Monday, March 8, 2010

The more things change, the more they stay the same

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.”

When Things Fall Apart (Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Pema Chodron

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!

Merry ME


terri st. cloud said...

we all have to do what we feel is right. always. no matter what anyone else tells us.

that's so the way it works.and i'm
behind you 100 percent in that.

what i sometimes forget, and thought maybe i'd remind you in case you forgot....we don't have to get abused while we do it.

we can do what's right for us and still claim our own personal rights. that's the only way it truly is 'right', ya know?

when i read the comment -
'now that you're here i'll feel better' it felt abusive.

maybe it's not. but sit with it.
because when we do what's helps if it's all the way right.

and all the way right is giving respect and getting respect.

sometimes it's way too easy to give it, and way too hard to ask for it.

you deserve many good things.
respect is a no brainer.

if i misread it, i apologize. i figured it was better for me to look like an idiot here and misread the whole thing, than to not remind you of how valuable you are.

i think you can have both.
value for your dad. value for yourself.

i love you....

Sorrow said...

Somethings just aren't easy, and I wish I knew why. I have been sitting here reading and catching up on the journey you are going thru. Your sweetie sounds like a wonderful man. I shall dash over and check out his blog.
but MERRY, be gentle with yourself. You have to many bruised spots to be letting a lot of things poke at you right now.
sending you love and light...

Pamela Jones said...

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...
one of my favorite lines. How confusing to return to the scene of the crime. How generous and loving of you to go and just "do what you do" out of love that is returned only conditionally.
"Now that you're here I'll feel better..." Maybe that's as close as you'll get to "I appreciate all that you do." Just beware of the flip side of "when you're NOT here, I'm not so good." That is sad and true and not your choice. All I could think as I imagined your Dad's voice saying those words is, "Sad for you that you choose to be alone." Sad that his fear of changing his views places him in such a spot.
You are in such a wonderful position to love without strings attached -- just remember that you deserve that love, too, and save a little for yourself!

AkasaWolfSong said...

Just holding you close in a cyber hug Merry...I think you need one and I love giving them.

You're being authentic and being honorable with your word is very inspiring to me...but like the other Sisters here have expressed...make sure you are gentle and kind with yourself too.
We are not doormats...we are Divine and of the Divine.

I love you and I don't even know you as you exude Love to me! The True essence of Love.

Anonymous said...

This is a 'compromise at best' is an often used phrase. This one is difficult and doesn't seem to be welcomed by any of you. I have thought and thought and thought about what else you can do - Dad has made his choice. I hope it will become easier, perhaps not easy, but easier as the days go by. You are strong, I believe in you and and know that you can make this work and that you will be stronger in the end. A daunting task, but you can do it. Mother would be proud. I hope that in the end that there is more than compromise, but understanding and resolution. Let's hope...
Know that I love you. lg