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Monthly Archives: June 2008

My kids play a game called, Oh Really? The object of the game is to say something that is obviously incorrect and have somebody correct you. If you can do it you score a point. It goes something like this:

The sky sure is a bright green today.
The sky isn’t green, its blue.

Last Sunday I scored a couple of points off my son-in-law while he was watching a soccer match. I got one off my son too. A couple of hours later my Dad asked me if his stimulus check had come in he mail that morning.

“Dad, it’s Sunday, the mail didn’t run.”

“POINT!” he says. And nobody had explained the game to him, he figured it out on his own. Since then he’s gotten me 4 or 5 times. The last time he said, “I’m dying, but I’m not feeble.”

And to be honest with you, that’s one of the hard things for me. His body is betraying him, but he’s still as smart, and as quick with his mind, as he ever was. We played poker last night for a couple of hours and at least 10 times he told me what I was holding. “You made your two pair,” “You hit that straight,” “You made a set.” Each time he was right.

My Mom is bedridden, she can’t see, she’s going too, and she’s still mentally sharp too. I asked my Dad the other night if he needed another cup of coffee and he told me he only has two cups at night. My Mom didn’t miss a beat and said, “Yeah, more than that might kill him.”

I know that it is a blessing that they can still comunicate, and are still in full possesion of their faculties, but to know that they are still in those frail bodies just somehow doesn’t seem fair. I am grateful that we can talk, and laugh, and share memories. At home my next door neighbor has Alzheimers and to see him work in the yard, physically he’s still fine, but he doesn’t know anyone. Two sides of the same coin, getting old. Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

My son mentioned this in a comment on a different post. My parents own a burial plot in Ohio next to his mother’s. He has no intention of being buried there, he keeps telling me that I should put a “gone on vacation” sign on the plot when the time comes. His sister keeps insisting that she’s going to a least put a headstone on the plot, but dad gets extremly pissed when she says that.

Dad’s been a smoker for all his life, literally, he started when he was 7 or 8 years old. He was complaining the other day that he couldn’t smoke in his wheelchair by the door at the hospital when I went to park car. I jokingly said that we could put a bench with a couple of ashtrays on his burial plot and call it the LW Memorial Smoking Bench, and that when the Farm was done with his body we could put his ashes in the ashtrays.

He liked that idea. So if you’re ever in Lima Ohio and in a cemetary there, I don’t know which one, look for the bench. If you’re a smoker, have a seat and light one up for him.

Not really. But this is where him and my mom have donated their remains when the time comes.

They’ve always been willing to help where they could, in any way, and even at the end they can continue to do so.

[Actually, the farm is right next to the UT football stadium and dad says this way he can hear the cheers forever when his VOLS kick someone’s ass]

The hospice gears started turning in earnest today.  The nurse who will be taking care of Dad came.  While he was here the home health lady that bathes my Mom showed up.  While that was going on the social worker from hospice called and said he was on the way.  The nurse and the bath girl left.  15 minutes later the nurse was back to draw more blood.  While he was doing that the social worker showed up.  He started talking to Mom and it turns out the original lady that came out to sign up my Dad did some research on Mom and she is eligible for hospice services.  The volunteer arm of the hospice called and asked if there was anything they could do.  They’ll be out Thursday to explain what is available through them.  Beep, call waiting…  It’s the hospice chaplin, he’ll be out on Friday.  The nurse left and the social worker explained what services were available for Dad and then talked to Mom about getting her started.  She signed the paperwork and is now a hospice patient also.  15 minutes after the social worker left another nurse showed up to finish getting Mom admitted.  And while all that was going on FedEx showed up with a delivery of meds for Dad.

I know this is a huge relief for Dad, knowing that Mom will be cared for.  He was going fast anyway once I got here and could help with Mom, I expect it won’t be long now.  My wife and kids were here for a couple of days, but they left this morning.  Mom and Dad seemed to enjoy them being here, but I imagine they were also glad to get back to ‘normal’, whatever that is now.

There used to be a series of cartoons/t-shirts that began, “Love is…” and then would finish the sentence different ways.  I really know what love is now.  Love is my Dad being so weak that he can’t get out of his chair, but using whatever energy he has left to make sure my Mom is comfortable.  He’s dying, and the only thing he cares about is whether my Mom needs another pillow, or a refill on her diet coke.  Love is my Mom not being able to get out of bed and telling me to take care of my Dad first, that she doesn’t need anything, even though its obvious she does.  People wonder how to make marriage last.  Simple.  Put your partner’s needs first, even when you’re both literally days from death.

To begin, some quick background…

My Dad had a quad-or-quintuple bypass in 1992.  My Mother has been bed-ridden with various ailments for a couple of years and my Dad is her primary caregiver.  I live 800 miles away but I have a sister who lives in the same town as they do, and she helps a great deal.  Last September my Dad was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, but was told he probably had 5 or 6 years.  When the doctor told my Dad he had 5 years, Dad said that was two years longer than he expected before he found out about the cancer, so it looked like the cancer would prolong his life (Dad thinks he’s a funny guy.  And he is.).  Anyway…  When I called Sunday to wish him a happy father’s day he sounded very tired.  And he usually isn’t.  And then he told me they were stopping the treatment, and he was going on hospice.  The doctor gave him two weeks.

So…  now I’m in Tennessee.  I was here a year ago, on father’s day, and I wasn’t ready for how bad he looked.  I thought I was.  Nope.  At least school doesn’t start until August 12th, and I’ve got 70 days or so of sick leave if I need it.

Hospice was out this morning and talked to us all.  Dad signed the papers.  He has great faith, he knows where he’s going.  The only thing he worries about is what’s going to happen with Mom when he’s gone.  She tells him not to worry about it, she’ll be along right behind.

My sister and I don’t get along at all, she barely tolerates speaking to me, and my youngest brother, who lives nearby in Knoxville says he won’t come to the house if I’m here (and I don’t know what the hell I’ve done to piss him off).  My family is still in Oklahoma, but are planning to be here for a couple of days next week and then go back (because, not being teachers, they all still have to work).  I can talk to Mom and Dad about what’s happening, I understand completely where they are coming from, but damn, its still hard, so hopefully I can get some things out here that I don’t need to keep bottled up.  If it bothers you, take me off your reader for a while.  If you believe in prayer, send one up for my family.

This may not be the longest post I’ve ever written, but it’s taken me almost 4 hours to get through it.  Damn.

Biggest horse race of the year and there’s a horse called Da’ Tara.  The longshot.  38-1. 

I had to bet on that horse.  What the hell, for $20 I had to, right?




Thanks, cuz.