Friday, April 14, 2023

Death of a legend

It is some nineteen years later and grandpa is dying. I don't write much about my darling husband. There isn't that much to write, thank god. He's a good man. A great husband set against my pathetic atempt at wife-ing. I have retired. He still goes to work and secretly likes it, I think. He'll retire soon. He's four years and one month younger than I am--a fact he be-labours to exhaustion. As Bob Lay Dying. I've known Bob since I was seventeen or nineteen. Not sure. He brought his family to the Applegate River Valley from Sacramento--though I think it was then by way of either Carson City, Nevada or New York. He was, I think, married to Cooky then, a woman who deserves, and may have somewhere in these volumes, her own post. I loved her. She was a best friend, as were her daughters. Both of us came from a long history of battering, so there was that. Let's not get bogged down. Cooky died two years ago, or four. The brain bleed I had in 2020 had its way with me, as will be clear eventually. I claim all sorts of lenience for anything loosely construed to be factual. So Bob. Kurt and I have been married these nineteen years. We live about 300 miles from Bob and his wife Patricia. They live up above Applegate Lake at JoBar, a small settlement on which Bob fancies himself King. There is no electricity, no potable water, though years of water wars with Luke, his neighbor and environmental pirate, have determined what was what. The water is Bob's. In the early years of our marriage I did the whole 'stand by your man' thing and always, without fail, traveled with Kurt and stayed up at Bob's. In those days a few things were different: I didn't have three dogs to care for, the water flowed mostly uninterrupted, the cabin we stayed in was beautiful and fairly clean. (could I have cleaned it? you might ask. But you shouldn't. If you've been reading, you know about me and housework.) As the years went by, so did the upkeep on the cabin, the number of dogs requiring supervision and the water, both quality and quantity. As well as my relationship with Bob's wife. Patricia and I were born on the same day. June 15th. Seven or so years apart. For her, a hippie-earthmother-sometimes-astrologer, this is profoundly significant. To me, it is not. If we were talking about, say, Anais Nin or something, I'd say it carried great weight, but we aren't. And she won't can't doesn't let it go. Anyhow, she annoys me. After the first six or eight years of accompanying my husband down to the Applegate Valley and doing the dutiful stay, I quit. It was so much easier to just stay home with the pups and watch HGTV. Now, however, leaving Kurt to manage his father's passing alone seems unkind--not a part of the vows. So I go. Now, however, we usually stay at his mother's which is infinitely more comfortable, physically anyway, but has its own long story. There have been a few trips so far since her new cancer diagnosis in February, maybe. The first couple times happened too quickly for me to get all the animals and myself together, but I went along this last time when it seemed like he might not make it. Bob--not Kurt. What I learned--and I do still learn--is that the family that is prone to drama, copes with drama. There is no plan. Now, I am retired from nearly fifty (count 'em) years of work among the dying, as you've clearly seen if you've read these pages. I understand the process from a dispassionate point of view--the cheap seats--if you will. I know what is happening, what needs to be done, by whom, and mostly, when and how. During the first two months of the back and forth that is characteristic of early diagnostic flailing, Bob and Patricia stayed with Kurt's mother a couple days at a time between appointments. At first it was cardiology, a stint, a pig-valve. Wrong. During the stay with Kurt's very tidy mother, very very tidy, it became clear that Bob wasn't the only one with issues. Patricia was--and is--having problems with urinary incontinence. She is peeing all over Ramona's house. The doc needs to hear him say he wants to die in order to initiate hospice. Patricia keeps speaking for him and over him. (nothing new) Finally, he gets it out. "I want to die. Can you speed it up?" The hospice nurse, upon entering the room, says, "I can see from all the people in the room that you are loved." Bob growls, "I'm a bad boy." As Kurt would say, "A legend in his own mind." Patricia is concerned that Bob isn't eating. Truth is, he has lost the ability to swallow, a normal stage of dying. The doctor asks, "Are you on a hunger strike?" to which Bob replies, "Would it work?" Laughter in the background. He wants out so bad it hangs like a curtain between all the rest of us, all except Patricia, who, it seems, just wants to fight. With us. I try to understand her, the loss, the change in her life and status, but jeesus. She is cruel to try to keep him alive to sustain her material needs. We left Wednesday morning for home. Hospice is in place. We've done what we came to do. Hospice will handle it from here on out--transport to the end. It is now Thursday and David and Megan have agreed to have grandpa die in their home. In their living room. With all the kids and all the dogs, and there is so much more to this. Such as Patricia would not consent to pay for a caregiver and quite literally will not participate, will not touch her husband. Will. Not. Care. I understand her lack of professional trainning, but its not like that. He has a catheter, nothing in, nothing out. Aarrgghh. But hospice is finally finally finally in place, and from my point of view, as dysfunctional as this family is, things are finally beginning to go fairly well. Now, once all of the superfluous (i.e. life preserving) treatments have been withhdrawn (insulin, steroids, anything non-comfort related) his poor little body is more than ready to check out. The nursing staff at the hospital are concerned that he won't even survive the transport to David's. Thank the good lord for David and Megan. What open-hearted souls. In the recent past, Bob wanted to use the Death With Dignity act, the easy-peasy-get-out-of-jail-free-pill, but he's only got about a week to live. Maybe. And it takes a good couple of months to make that complex process happen. I'm not against it. Not at all. Its just too late. To make DWD happen he must: have the signature of two physicians, write a little paragraph about why he desires this outcome, sign his name and be able to self-administer the medication. At this point he is no longer able to swallow, couldn't write a paragraph if his--excuse the obvious--life depended on it, and the DWD spokesperson told Patricia that he'd have to eat a little something every day to retain his ability to swallow. That ship has sailed. He's not eating. So, what does Patricia concentrate on? Feeding him. DWD. The one thing he cannot have. She wants the fight. She does not see that if she would only get out of the way, DWD is happening right now. Bring on the morphine. Bob is finally okay but she cannot will not does not recognize that fact. So, Bob passed at 6:10, Thursday evening, June 8. Kurt is heartbroken but so relieved that we got hospice going so his father could die peacefully. And he did. Hopefully, once Patricia gets to the other side, she'll be able to go home and rest.

