Saturday, July 21, 2007

When the porch is closed

Fridays are my out-over-night days - sometimes at least. But not always. So Friday mornings are pretty busy getting ready to leave plus the normal stuff.

Usually I try to have Friday lunch with a friend so I also have to leave time for getting ready - not that it requires much time mind you. Getting in the shower is a certain trigger to make someone visit in person or by phone. It always amazes me that I can sit here for many uninterrupted hours and yet my 10 minute shower seems to occur coincidentally with a dozen interruptions.

Often on Fridays I do not open the doors from the house to the porch.

Dad is usually coming down for breakfast now. He doesn't always. I don't know why. There is no pattern. But when he does come down then usually we will go to the porch afterwards. Not always though. Sometimes he wants to go right back up to his bed.

I try to help him on the stairs. But he doesn't like me doing it. He fights for his independence in every task and gives nothing up easily. His struggles are in a way quite heroic I think. Mom was the opposite. When the insurmountable occurred she resigned. Both are equally difficult for me as a caregiver and a child and a friend and a companion and all the other roles I lead. And yet I have no idea where the boundary lies between struggle and resignation. I now know that resignation is as heroic as struggle.

My own conflict is between struggle and resignation. Mom was able to die here in her home. That's what dad wants. I am going to try but my naive optimism has been tempered by pessimistic reality.

Already, I am breaking another promise I had hoped to keep. I will have managed to keep it 7 years I think by the time it actually happens. But the die is cast and my decision is right and there is no going back.

Except on Fridays I open the porch so Dad and I can sit there together. Even on days when he goes back to bed I want the porch open just in case he wants to enjoy it. He likes sitting on the porch and listening to music on the old Sony CD player and watching the traffic. He takes little naps but then he will count cars or read signs on trucks or remark about especially big ones "That's a big one!"

It seems strange he can still count and notice size and shapes and things and even read some.

The porch has been such an important place for me even from my youth when the house was built. Always it has been the place for family gatherings. It is surrounded on 3 sides by windows almost floor to ceiling. It is filled with light. As I sit here rocking in the old, springy lawn chair I notice how I am surrounded by relics from my past. (Besides Dad that is!! funny.) It is comforting out here. The A/C is diminished just enough to make it cozy. It feels safe and yet I can see the outside world, too. When we first met my wife and I snuggled in the old chaise lounge across from me. And I look at it and remember that with such delight and pleasure. I miss that time with her.

But even before that it used to be me and mom and dad sitting on the porch. We sat out here after breakfast together for a while and then I would leave them alone and try to work. We would meet again at 9:30 for our coffee break. Then mom wanted a nap and she and dad would go upstairs.

As I think about that I notice that we've moved down one chair now. Dad is in mom's place and I in his.

There is coming a time when dad will not join me here on the porch. I have thought about what I will do then. I don't know really. I think it will be too lonely and sad for me to sit here without him.

I think that's when I will close the porch.

1 comment:

nancy said...

just wanted to let you know i read your entire blog and really enjoyed your posts. keep on writing as i look forward to reading your thoughts and insights.