I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past week or so just a few feet away from the Potomac River. I grew up on the Potomac and have some vivid memories of it. The weather is cold in Virginia now so there’s no temptation like there is in the summer to run out and jump in, clothes and all. I often feel like a Labrador Retriever that can’t wait to hop in, running at full speed until I just fall forward into the warm water. But when that’s not possible, I’m forced to look through a window or from afar to soak in its beauty.
In the past week, I’ve been fortunate enough to see the sun shine on the water, sparkling with laughter and lapping at the shore teasing me. In the evening, it turned black and syrupy as the moon shone over it, washing it in a white light that glistened. The wind blew so hard one day that the white caps warned of the impending chop and danger of a journey that shouldn’t be taken on that day. Lastly, I saw waves reaching for the shore but suspended in time, frozen by the wind and cold.
Each morning, after getting ready to head to the hospital to partake in my daddy’s recovery, help him walk again, encourage him, support him in any way I can, I pass by the window that faces the river. The view grabs me. I stop as I glance up and I’m trapped by the beauty of the expansive water. It seems friendly and inviting. I stare and try to take it all in. I’m drawn to it, my feet unable to move. I forget what I was doing and realize that I have to snap out of it and get going. I wonder if I’ll be able to sit and stare at lovely scenery when I’m older, when I don’t have places to be or things to do. When I don’t have a schedule or an agenda. I picture snow capped mountains, lakes with loons, green prairies, streams with jumping fish, grazing moose where I can spend all the time I want to take it all in. Paint the scene on my brain so that I remember it forever but know full well that I don’t have to remember it because I
can go visit it again the next day.
As I grab my things and head to the door to leave, I wonder if people who are fortunate enough to have a view that is beautiful and inviting get tired of it. Does it become every day so it gets camouflaged with the surroundings, allowing them to rush by and no longer see it? Does the beauty wear off? Do they ever need a change of scenery? I dream of having my own beautiful spot to stare at someday in this world. I’ll share my view with those I love and cherish it each and every day.
I’ve found over the past few days that it is practically engrained in us to refuse help. We don’t want to be a bother. Don’t want anyone to have to go out of their way. It’s sometimes hard to decipher what exactly to do. We lean towards wanting to be polite without regard to what we really desire or expect and it usually ends in resentment.
I was discussing this with a close friend today and she said that it’s all a bunch of game playing that we do with ourselves. We talk ourselves into thinking that it’s the other person’s fault for not expressing what they really want when in fact, the fault is our own. If you know what the right thing is to do, then don’t ask the question(s). “Do you want me to come”, “Do you want me to stay”, “Do you want me to go”, etc.
When I first found out my father had a stroke, I didn’t know if I should go be by his side. I wanted to be there. I should’ve said “I’ll be right there”. I didn’t. I asked “Should I come”? As soon as I said it, I thought back to just a few weeks earlier when I’d been on the phone with him, asking if he wanted me to come for the holidays. We went through the same process. He wanted me to come but didn’t want me to bother with it. He wanted me to wait because he wanted to come see me in the spring as if it were a multiple choice selection (he could only have me visit him OR him visit me). He finally suggested that I wait to visit with the caveat that I could come if I really wanted to.
With so much wishy washyness going on, I figured he really didn’t want me to come so I booked a trip elsewhere. While traveling for that trip, I got the call that he’d had a stroke. Before being told of what had happened, I was asked if I was in a place that I could talk. I looked around the airport terminal and didn’t know how to answer so I didn’t. I stood in the middle of the isle not knowing what to do. It was suggested I sit down, so I did. Imagining what was about to be told to me, I backed up to a wall and slid down until I was squatted down on the floor.
I asked if I should come. He told me I didn’t have to. I was confused. A stroke was bad news. I heard the word paralysis and tried to comprehend what was going on. How could I not go? I was told he was fine. Fine? I looked around and saw people in the seating area of the airport looking at me. I was confused. I said that I needed to get to my destination before I could make arrangements to get to him. I was afraid I would never see my luggage again if I detoured mid-trip, during my layover. But in the time I was trying to comprehend what the hell was going on and what I was supposed to do, my partner had retrieved our bags and rebooked our flight.
I relayed that we were on our way and asked if perhaps my dad didn’t want me to come. It was too much and I broke down. I sobbed at the thought that my dad didn’t want me there. Thankfully, that was not the case and before long, I was on my way. After a long day of travel, I arrived at my dad’s bedside that evening. The first thing he said was “Thank you for coming”.
I learned from my friend today that it’s not about what others want sometimes. I knew what the right thing was to do and rather than questioning it, I should’ve just done it. I am going to go. No more questions.
Now to try and get that through to my dad. He says he’d like a shower and when a nurse comes in, he says it’s ok, he doesn’t need one right that minute thinking that he’s being a bother, so they leave. He gets mad after 10 minutes when they’ve not returned to give him one. We ring the nurse to set up a time. She asks what time and he says it doesn’t matter. He prefers his showers in the evening so when they give him one in the morning, he complains that he doesn’t get them at night. We request them at night and he says anytime is fine.
Now I know where I get it from. There are a lot of people out there that do this same thing. It’s not limited to parents. It encompasses friends, relatives, people in the store. It’s personal, mental game playing that has started to drive me crazy. I want to make a late New Year’s resolution to stop the games.
