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Posts tagged ‘father’

On the Pitching Deck

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

Getting from one chair to another. Five steps. Pushing down on the arms of the chair, engaging his shaking thighs, standing in a crumple, and inching one foot forward, then the other, grasping a table edge, a doorknob, the stepping stones of the room. He knows every bump and outcropping of furniture and makes his way like an old mariner on a pitching deck. Read more

Bringing Dad Home

From writings about helping my father as he completes his life.

We arrive home on a perfect autumn day. Dad is excited, wants to see everything, all the rooms, touch the furniture. We walk out back. Two lofty maple trees and languid drapes of honeysuckle and jasmine frame a scrolling hill. We stop to gaze at the view he has always loved. A coywolf arrives between the banks of green on the lower hill. He looks at us. Dad catches his breath, alert and delighted, and gently points. We stand very still watching the coywolf who stands very still watching us. A good omen. Read more

With Dad in the ER

He is on the hospital bed. The nurses have dimmed the lights. It must be night…We arrived hours ago. He was stashed in a booth. The ER is crowded on this summer Monday. A nurse comes with questions. Then leaves. Then a doctor. He leaves. Time passes…

My brother, David, stands and I sit. We listen to Dad, almost accustomed to his aphasic communication. Read more


My father sat on the edge of the bed as I hung a framed Maxfield Parrish print of ‘Daybreak’ on the wall at the foot of the bed. He was happy gazing at this dreamy scene of two nymphs in a temple with gilded mountains in the distance. Then I handed him a smooth pale gray and salmon stone I’d brought from the beach. He liked that too.

He is at a dreary, institutional nursing facility for the time being, confined to a locked wing so he won’t stress himself. (For previous post about my father’s aphasia: Five Things.) We have a way of talking now. Read more

Five Things

The hardest thing for me about this past week is starting a new life. I’ve gotten reasonably good at this in my own sphere—projects, locations, content, people—but returning to visit my parents in my childhood home has been, for better or worse, changeless. Today I sat with my father at Spaulding Rehab Hospital observing his speech therapy. He relearns the language of counting to 5. How to touch five blue wooden blocks and count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. How to look at the numeral ‘5’ and say five. Sometimes the therapist puts two blue blocks on one side and five blue blocks on the other and holds up a piece of paper with the numeral ‘5’ and says Which one is five? Read more

Letters: Letter to Mom & Dad

Dear Mom and Dad (though I know it’s you, Dad, who wrote me),

I didn’t realize, until I got your letter, which I fetched from my PO box yesterday morning, how wonderful it would be to get a letter, a real physical piece of paper with all the inconvenience of pushing a pencil across its face dragging thoughts and then posting it, in my hand. It was much closer to sitting in the the living room with you chatting over morning tea and coffee, something I love so much. Though I’ve been anticipating its arrival from our phone conversations, a letter in the abstract, that is, news of a letter coming, is nothing to a letter arriving, a letter in the hand being worth more, far more, than two, or ten, in the promise. I can read it again and again…

I carted it around as I did errands in Las Vegas. I brought it up to the mesa, to the cabin and still I saved it until late in the evening when the bustle of the day (why is a day still a bustle when, because of electric light, we could bustle around the clock, but still the the day feels more bustle-y), when the bustle of the day subsided and I could savor it by candlelight. Dad, you have always been and continue to be, such a wonderful writer! I read your letter with such pleasure. I can’t remember the last time we corresponded. Ten years ago? Twenty? Too long.

Yesterday the sky was pure drama—sweeping clouds, shafts of light, long grayish wisps of rain striping to the ground or hanging tantalizingly above like jellyfish tentacles not quite touching down. After dark, lightening on the eastern horizon, in a band of clouds above the land and beneath the star canopy, danced in silence until midnight. As an artist, I feel amused and defeated by such effortless natural opulence. Today we—the animals and I—are enveloped in a muted haze, slightly moist and cool.  A tiny bushtit flits and sings. The scratch of my pen sounds loud, a sharp contrast to the past ten days of continuous wind howl.

This afternoon I will work on a temporary water collection set-up—a tarp suspended to funnel water into the 60 gallon barrel with a screened manhole cover top I purchased yesterday. I want to empty the water out of the drum that Don left here since there is no way to peer into that container to see the state of that water. (It smells not quite right…What might be decomposing in there?) There isn’t much left in that storage anyway. I can put its contents into a covered bucket to wash up after dirty projects, then use the drum to transport water in the pick-up from the neighbor’s well and gravity-feed it by hose into the newly-purchased barrel. All this is a kind of puzzle to solve. Water is so heavy! With a 60 gallon water cache life will seem more secure and certainly cleaner.

Thank you again for the wonderful letter.