Thursday, December 31, 2015

"When Death Comes"

When Death Comes
Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dad's Final Hours from Afar

Yes, okay, it was true, father was 92 and he'd had a roll-over accident during a 4 wheeler ride in the desert with my eldest brother. Anyone else at that age and you'd expect consequences. Long drawn out painful consequences, but Dad was going to live forever. I was confident of this truth.

Hearing details from a distance is much different than being at someone's side. Deep down I knew this, but refused to acknowledge it. My brother sent daily emails--all in the positive, humorous style of the entire family. "Dad has 4 broken ribs and a small puncture in one lung", but here's a photo of him smiling, relaxing on his couch with happy hour lifted to the camera holder.

The undercurrent of the story was that the pain was great and the first hospital doctor insisted on tampering with his meds. Meds that had only recently been brought into a delicate balance to keep the fluid in his lungs at bay. Several days later, brother messaged us that Dad woke up in the morning struggling to breathe. He drove him to a different hospital this time. One that had been either recommended or where Dad had had a previous positive experience.

The first daily message and photo showed Dad hooked up to all possible and necessary machines to keep his oxygen levels up and to drain the fluid from his lungs. Soon the photos showed him walking carefully with assistance down the hallway. My eldest sister had joined brother by this time.

Then December 1 arrived and after work I sat in Karyn's hairstylist chair, keeping up a lively, heartfelt banter about our parents' health. I could feel the constant vibrations of what had to be a text discussion amongst my family members. The knowing/grown-up part of my brain that I'd been trying to tamp down was concerned, but I decided it could wait. Cell phones shouldn't be something we have to always pick-up. Real people should be the priority. Besides, what could I do at that moment that I couldn't do later?

Once I climbed into my car for the drive home, I pulled out my phone before turning the ignition key. My neatly piled heap of denial came tumbling down, as I read my eldest sister's words: Dad was ready and wanted to go. I raged and howled and weeped to no one, as I navigated the car through rush hour traffic. I blamed the desert. I blamed the doctor at the first hospital. I wished I could immediately materialize at his bedside.

Looking back at that moment, what I remember most was how Karyn had delivered a statement that seemingly foreshadowed the whole event, "When our parents are that age, they can handle one or two big medical events, but no more than that. Too much and it's more than their bodies can deal with." And (at that moment) I raged at Karyn the hairstylist.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nail Wraps/Stickers

Update: Tried another brand-- Incoco. Similar to Sally Hansen, in that they're actual nail polish and must be used once opened, but during application they gave the impression of being more durable and fresh. I'll let you know.

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon the whole nail wrap thing. Most likely due to a search on Amazon or Google (with results that veer the searcher in a completely different direction than intended).

It's what we refer to as "progress" these days. Right?  ;-)

My first purchase was a set of nail wraps from Sally Hansen. They're durable, bright and easy to apply, but be aware--once you open the package the nail wraps must be used. Sally Hansen's product is (they say) nail polish rather than being closer to a sticker.

The second purchase was from Tattify. It's easy to get distracted while searching through Tattify's products. Fantasies of applying a temporary tattoo before attending a holiday gathering to shock family members were short lived (for me). Their nail wraps offer fewer directions, but a quick internet search will give you the confidence you need.

My overall impressions after several days of wearing both brands, is that they're fun, easy to apply and surprisingly--they protect your nails.
If you don't mind paying twice as much, want to attend a Tupperware-like party or want to design your own, you might want to check out what Jamberry has to offer.

Nail wraps:  Highly recommended for a fun diversion, stocking stuffer or an anytime gift.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Goodbye Papa

Raises fist
Rails against the desert

Drinks morning coffee
Plans meal of chicken fried steak
And anticipates happy hour more than she should

Damn it all to hell
You lovable old man

I'll miss your calm relaxed presence
Those smiles and hugs and silly jokes

You left, yet your absence does not soak my pillow as I seek sleep and wait for your visit.

But your absence is redefining me
and my future
The definition of family

If mother was the home spun glue
That held us tightly together
You were the storyteller
who defined us

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Remembering Papa

It must have been during the "gas shortage" in 1973, when Dad decided to ride his motorcycle to work everyday. I can't remember where the flight suit came from. A relative with connections? It was the flight suit that ensured a warm ride in the cooler months. 

Around the same time, a manual treadmill appeared in Chuck & Jim's old bedroom in the basement. Dad would ride home for lunch and walk on the treadmill until it was time to eat. So true to his personality--setting goals, improving a personal situation. 

Which reminds me of the time he hypnotized a wart off his nose. I'll save that for another time.