15 days ago, my dad went in to the hospital to have what was supposed to be a “relatively” simple surgery…. For an 83 year old… The surgery itself, you know cutting and stitching, removal of a kidney and the cancer that thought it needed to take residence in dad’s body. All that went well. But then dad’s tongue swelled up, he thought he’d have some chest pain, and his body forgot how to swallow properly. Note to self… Do not EVER take the ability to swallow for granted. What was supposed to be three days in the hospital turned into 6, along with Puppa being discharged with a feeding tube that goes from his nose to bowel. All this for a man who has never made a big deal about himself or caused too much “commotion”. Even now, as he and my mom’s house is over run with their “Gestapo” daughter, the brother’s, my mom, and any help I can gather along the way, I have not heard one complaint from dad, other than “I thought we were going to get to go have some oatmeal.” This after his second failed swallow test. “My flapper’s not working” is Dad’s description over the phone to his people that call.
If Dad’s “flapper” was working properly, he’d be doing groovy, instead he’s hooked up to a pump 16 hours a day. My brother’s and I have all taken turns running the show; I have taken on the position of patient advocate. It’s all trial and error, I am in previously uncharted territory, and I seriously wonder constantly what the people who don’t have an advocate do. I suspect get sicker, stay in hospital longer, wither away, and don’t go fishing.
Spending a large amount of time in the role of scheduler, Dr. caller, list maker, direction giver, nurse, daughter, mother, and sister…. I’m pretty worked. As my friend Erin put it, “Even if you’re not physically there, you are there.” So I look for God, wherever I can find him. I thought I would share some of the places I saw God this past week.
I turned my head to look out my front window, and there he was in some peach blossoms in the yard next door.
He’s my brother Roy making food, perfecting the medication time list on the computer.
He’s my husband just doing what I say, even when I don’t say it in a nice way.
He’s my brother Pat providing his expertise on stuff I don’t know about and making us laugh.
He’s my mom saying, “Bob, I missed you,” when Dad and I have been gone all day in an attempt to get things going in a better direction.
God came to the yoga studio when I needed to be reminded to just breathe, when my teacher walked on my feet and pushed on my back when I was in child’s pose, or when another gently eased my shoulders down and rubbed my head in savasana.
God showed up at orchestra Tuesday night. As we played Andante and Nocturne from the Rabinowitz Suite, He helped everyone find their correct notes and me smile and silently cry at the same time in the beauty of D minor. He was my buddy Mary sitting next to me giving me insight on what the piece was written about. Brian telling a new person that the only reason he stayed with orchestra is because I told him (Brian) to just play the notes he knew. Brian is in his third season with North Coast Strings. God was here in the Dome when I came home and had Robert was playing something in a minor scale on his harmonica. He’s Irma who vacuumed up all the threads up off the sewing room floor.
God’s the speech pathologist who shares the same name as a friend from fiddle camp. He’s a home care nurse. He’s a dietitian who plans my dad’s feeding and calls to check on us. He’s the Dr who put his feet up on the counter today while he talked to Dad. I took it as I’m going to just sit here, be with you, and listen gesture.
God is my dog, Rodeo, who is so happy to see me when I come in the door, who will follow me around mom and dad’s house if he comes with me, who is happy to let me smell his dog nose, who gives unconditionally when I want some quality dog time on the sewing room floor.
God is my kids who call or show up when I need someone to give someone a ride or spend time with Gramma, so I can be where I need to be with Dad to learn some new thing to help him get better and go fishing. So he can go back to taking care of Gramma.
He’s my brother Giles and his blunt practicality, Giles who is here being Eugene and Giles, because it doesn’t work for both to be here.
He was the wonderful sunshine and the smell of the sea on Shelter Island, as Dad told me about ships and we watched them come and go. He was in my friend’s back yard today, while Dad and I sat under an umbrella, and I could hook up the feeding so Puppa could get a little nutrition to go the long haul.
He was a snail mail letter from Sue, a phone call to my girlfriend Shelly, emails from other folks. He is one of my co-workers who brought in a book to work that I need for a test. He’s an art project. He’s all over the place, even if he decided Dad was going fail his swallow test and I would be pissed off at Him, he still shows up in the most random places.
God showed up in a thrift store in San Diego today. Dad wanted to take the scenic route to my friend’s house. I turned off the GPS, and let Dad lead the way. I heard more stories about when my parents were in the Navy, where my dad worked on boilers, I heard bits about my parents honeymoon. I learned Dad’s first car was a ’47 Nash, named Milou. Part of “the scenic route” passed a thrift store I had seen from the freeway on my way to the airport, never managed to get to it. “Dad, can I just run in and do a quick walk through?” “Sure, go ahead, we’ve got plenty of time.”
Mom was angry this morning because she was missing a yellow bowl that had made it’s way to my house over Christmas time and wasn’t returned. I didn’t need to start my day with someone getting angry with me for something I had no control over. “Mom, you’ve got two others, do you need it right now???” “No, I just want it back.”
I walked up the ramp to the entrance to the DAV Thrift Store. I thought to myself, “How is it that I have never been to this mother of all thrift stores???” I looked down, and there on the shelf, waiting for me, was a big yellow Pyrex bowl. I had no eyes or need for anything else, I was just too excited to go to the car and show Dad.
I have never before, seen the beloved big yellow bowl in a thrift store in California. Today, God was a big yellow bowl at the DAV. Before I left to take Dad this morning, I stuck 5 dollars in my sweater pocket, thinking I would use it to pay for parking. Dad paid for parking. I bought a yellow bowl. I don’t have to look for the one that came to my house. Mom’s happy.
For now, this moment, I give thanks for all the times I got to see and feel the Divine in random places and not so glorious times. I ask for patience for all of us in this situation. I also say thanks for God’s sense of humor. I look forward in anticipation for when He shows up tomorrow.
In Health and Love,