4/22/2010

Reality from a Different View

For the past nine days, I’ve been in Auburn, a suburb of Seattle, where I grew up. I’ve been taking care of my dad, who’s undergone both a scheduled and an unexpected eye surgery. A discovery found during the second surgery makes the prognosis for his continuing ability to see very gloomy. The doctor said that when one retina is full of holes, generally the other one is too.

I had come expecting it to be a mini-vacation of sorts, with plenty of time to read, to blog, to work on my novel, and even to do some of paid work for the library. I discovered I have very limited access to the internet, as well as very little time to do any of my planned activities. But that’s okay. I’m here for Dad, and happy to be able to give love and care to the good man who raised me.

There’s been seven trips to the doctor. Crazy enough, we’ve been running between his offices in Renton and Tacoma, and the hospitals in both cities, to do all of this. There’s been three trips to the pharmacist. Dad’s taking so many pills and eye drops that I had to make a chart to remember when to dispense it all. Whatever vision Dad gets back is largely dependent on him being able to keep his head down between his legs for the next three weeks and, if possible, to sleep on his stomach. That wouldn’t be easy for anyone, much less an 85 year old man. My sister has arranged for FMLA, or to take a three-week unpaid leave of absence from her job to take care of dad, once I go home on Sunday.

Despite Dad’s troubles, I’ve had the pleasure of staying in Auburn for a much longer time than ever before, in the 40 years since I left the area. My husband and I do a fair amount of traveling, and we’ve seen a lot of places, but our journeys are always more like pit stops than anything else.

While here, these have been the joys of my present moment:

Jogging on the track at the junior high I attended. Dad now lives next door to the school where to which I was once bussed. In junior high, I didn’t believe I could run all the way around a track. I was pooped after a quarter of the way around. Now I laugh at that notion, and enjoy the way my ponytail flicks from side to side as I fly across the soft ground at my feet.

Walking by the Presbyterian Church where I had my first unrequited crush on the pastor’s son, back in the mid 60’s, before Hippies and Vietnam protests. We were living in the “Space Age,” a rather halcyon world of plastic and jello. The church is now used for ACAP, and it’s become a Korean Presbyterian church ... the congregation has changed, but at least it's still being used!

Going into the grocery store where my brother had his first job as a box boy. Then, it was a modern store. Now, it’s a throwback. It’s so un-modern that everything is still marked with sticky price labels. It’s owned and operated by Mexicans, and mostly minorities buy their food there. Cheapest store in town. An Asian man and I were standing in front of the pastry section, debating about what all of the odd looking pastries actually were.

Walking down the streets in a five-block radius from Dad’s apartment. There’s everything here, from seven different churches to run down apartments to streets with lovely homes and yards. Where I currently live, on a farm in Eastern Washington, there are only five houses in two miles. It’s been surreal for me to walk on a sidewalk next to a paved road and see lovely lawns and how people have landscaped their yards. For two days when the weather was good (it's notoriously rainy in Seattle, in case you've never heard), there were even a few people working in their yards. The vegetation on this side of the state is rain-forest-like. It’s simply beautiful. The flowering trees are all in bloom, as well as spring flowers.

Time spent talking with Dad. He lives alone, and so he’s been talking my ear off, besides wanting me to listen to the music he loves and watch some of his favorite movies. The movies have been okay, but his inner tempo is the Irish, Branson-performer Daniel O’Donnell. Mine is Michael Jackson, and so I have to admit that the music bored me out of my mind. I truly had a hard time sitting politely and listening to it.

Being able to watch the evening news. I generally don’t get home from work until 6 or 7, and by the time I’ve made dinner, my husband and I are sitting down to the last of Greta and into O’Reilly.

Visiting my mother. Her diabetic coma a few weeks ago changed her brain chemistry, besides that she’s taking only half her usual quantity of anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic meds (for Alzheimer’s). Her level of cognizance is now back to what it was two years ago: She hums. She smiles. She looks you in the eyes as if she's really there, seeing you. My dad is over the moon happy about that, and so am I. However, as we all know, this too shall pass.

Reading: While I haven’t read as much as I’d planned, I have listened to half of a book on CD, Graceling, which is quite good. I read a nonfiction book on spirituality by Eckhart Tolle which was wonderful. I read one dystopian novel and half of another. One was so slow that I stopped reading at page 100, alas. The other was great for tweens, but wouldn't fare well as a crossover book. I’m currently 100 pages into Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn. This one is good enough to finish. I'll blog about them all next week when I am home and have good access to the internet.

4/21/2010

Crossing the Floating Bridge, Seattle Washington: April 2010


Crossing the Floating Bridge
Seattle, Washington
May 2009

Hurray. Now only 30 minutes from my destination in the Fremont District!
Taken by me.


4/14/2010

On The Road Again: The Bridge at Vantage


I'm on the road again. This is the bridge at Vantage, which crosses the mighty Columbia River. I'm heading back over to the Seattle area. When I get to Vantage, I'm halfway.

My dad's having surgery, and so I arranged to take a few days off to care for him. It meant finding a substitute for six storytimes, three reference shifts, gimping out on a Family Fair, and three social activities. But I am on my way, armed with a 250 gigabite portable hard drive, so I can do some of my work while away. Hoping also to find a little time to read, I'm taking a box full of books. 

4/07/2010

Just the Guys


Easter, 2007. After the clan ate the farm-style feast, the guys went outside and shot off rockets. This was a few of them (son-in-law and two grandsons) walking back to the house for dessert.

The red building is an old, one-room schoolhouse on our property. My father-in-law went to grade school there, circa 1929-37.


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