“Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom,
Pema teaches us that only one approach to suffering is of lasting benefit,
moving toward painful situations with friendliness and curiosity,
relaxing into the essential groundlessness of our entire situation.
There, in the midst of chaos, we can discover the truth and love that are indestructible.”
It was a daunting task that faced my Sweetie this morning. Gently trying wake the sleeping bear (ME) at 6am. He's an early riser, an up an at 'em kind of guy who greets the dawn with a giant mug of coffee touched off with a shot of French Vanilla creamer. Since we've been in this small living space he's been respectful of my sleeping in tendencies. It's the damned coffee pot that does me no favors. Drip. Drip. Drip. Hisssss. Drip. Drip. Drip. There is a reason the Chinese use dripping water as a method of torture. Or at least an alarm clock. Could be one and the same.
Eventually, I couldn't put it off any longer. I faced the morning with the kind of matter of fact dread I used to feel on the first day of a new school year. Today was the first time I was going back to Dad's house (but with all my stuff still there so it is also kind of my house) to spend the day caring for him. Sweetie is concerned that this is not going to be a good thing for me. His argument(s) is a good one, though I am unable to appease him. I am sure it is the right thing to do - continuing to serve my father. I promised my mother on her death bed that I would. I can't just walk away.
I was at the house 3 hours before Dad started to stir. In that time I did most of the morning chores then sat on the couch trying to entice my boy cat out of hiding with little luck. He'd come sneaking around a corner, see me then turn and run the other way. With all the commotion of the last week, we haven't had our normal amount of one-on-one love time. Now every time he comes near I have to grab him and shoot some vile smelling grilled chicken flavored medicine down his throat. He knows it's going to happen so he gives me a wide berth. It makes me very sad.
When Dad got up he called for a bath sitter - someone to wait outside the bathroom door to listen for a loud crash which would indicate that he'd fallen. It has been my custom to pull up one of my grandmother's afghans so Boy Cat will feel safe enough to come visit. He was just getting close when Laci came running into the room, collar tags jingling, and plopped herself on my chest. Hello Laci! Goodbye Boy Cat.
I know how I've felt for days. I've avoided looking in the mirror to see how bad it appears to others. I hope it is not as bad as my dad looked this morning. Showering took away any strength he may have started with. His breathing was heavy, not labored exactly, but not easy either. Even sitting down it took about 5 minutes to figure how to get one leg into his trousers. When he arrived at the breakfast table he sat down, rested his head in his hand ready, I think, to go back to bed.
After eating a little and drinking a cup of coffee he laid down in his recliner to rest. He didn't budge except to ask a few questions. HE decided he needed a new phone and some apples. An interesting combination! We also stopped at the medical supply store to try out an array of fancy seated walkers. Like Goldilocks's, he tried one but it was too big. Another had no breaks, you just pushed down on the handle to stop it. Too difficult to maneuver. The third one was just right ... or sort of. It took awhile to make up his mind. I think once he sat down he just didn't feel strong enough to get back up and moving. We were barely home before he was back in his recliner, eyes closed, with his breathing finally settling down into a normal rhythm.
Other than that Mrs. Lincoln ....
It was easy for me to step right back into caregiving mode. For sure I didn't like seeing him look and act so tired. On the other hand he wasn't lambasting me with accusations about Sweetie or trying to talk me into changing my mind. It wasn't painful being back in the house, not particularly comfortable either. Guess that's how it's going to be for awhile. It felt strange leaving after 12 hours. He sat at the table with his nighttime care person. My heart clutched a little when I heard him say, "now that you're here I'll feel better." I'm glad he's comfortable with this lady with a big heart.
Now the day is almost over. I need to crawl into bed and get some sleep because I know that coffee pot serenade will begin playing way before I'm ready to hear it. Sweetie's hip is causing him great distress. It could be a long night!