Monday, July 12, 2021

how it is now

this has always been the place where I can tell the truth, no matter what form it takes. I have tried to write stories, to edit my books, if books they are. But I can't. Not anymore. I don't have memory enough to support a novel, to track the changes--and yes, I know there are programs that will do that for me. But I don't have the strength to learn a new program. Or, frankly, the desire. I've spent my life writing this and that, some of it good, some that I'm proud of, but I don't have the spine for publication or marketing. I'm tired. Done.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

biggest thing ever

I have no idea what happened to me. I really don't. It will take me days to write about it because I now have a tremor that effects any attept to write, or feed myself for that matter. So i awoke in, rather on, a hospital bed, assured "everything is alright, dear." For starters, I'm not all that dear, second, there were straps holding me in place. Certain I was being held capptive in a Dean Koontz novel, pain and all, I fought. Turns out i'd had brain surgery. ACTUAL BRAIN SURGERY. I spent most all of the fall in the hospital. Mostly sedated. Which is always fun for me. But thus the memory business. I'd been flat on my back, feeding tube in my nose and lost 50 pounds. Al I had to do was break my brain and all that pesky weight fell away.. I'm better, now. And fatter. I go to therapies that help me realize I am not able to count to ten. Now, I CAN count to ten. But I couldn't for a spell. It was discconcerting, to say the least with the largest word possible, to face a fact like that. I can't drive. I can barely feed myself if a spoon is involved, I can't button buttons and I have a hard time brushing my teeth. Typing? Fuck. And I have a scar to prove it. An 8" incision running front to back like a serious zipper holding my noggin together with a hole midway where they used a two-inch hole saw to insert the eggbeater to scramble me, or so my darling husband says. I am able to walk and talk just fine. Now. The good news is that it isn't Parkinson's. that is onee condition under which I would consider suicide. No joke. I got diagnosed yesterday. I will leave this sentence unedited if I can help it.. andd in other bad news, i have positional alopecia. because I laid iihn one pl lace for so long, my hair,d 's left of it, is fallling o urt. i'lll start editinng again, youj'rej welcome. Thank heavens for good insurance. This would probably have been a hundred grand or so. Nope. Update. 360K. Yep.

