Friday, September 21, 2007


It is strange because I've had no unruly words frantically running around in my mind trying to escape the fences I've built. Usually they are there but for a while they've been gone. And then suddenly they are back and too numerous and energetic to hold. They are all milling about and they remind me of cattle.

Was it the doctor visit that prodded them? Or, that my brother and son were here with me then? Or, perhaps it was Mrs. Flinty's two visits? Or, my daughter's phone call? Or, the friends' text messages? Or, the emails I've read just now? Or, the comments left on my blog from friends I know only by the word? Or, is it The Word? Or, the prayers from untold numbers?

I do not know really but the words are there and they all want out in a jumble and flood of thoughts and ideas and schemes and emotions. And I cannot hold them in.

I am old enough and ornery enough to admit that facing the impending death of my dad is causing me emotional turmoil.

It's certainly not death itself that causes me anguish because I've met that one many times already. He is an ever present foe regardless how he hides himself. And we are willing collaborators to his impersonations. We even help construct the thin facade of civilized veneer that hides his hideous and evil presence. We think we can insulate ourselves from him but we only climb the mount of self-deception. Yet as awful as he is I do not fear him for myself or for those I love.

There is that sense of defeat, that idea of losing, that still I find so distasteful. It is upsetting. I cannot help it even though my mind knows better. Why should there be that conflict between thoughts and feelings in the first place?

I suppose Dad feels this even more acutely. Dad has not given up. He fights on still. It is in sleep that he is trying to repair whatever it is that happened. The outcome is uncertain still I suppose.

I think he should quit fighting. It is not such a bad thing to die now without going all the way to the finish line and there be met with the kiss from Alzheimer's death. But he has not seen the videos nor has he read the stories. And he has never quit anything. Even now he will not listen to me. I marvel at his perseverance while crying for his stubbornness.

Perhaps it his struggle that contributes to my anguish.

The doctor did much to release the words. He lost his father last year. He says "if he were my father I would ... " and for some reason I find it comforting to hear him say that. He showed me the test he gave dad back in 2001. It was dated October 31. I remember that day and that test clearly. He turns over the paper and there are the little geometric shapes that dad drew. Next to them on the right is his beautiful signature in his own hand. Oh God my heart leaps when I see that signature because I have not seen it in so long! He remarks on it and my son and brother talk about Dad's handwriting and how distinctive and legible and beautiful it was. I nearly cannot stand to see it.

But the next line contains the same objects where he tried to draw them connected and could not. I remember how angry he became and how he threw the pen on the floor. The rest of the test is there. He knew he was at home but he did not know the city nor the state. He did not know the date. He guessed the year and he guessed it wrong. He did not know why the doctor was there. But he knew all of us by name.

I sit there reliving that experience. Mom was on the hospital bed next to where dad was sitting with the doctor. She would be dead in six days but we did not know that then. He would be holding her hand when whatever happened to her. Dad knew her birthday then and sometimes just blurted it out to my astonishment. And he told and retold the story of their meeting and his falling in love. I did not understand then and it mildly irritated me to hear it again and again. But now I understand it was his tactic to preserve the memories. Those must have been the ones most dear to him and he must have felt them slipping away.

Earlier when my aide arrived I left. I had no place to go. I had a contract to read so I took it with me. I wanted to sit in the sun. I wanted to feel the heat on my face. I needed to be outside. I went to our Starbucks and got a dark roast coffee and went out on the patio. There was no one else out there. It was high 80's and there was a little wind. I picked a table in the corner and took the chair against the rail I felt so alone.

The sun felt so good to me. And the wind and the smells and sounds. There were noises and some traffic. I tried to look at the red line but I could not make it really focus.

Then Mrs. Flinty came. I saw her drive up. She came and sat with me and we talked. I think I mostly talked and she mostly listened. She knew I needed a friend just then. So perhaps it was her visit that released all these words.

