me and the moths up here. 
4. Another showing on Saturday - really this is quite promising even though it's mildly annoying.
5. The OLYMPICS are on. Woman's soccer. Men's swimming. Who knew I'd care? 



Today's verse (an easy one):

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

1 comment:

My Thots said...

I remember reading that book in my high school Lit class and I really enjoyed it.
Thanks for the reminder, I might just reread it now for fun.