Friday, September 11, 2020

fire, no ice

So there we were, gathering our belongings, getting the trailer all set, food planned, prepared, staged for four lovely, beachy days around the campfire. We'd scored four days at Beverly Beach, our favorite campsite on the coast. Its alot like the redwoods, only the big trees aren't redwoods. Reservations are rare these days unless you go online in january, early in the morning, like one a.m. But if you're me, january just isn't the time for camping plans. Imma flybytheseatofmypants kinda gal. So, Kurt got on his phone, went to the site and told me, "I'm gonna get us some days at BBeach." "No, you're not," I replied, always the supportive spouse. When he was successful, I didn't believe it. Saw the reciept--still didn't believe it. But it was true. We had reservations. Four days at the beach. Couldn't wait. So there we were. Were. Driving toward the coast, trailer in tow, happily ready to camp, sickeningly entitled to take a moment at the end of summer, covid notwithstanding, and enjoy our lives, the sky thickened, turning orange in the distance. It worsened. And worsened. And by the time we made it to Depot Bay I asked, "Do you think we've made an error in judgement, going camping right now? How bad are these fires, anyway? Where are they?" By the time we arrived at the campsite, the ranger told us we could stay and camp, but most folks were electing to take the refund and go on home. One look around the camp and it was evident nobody was having any fun, trying to breath and all. I tried to pretend it was fog. I love fog. But even my imagination, accustomed to denial and outright pretense, couldn't hang. After a very brief discussion, we left. We called Joyce in Port Orford thinking maybe we could continue south and camp down there. "Oh, god no! Don't come here. The smoke is worse,and its ninety degrees. Its this bad on Vashon Island on the sound. There's nowhere to go." Joyce's tone verged on anxiety and she is not an anxious woman. That's when the phone calls started coming in: Kurt's mom was evacuating her place in Phoenix. Fifteen foot flames as she made it out with her 83 year old life. The whole town was on fire. Talent, the tiny town between Ashland and Phoenix where I used to live, was on fire. I tried to get ahold of my son. He lives in a tinderbox at the base of Table Rock. As we reviewed maps, reality began to set in. I got a text from the always erudite Annie Garwood. "Did you go camping? I only ask because Oregon is on fire." It appears that somebody (there's an investigation and a body and a burned out car) at the north end of Ashland started the whole thing and a swift east wind blew it up the I-5 corridor like it was Marilyn Monroe's white dress. And just like that, my past was in flames. I personalize it because it feels that way. I lived the first fifty years of my life in that valley, and while I remember little of the years between 13 and 33, I still know that landscape by heart. Social media alternately blames antifa or the proud boys, neither of which is true, but an interesting topic for a future post. By the time we got home from the shortest camping trip ever, our facebook feeds were lit up like Christmas trees with posts from friends and family displaced by fire. I finally reached Marky and happily, not only was he fine, but fully prepared to evacuate with his dog Riley. It always surprises me when he knows how to do things. "Who raised you," I asked. "How do you know this shit?" And running to conspiracy theories as he does, it is his contention that scumbag bums (homeless folks) are setting these fires intentionally. Oddly, there may be some truth to that. A few, four so far I think, arsonists have been arrested. The fires did spread oddly and disparately. I was reminded of the fires in '87, when I was living in Central Point. End of summer, every evening when I drove home from the AA meeting, the Rogue Valley was literally ringed by fires, the smoldering sky hanging heavy above us, ashes to ashes. Now it is the entire west coast. It feels so apocalyptic. This is how deserts are made. Years of little rain, coupled with lightning, encouraged by wind. It feels like the physical outworking of my emotional/political/biological world. I am fried. We are toast. Expecting locusts any moment, now.

Monday, August 17, 2020

long time comin'