Today the hospice sometime will tell me what is going to happen and give me a new schedule. Probably someone will come this afternoon I suspect. Doc said he wanted dad to be cleaned out. He said if it were him he would not want to die full of stool. I thought that was funny that he said it that way. He said he had a reputation with hospice about that and they had a few nicknames for him.

My daughter wants to come today and see her pop. My brother wants to bring his kids over. Sometime I want to leave and be with Mrs. Flinty. She was going to spend the night but I told her to go on home.

The house is sad. It has been sad a while. But I think it is sadder now and maybe it knows. There is something terrible about a house that has rooms that are no longer used. It's like it is dying, too, right along with dad. First there's one room that no one goes in anymore and then there's another and another. One by one they lose the life they used to contain and when you walk in them they don't feel right anymore.

I'm going back to sleep for a while now. I've thinned the herd of words and I think I can rest some more.

Thank you my friends for your prayers and comments and good wishes. I am praying still for you all, too.


Chris said...

Flinty, I hope you are able to slep after you posted. Your words broke my heart for you.

I can identify with the the rooms. Where there was so much life, now are empty and filled with "stuff" I am sifting through.

Please now you and Dad are in my thoughts and prayers.

Lori1955 said...

Oh Flinty, my heart is just breaking reading this. It's almost like your mind is being flooded with so many things that if you don't get it out, you will just drown. I sooo understand about the house. Helen's room still remains untouched. God bless you my friend.

Annie said...

Although we've only just "met", please know that I am thinking of you.

~Betsy said...

Your eloquence with words leads me to believe you are a writer at heart. You have captured this all so well and I am drawn in to your world.

I especially like how you describe the sadness of the house. That is precisely what I felt in my mom and dad's house after dad died and mom moved here. I was faced with more than a year of visits to empty it out and each time it felt more and more sad. It was as if the house was crying for life to return. And it never did feel the same to me.

For what it's worth, you are truly an inspiration. Inside you are full of turmoil yet you are the pillar of strength your dad needs right now - and I suspect the rest of your family does, too. Please try and steal away a little Flinty time. Even if it is just a return to Starbucks, you need some time.

If you need an outside ear, email me with your phone number. ( Or I can give you mine. Like you said, you have been down this death path before (as have I) but that doesn't make it any easier.

I understand what you mean about the stubbornness and perseverance. My mom is very much like that.

Blessings to you and my prayers for your continued strength.

SKYGIRL said...

Oh Flinty, I do so love to read your posts, perhaps this one even though heart-wrenching, and sad, may be my favorite.

I am going to try to look up in my Bible somewhere, where Jesus said that "Death was our last Enemy" and then went on to say, because after that, there was everylasting life, no pain, no suffering, no sadness, anymore.

Until I can find it, I will leave you with this thought. It is a quote, band I will surely butcher it, but it goes something like this.

It is not in our greatness, or our perfection, or even in our achievements, where we, as Humans, meet. It it is in our vulnerablities, and perhaps our broken parts, and subtle weakness, is where our hearts truely meet.

Thank You for introducing us, to your Heart, Flinty. {{{HUGS}}}}

arutherford said...

Your words resonate with me, especially the part about the house.

About 3 months after Daddy died, my daughter and grandson moved in to my parents home and breathed life back into it. The timing of your blog post is really strange. I was over at the house just yesterday picking up a goldfish to feed while they are out of town. I walked around the quiet house and just stood in the middle of each room, soaking up the atmosphere. Thanks to my daughter, those rooms had been slightly changed but restored to a living, loving place, with an active 2.5 yr. old who my Father adored. I could feel my parents glowing with pleasure. I am so very blessed.

I continue to think of you and pray for you often Flinty. Our God will continue to give you strength for each moment.
Abundant blessings,

Patricia said...

Dear Flinty, your writing echoes my thoughts of nearly 8 years ago now, and my dear Father had the same problem with his bowels the final days. It is necessary to deal with this quite quickly to avoid pain. He was also pretty stubborn about leaving me, so I totally understand and keep you in my heart and in my prayers.