Sunday, November 29, 2009

Held tight

Sunday afternoon. A fir tree is in the stand relaxing its branches and filling the living room with so much fresh pine resin I’m almost comatose. We ran out to a tree lot after church and I chose the second one we banged on the ground. Walked around it and I said, that’s it. I usually take so long looking at so many and I get so tense and confused by this silly little decision that I give up and grab the next one and don’t even notice it is worm-eaten on one side, with a broken tip and crooked trunk. But this one is perfect. The Vikings are kicking Chicago. And so, ya, I complained loudly last August when He signed. Being a capricious, adulterous fan, I now consider Favre my own. I can’t even remember, did he play for the Packers? Anita and I have put candles in all the windows. Denis is unusually chatty. A good day.

In all, a good weekend. We drove those eight hours north to the Canadian border and spent Thanksgiving with our son and daughter-in-law. Love them and their little house bursting with color, canned goods, and the sounds of children. (True, the sounds could be a collapse of desperate howling as easily as laughing. Not unique, hey?) They have a new little one – Ava Lou. She’s only two months old but already knows the most important maxim of life – it is much nicer to be held close in someone’s arms for hours on end than to lie cold and unprotected in a crib. Much nicer.

On Wednesday night we arrived in time to watch Anson at hockey practice, which is serious business up there. Although he can’t manage an upright side-scrape stop, (falling down and hitting the boards works for now) he skates with such fierce enthusiasm

it’s scary.

We didn’t eat the turkey on the big day. The only turkeys were the decorated cupcakes Micah made for the kids. It was pig and fish for us. Jerem deep-fried fresh walleye – nothing like it - and grilled a porketta roast. It’s an odd thing that the few Italians who settled up there long ago and are almost extinct now left behind a tradition of deboning and rolling a pork roast in so much garlic and spice you could smell my breath from the far end of the Metrodome. Micah made the rest of the meal – all good, but her bread. Give her flour and yeast and she will turn it to gold. I guess I did do the apple cranberry pie. Oh. And Denis did the olive cheese plate. All good.

Got home last night and we plan to stay put forever. Not leaving home again. Ever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where am I

Past three weeks. For five years Marsena’s been caring for The Great Aunt, almost 89, and she can’t do it anymore. Her margins are gone. Plus she needs to find work. Denis and I have been here now almost a month. Helping make decisions. We’re so grateful there’s a beautiful memory care place The Aunt loves – she’s been there for respite care and can’t say enough good about it. The food! The comfort! The staff! Alzheimer’s makes you look at someone you know and love and even though you tell yourself this is not the person she used to be, nor is it the person she will be someday, you still get heart-sick, worried, even annoyed and you hate like anything to get drawn into petty arguments and corrections about whatever and yet you do. Or at least, I have. In my head, anyway, I’ve told her off. Sorry.

Day before yesterday. It’s time to move to assisted care. AR is angry and terrified. Any kind of change has always been a phobic catalyst. In these later stages of Alzheimer’s it’s worse. She’s lost the ground of who she is and what she can do. She’s saying dreadful things about Marsena. Doesn’t want to see her again. Threatening to have her “agents” on the east coast rescue her. She wants to go back to Mass. She HATES Autumn Leaves. She doesn’t want to see anyone. Her heart is broken, ours, too. We haven’t found ways to comfort her. Sorting through the remainder of her things is sad. The accumulation of possessions – how they’re too much at the end of life. But perhaps this is inevitable even when you clarify and eliminate, there’s still stuff. The staff at Autumn Leaves are saying give time, give time. Transition sometimes takes a few weeks. We hope so, we hope so.

Yesterday. Watching the Vikings play. Ah, love that Brett. Denis is under an afghan and drinking coffee. Marsena is downstairs doing a little work on the apartment, it helps her to be busy. We’ll be helping with more of that tomorrow. Denis is feeling worse today, sadder. I’m better, so that’s good.

Today. When I’m sick with a bad cold I drown in hot lemon tea with honey, so soothing. Today Psalm 103 is lemon honey. God’s love: forgives, heals, redeems, crowns with love and compassion, satisfies, works righteousness, justice, is great, from everlasting to everlasting. Praise for the soul. Praise for God. Haven’t seen The Aunt for three days, the staff advised letting her settle in first. We pray and pray.

Later. I went for the first visit. I'm scared. I observed her a moment, watching her in a comfy chair, her feet up, watching TV with others, (something none of us could do all day, which annoyed her no end). I saw her laugh. When I touched her, she looked up and beamed, “I was praying someone would come by to cheer me, and here you are! Where’s Marsena?!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Port Grim, Tasmania

I was deeply interested by the contrasts in this BBC news report, and the inexplicable, unpredictable response of humans. It seems there is a question to be asked: what explains or predicts human happiness? Can one be “happy” in a poisonous environment? Obviously, yes. I love clean air and pure water and think I can’t live without it, but perhaps we need exuberance, human laughter, shared community more than a perfect atmosphere?