Today begins the Democratic National Convention. Nah. I don't want to talk about that. What has happened in our lives since the last post in January 2020 is Covid. But I don't want to talk about that either. Home life. We let Sid go to heaven. He wasn't having fun anymore. Its hard to tell with a very old dog who thinks he's still a puppy, but the time was right, and he leaves Duffy and Mac in his considerable wake. They missed him at first -- at least Duffy did. Mac doesn't think all that much, it seems. And fuck pitbulls except Sid. We walk to a small park near our house each evening, let the dogs poop, wear Mac out, and this one evening I went by myself. Most of Yamhill lets their dogs be off-leash in the park, as do we, but I'd leashed up my dogs and was exiting the park when a large pitt appeared. "That fucker came out of nowhere," to quote some movie. His owner, a woman, said something like "she's okay" so I kept walking and the dog looked at Duffy, cocked its head and charged. No time passed. I screamed, "NO!" and I like to believe that is why she stopped attacking for a moment as I yanked Duffy from the solidly clamped jaws of death. With Duffy's fluffiness, I didn't see any wounds until we got home. Truth be told, I was pretty traumatized--not thinking, just acting. Turns out he was pretty tore up. Six wounds, two requiring stitches. $120.00 later I'd like to find that chick. Sid was never like that. The only fight he ever got in was with an urban raccoon and he lost that one decisively. My garden is huge, and with Kurt working from home since March, it gets enough water to produce gallons of pickles, jam, tomato sauce, pesto and zuchinni. Okay. Now I'm ready to talk about the intersection of health, religion and politics. I live in Yamhill, Oregon, which is nowhere. My neighbors, almost without exception, are republicans, but good country folk. They really are, but they think Covid is a hoax and are proud of not wearing masks and they think trump is doing his best against great and unfair odds. My own son is a racist and right wing-nut. This disturbs me in ways that make me regret decisions I made to pay attention to my own spiritual/political/educational development to the evident exclusion of his. I got sober. I wasn't paying too much attention as I clawed my way out of the soul-claiming abyss of alcoholism and drug addiction. I want, badly, to say "sue me," right here, but that would be insincere and you know me. Always sincere. Ha. But I fear my internal focus left my son on the outside of things, philosophically speaking, although, he, too, finally stopped drinking. I remember when I was two or three years sober, some 30-odd years ago. I came home from a meeting and there was my then-eleven year old son, watching a baseball game. Life is good, I thought. How completely well-adjusted we are, I thought. He says to me, "Mom, I know who I want for my higher power." I answered, "Really? Who." Evidently he'd been listening during meetings where this was emphasized. He said, "Jose Canseco." The pitcher for some the Oakland A's or some shit. Yeah. So. Wow. I'm off the rails. So now my son is nearly a QAnon follower, although I think even he draws the line at lizard people. I blame Donald Trump, but I shouldn't. We democrats lost the last election because of individual, wish list (pretty little foot stamping demands) politics. You can't talk me out of this so don't try. I am a fairly conservative, which is to say old, democrat. I believe neo-liberalism has pretty much destroyed America, but am not in any hurry to succumb to the necessary reparations to get us where we need to be. And where is that? I thought you'd never ask. The notion that the market magically knows what is right and good and true, that given untrammelled opportunity and the demolition of government siderails, seatbelts and all that is holy, specially selected white men will make good decisions that benefit the many, has proven patently false. Trump and his bastard clan have driven the wheels off this idea and if you can appreciate any single thing about this boil on the ass of humanity, its that he's out in the open with it. All balls, no brains. But somebody's got brains. Believe that. Watchout. They have reanimated Frankenstein, dismantled America, and put nobody in charge because that, folks, is what Freedom looks like. Period. With our televised consent. So. Its all felt pretty far away in DC. I live in the country, Covid feels distant--though I take it seriously enough, I hope, to remain well, but now he's going too far. I'm a lifelong letter-writer and he's going after the Post Office. My Post Office. He's trying to privatize that sacred strong-hold of reliable communication, the US Mail. I'm sure there are worse things like Black Lives Matter, but this is on my ground. I'm a writer. Leave letters alone. I'm not getting into the BLM thing except to say the little shitheads in Portland who brought enough attention to our little blue state that trump sent the stormtroopers to town should be in jail. Not the black folks. Not the protesters. The anarchists. Blacks can and should do their thing. I don't pretend to know what the solution is to that longstanding problem. They will, however, have to pay the consequences for their actions. That's how it works and I think they know that. Its pretty messy right now, perhaps necessarily so, but people will die needless deaths. Again. Still, not my fight except as an ally, and that term morphs daily. Its hard to get it right. I'm a distant supporter out here in the sticks. The white kids who just want to blow shit up, who think they are promoting a progressive agenda, are not helping. I used to have sign over my desk. It said, "If things don't get better around here I'm going to have to ask you to stop helping me." I need it now. I know Biden/Harris is an imperfect ticket. I am OVER so-called Progressives (butt-hurt Bernie fans) stamping their little feet, again, because they didn't get their way, again. I think it will be a solid decade before a truly progressive agenda replaces neo-liberalism. and frankly, I don't know that progressives have the patience to wait for it. They can't seem to decide what's most important, who gets to go first, who's turn it is, why they have to wait a fucking minute for us old folks to die off so they can take the wheel now that there are no remaining tires on the vehicle. By that time, they'll be old, too, invested in a system that used to work, and just trying to protect thier social security like I am. Jaysus. Oh, yes. And Jesus. Really. Poor Jesus. I've always said that Christian's are a poor representation of Christ. They rally behind Dear Leader, the emperor with no clothes, as though the Holy Bible said, "Deify the chosen one, right or wrong, follow him off a cliff," rather than "Obey the law of the land." And off the cliff they go. Help them, baby Jesus. They know exactly what they do. Predictions: The election will happen on time. Joe Biden will win handily. dear leader will pitch a fit but will leave eventually and he will be tried and convicted of treason. His little alt right army of proud boys will start a brief civil war in which a few will die, and democrats will try, but fail, to make everything perfect, and color-coordinated, with one of each (red and yellow black and white they are precious in his sight) and three or four edgy LGBYQRSTUVWXYZ with blue hair and politically-oh-so-correct language that will be passe the moment it is uttered. ad nauseum. Gawd.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

