It's almost 11:30 on a Sat. morning. The house is eerily quiet - peaceful. The dog has refused to go outside or eat breakfast because Dad is still asleep.
I know I should go back and check on him. I should at least stand at the door and see if the covers are moving up and down with his breathing. But right now, I'm kind of reveling in the solitude. If he's asleep he can't say anything mean to me and if he's dead ... well, God forgive me, it won't matter if I let him lie there for a few more minutes while I prepare myself for what comes next.
I remember one day from years ago, when my mom was still alive. I slept upstairs and kept my own schedule - sort of. Usually Dad got up before, or with Mom. I know he thought he was protecting her (from what?), doing right by her, but I also know she enjoyed the quiet morning time to herself. She couldn't explain this to him, so she learned to live with it - suffered in her silence like a pro. But this one morning, she'd gotten up earlier than anyone else. She'd made the coffee, and like me, reveled in the quiet. By the time I appeared, however, she was getting nervous. I'm sure she'd been back to check on Dad several times. The fact that he was sleeping so late was unusual; the "what if" kind of scary.
"I think he's gone," she managed to say to me like the old days when aphasia hadn't stolen her ability to shape sentences. We both gulped and walked down the hall, we walked right up to the side of his bed and he didn't move. Yet ever so slightly his rythmic breathing became noticeable under the sheet. He was deep in sleep. That blessed sleep that caregivers and mothers dream about but seldom get.
So, this morning, instead of going back to check on him, I sat in the quiet moment and treated myseslf to a Blog Read-athon. I checked my favorites to see what people were saying. Terri St. Cloud, as always, told a story of love that made my heart want to sing. Terri posted a journal entry about me yesterday. How cool is that! That lady has a way of reaching out to people that goes beyond the normal meaning of friend. She oozes love.
Then I caught up on a few days worth of posts at Carol O'Dell's site. What Terri is to love Carol is to writing and caregiving. She knows what to say and how to say it. She touches other people by simply telling her story, then listening while you tell yours. She's the living example of "walking in another's moccasins." When it comes to caring for an aging/ill/hard-to-deal-with parent, she's been there. Lived it. Savored it. Learned from it. Shared it. Used it to propel her forward, rather than letting it hold her back. Let's face it, to me, she's the queen of inspiration.
In her post "Parents Can Do the Funniest Things - The Lighter side of Caregiving" (Sept. 17), Carol writes that it is helpful to caregivers to try to find the "funny" in each day. Even though I read her post with interest, and believe what she says is true, the tired, crabby, what's-funny-about-living-with-a-grumpy-old-man side of my otherwise cheery personality can't help but yell from the rooftop (if I were on the rooftop) "Yeh, but".
"Yeh, buts" are a way of totally denying everything a person just said. Saying, "yeh, but" at the end of well thought out and presented arguments or advice is the equivalent to singing "la la la" in your head while a person is talking about insurance or financial planning. It basically says thanks but no thanks for those words of wisdom.
As I read what Carol had to say about the lighter side of caregiving, I found myself thinking, yeh but ...
- what's funny about the man who never smiles?
- what's funny about the man who tells you every single night when he's through treating the dog that he's going back to the bedroom. (Well duh, where else would he go. Go already.) Is that funny or anal retentive?
- what's funny about the man who says "where'd you hear that crap?" when I've just given my best positive attitude speech?
- what's funny about pee-soaked underpants all over the bathroom floor?
I could go on and on, but guess what .... I hear myself saying, "yeh but" to my own "yeh but."
You see I know, in my knowing place, that Carol is right. If I open my eyes to the glories of each day, I'll find funny, or beauty, or peace. Last night, after Dad said something to me that totally hit me the wrong way, I got up from the table and took a shower. (I wonder how many showers I would take in a day, if every time he pissed me off, I stripped off my clothes and stood under a barrage of hot water?) As the water washed away my anger and frustration I started singing a made up song. As I sang, my mood began to swing back the other way. I think I may have discovered a whole new kind of therapy. For me, it's not new, but for others, may I suggest you give it a try!
I know what you're going to say ... yeh but!
What about the water bill? Who's going to wash all the wet towels? What about my psoriasis?
On that note, I've got to get moving because I hear movement in the back of the house. I need to close the computer and fix brunch for Dad and the dog. Now that's funny - brunch for the dog! Ha! ha!ha! Do you think she'd like a mimosa? Ha!ha!
I may not be laughing, but at least I'm smilin'
Carol O'Dell: http://home.comcast.net/~cdodell/
Terri St. Cloud: http://www.bonesigharts.blogspot.com/