I talk to my Granddaddy on the phone every so often and each time I do, we talk about the same things. First, we cover the weather. He tells me all about what’s happening in his area, as if I needed a weather report for a town that’s 3,000 miles away, and it’s never good. It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too wet. Then he asks what it’s like where I’m at but since he can’t hear too well, I give it a few tries to which he gets frustrated with because he doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say. He attempts a few times to repeat back what I’m trying to tel him and after a mild screaming match, we reach consensus on the weather.
The next topic that always follows the weather is how we’re both doing. He always hems and haws about one thing or another. It used to be his sinus’ and arthritis but ever since he had heart surgery, it’s been that he has shortness of breath. There’s nothing wrong with him. He goes to the doctor once a week to doctors that he rotates through. The closest determination is that it’s anxiety. But since none of the doctors talk to one another or will take the time to figure out a solution, he continues his rounds. One doctor actually did provide him with an anti-anxiety pill but they told him it was for his nerves so he won’t take it saying that there’s nothing wrong with his nerves. Would it be wrong to lie to him? He takes his heart pill religiously because it’s for his heart. Why not just tell him that he needs an additional pill for his heart because of the shortness of breath?
We then roll into the old memories that he has of me and him playing in the garden. It’s the same every single conversation. He misses me but even if I visited him tomorrow, he wouldn’t remember it. But he’d call me and reminisce once again about when I was a little girl and would visit him and my Grandma. He’s been tested for Alzheimer’s and doesn’t have it but his tests for dimensia also come back negative. I don’t know if there’s a way to fool the tests but when given simple things to remember, he can’t. His primary care doctor knows that he’s getting worse but it seems that there’s nothing we can do. He was scheduled to have a series of memory tests done but when he was told that they were memory tests and that they’d take 3 hours to perform, he got angry and left, huffing that there was nothing wrong with his memory.
Lastly, we discuss how lonely he is. He has a companion that we’re sure is taking advantage of him but we can’t convince him of it. I’ve researched elder abuse and spoken with elder service people and as long as he’s willingly making the decisions, there’s nothing that can be done. We urge him to keep an eye on his finances but when approached about it, he doesn’t remember so our discussions go nowhere. We toured some senior communities but they’re for “old people” which he thinks he’s not. He is in good shape for 86 years old but he in no way feels that he’s old. It’s a good thing but not. So, we go round and round about him wanting to stay in his home but that he’d be so much happier in a community but he’s stubborn and won’t listen at all.
It’s frustrating for everyone. It drives me crazy that housing for elder people is so expensive and that there’s no way to convince him that he’d be so much better off. I can understand wanting to remain in a familiar place but I don’t understand sitting there, day in and day out, alone. My Granddaddy does have a job but he’s gotten so bad physically and mentally that the church that he’s working at is having a hard time accommodating him any further. I know everyone goes through this. I just thought I’d write about it. If you have suggestions or ideas, please leave them in the comments.
Have you ever heard words coming out of your mouth and as they do, you wish you could reach up and grab them out of the air? As you feel them roll off of your tongue, take a deep breath to retrieve them back into your mouth, turning back time? I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that over my life. No one is perfect and sometimes shit comes out that is hurtful or just unnecessary.
I did it just recently and it’s been weighing heavily on me. I know that things get said and not everyone means every possible thing they say but it doesn’t change the fact that words are hurtful sometimes. I know that often, people don’t even realize they’re saying hurtful things. I’m one that is overly sensitive to things being said to me. I over analyze things and read way too much into conversations.
I fall victim to the feelings of needing to be accepted or to fit in and I lose my sense of judgment. I suppose it happens to everyone but it’s bugging me. How do you apologize to someone you’ve wronged without them knowing that you wronged them?
I’ve been working on a Pumpkin, Curry and Coconut Milk soup today. I’ve been doing more chores in between the processes of simmering the onions, heating the stock, heating the pumpkin. It smells awesome but doesn’t taste so much so. It’s had me doctoring the dish for a few hours now. I added more curry. Added more salt. Let it simmer for a bit. Added some smoked, hot paprika. Nope. Just not doing it for me. It’s not like I’ve made this dish before or even tried it at a restaurant and just can’t reproduce it. This is a first time dish. I’m kind of disappointed. It took the remainder of my Halloween pumpkin meat to make the soup so I’ll have to wait until I disassemble and process the other one before being able to make more dishes. But I don’t want to give up just yet. However, I wonder if I’ll like the dish no matter what I do to it. It has the consistency of potato soup, which I love, so I have hope that I can make it good but I don’t want to keep adding ingredients (like my prized sweet potato that I’ve been waiting to bake and eat with tons of butter, cinnamon and ginger that’s now diced and in the soup pot – my reasoning was just as I said, it resembles potato soup so why not chunks of potato, or better yet, sweet potato?) and up the amount of items I may ultimately throw in the trash. It made me think on the question, is it better to try something and not like it, having wasted the money, time, energy, etc. on something rather than not having tried it at all. It sucks, yes, but absolutely, it’s worth every bit of wasted everything! I love trying new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. When they work, they’re usually awesome and when they don’t, then I know better for next time.
At least tomorrow is trash day!