sleep deprivaion and raccoons

So having three dogs is at least one too many. Sid is old, Duffy diabetic and Mac -- not the sharpest dog in the drawer. Sid, at 15 and a half is still able to make it through the night without having to go out to pee. Duffy, being diabetic, is too thirsty, thus, has to pee frequently and a lot. Mac just likes to be involved in any outing, asleep or awake. He has the best ears, so knows of any movements outside our walls and wakes everyone else up in case they don't know... I haven't slept through the night since I got Mac. Or since entering menopause which has been artificially extended by the anti-estrogen cancer medication I am required to take that is better than being dead but that's about it. I still get hot flashes and can't sleep. I blame the dogs but it is easily half the medication that is at fault. So there I am, sleeping like a baby. Its three o'clock and Mac begins to whine, or Duffy gives his telltale bark, something he doesn't do unless he's serious. Like a robot, as Kurt describes me, I hop out of bed and wobble to the back door, tripping over dog toys and man-clothes on the way. Kurt takes off his clothes on the way to bed like a sex scene in a bad movie. Anyhow, I make it to the door in one piece. Now, I've been letting these dogs out at night without incident for years. This time is different. This time, Mac and Duffy run straight to the corner of the yard, barking as though in hot pursuit of something that needs to be killed. And they won't come back. They won't come back even when I say, "treats!" in the sweetest voice ever. I worry a little bit about my neighbor's sleep, but to tell the truth, not all that much. Dogs bark. Deal. But tonight they keep up the cacophony for long enough that even I am embarrassed. So, I slip on my outdoor clogs, the ones with the tiniest bit of dogshit embedded in the tread, and pick my way through the yard, in the dark, to grab them by the collar and drag them back in the house. As I make it to the far side of the yard where they are pitching such a fit, under the walnut tree, I happen to look up because they are. There, in the crotch of the tree, is an enormous raccoon. Fat and mean. Staring down at me. Never ever turn your back on a raccoon. I stepped backward, gingerly, reaching to grab Duffy by the collar. Mac had taken the hint and ran to the house. Duffy wasn't coming easily. He doesn't understand the danger he is in. He doesn't know that a raccoon will tear his nose off his face and let him bleed out. I know this. I tried to locate and grab my disobedient dog without breaking eye contact with the raccoon. My neighbors are nice people and I don't think they've heard language like that from me before. I finally got hold of Duffy and drug him inside, throwing him the last few feet through the door. Which was open. I'm not that mean. Two nights later, when I began to let the dogs out, four raccoons fled up the tree. Four. I decided to leash them and take them to the opposite side of the yard to pee. They weren't happy about this, but I'm sure you understand by now that their happiness is not my concern. My concern is sleep. I am trying to figure out what is bringing them into our yard. It is a mystery, one I am intent on solving.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

retirement week four I think

Well, if I'm losing track of time I guess retirement is working.