Tick, tick, tick, tick. It sounds like rain dripping on a roof. It is the rhythm of meters and gauges of the monitoring equipment wired and plumbed into my wife’s body. She’s had a heart attack and after a week in the hospital, things are going better. There’s a stint installed but after subsequent complications she is in an induced coma and a ventilator. There is a harness of plumbing down her throat and I feel horribly helpless. There is nothing I can do except just be there. And, nobody can piss off my wife simply with their presence like I can. Haar!
A week later, she’s still in the hospital. This and that have happened and now she is lost in a sea of delirium. I suppose if her rants weren’t directed so pointedly at me and the hospital staff, it would be funny. Even though I understand the situation, it is quite cutting and hurtful and it is hard to not take things personally; which of course is foolish. This will pass, but then there is the daily drive along the snot-chute which is the south island highway, then into the Downtown Victoria traffic and finally finding a parking spot at the hospital, only to spend a few minutes with your loved one before realizing your presence is upsetting her; that’s a crusher.
You reverse your route homeward with a heavy heart and despair that there is nothing else you can do. Meanwhile, every third zoom-head on the road seems to want to kill themselves and take you with them. I caught myself doing 120 km/h to go with the flow and still felt I was holding up production. Once finally home you spend the long minutes through the rest of the day, and the night, pondering if she’ll come out of this and wondering how long her minutes are. At least I have the two wee dogs and their wonderful company. One of Jill’s greatest frustrations is that I’m not bringing them for a visit and refuse to understand that they can’t come into the hospital. That breaks my heart. The dogs would do so much for her, if only they could indeed visit.
I know that some folks endure this kind of ordeal for years. May the gods grant me that kind of courage to stand up to whatever challenges lay ahead. Even if it were not payback after all the years that Jill has supported my back, I just want to get her well enough to come home. So, enough blubbing about poor me. Jill needs everyone’s positive thoughts and yes, even prayers. She has had a horrible year and does not deserve this. Through her long career as a teacher, Jill has positively influenced thousands of lives, both students and teachers. That she has been dealt these hard hands this year is completely unjust but then life is seldom fair. Thank you to those who have offered and provided their support. It means so much.
Almost three weeks later she is home again. She is frail and weak and has lost a lot of weight. (Hospital food!) She has a stint and a pacemaker, covered in bruises and bandages. She is definitely not up for dancing on any tables but there is still a spark in her eyes. The dogs are thrilled to have her home and so am I. We don’t know what the future holds but we’ll take it on one day at a time.
Sadly one of my dear friends has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I can say without reserve that I love this man, a highly skilled shipwright and craftsman who has lead a wonderful life and drawn around him a brilliant assortment of friends who are also lovely people. He has taught me a lot and flavoured my life brilliantly. I’ll not mourn for him yet but am horrified that his days may end like this. BASTARDS!
Perhaps providentially, I found this poem today and post it with my blog instead of the usual quote. It is timely and appropriate.
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the beauty in others;
to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here.
Here I sit, a steaming mug of coffee beside me as I begin to write. I am in my camper, the “Hemoth”, in a friend’s backyard on Gabriola Island, visiting old haunts and friends. This is yet another blog in which I mention the rain. The next “Atmospheric River” arrived in the night. The rain drums a wild fandango on the camper roof. I lay up in the bed snug and warm, cozy in the result of all my efforts. The new mattress is very fine, the furnace works like a good one should. I looked out through the now not-leaking windows at the thin grey dawn and went to the brand-new toilet. Then it was time to light the new-used galley stove and perk a pot of coffee. My day can begin. Sheer decadence!
This island was my home for a few years. I worked in the local shipyard and have wonderful stories, not all happy, about what I can look back on as the end of an era. The restaurant has burned down, the shipyard is closed, any hope of reviving the wooden boat school is long-lost. Rumours of an ancient Indian curse on Silva Bay ring true. I’ll meander around the island and then hopefully catch a ferry back to the big island. There’s been a crewing problem on the ferry due to a shortage of Covid-vaccinated personnel and several sailing have been cancelled. Like a turtle with its home on its back I’ll be fine, the old man who lived in an egg.
Home again, checking my email, I come upon the following ad from someone selling insurance. “Burial coverage that lasts a lifetime.” It’s a lugubrious mix of words which can be interpreted a few different ways. I wonder if the ad-writer woke up in the middle of the night realizing their gaff. “We’ll cover your ass.” “Out of luck, you’re dead.” It will be hard pulling your foot out of that one. Thanks for the humour!
Sometimes the gods send you an angel. Today I was tinkering on the ‘Hemoth’ where it sits in our storage yard on the back alley. I was about to drive away when a senior in their small enclosed electric scooter trundled up the alley, effectively blocking my exit. I sat and waited, allowing them time to clear the alley without my imposition behind them. Finally I idled up the alley as slowly as I could but there was the little red cart blocking the route. I sat mumblefluxing to myself about how to deal with the situation. The occupant sat inside the cart’s plastic enclosure peering back at me as if she wanted me to pass her. Finally she dismounted and came back to the truck. She needed help. Her battery was dead and she asked if I could tow her home to a senior’s housing complex two blocks away. Of course I would.
I secured a stout thirty foot marine mooring line to the front of her tiny buggy and we set off as slowly as I could. Up the hill, out onto the street, around another corner, further up the hill, around another corner. We arrived without mishap. I then pushed the cart by hand as she steered the remaining distance to her parking spot at her front door. All of the dark imaginings about what could have gone wrong on our wee jaunt vaporized as she introduced herself. Loriki was a very old tiny Japanese lady who was utterly charming. Jack was eager to meet her which in itself is a huge accolade. I gained a friend and feel blessed to have lent her a hand. Meeting her made my day. And to think how I could have bulled my way past her and left her to fate.
Kindness is a selfish thing, your reward is always bigger than your offering. I keep smiling at the image of my big lurching camper truck towing this lady up the street at the end of a long rope. There’s a cartoon there.
Two days since I began this blog the lid was jacked off another grim grey dawn. Another atmospheric river flows over us and rain pizzles down without stop. Jack’s outdoor water dish is full and overflowing yet again. As a former pilot from the old days when meteorology was a serious subject (right behind learning Morse Code) I was required to know about warm and cold fronts, trowels, troughs, high and low pressure systems, cloud types and what they meant in forecasting, isobars and dew points. Never among all that terminology did the term “atmospheric river” appear. It seemed logical that we knew how to look at a barometer and thermometer and what sort of clouds were blowing which way, then be able to predict what the weather was up to. Now we press a button and it is instantly available and explained. We can also turn on the tely and let some young nubile in a tight dress verbally machine gun a continuous sentence about atmospheric rivers. She’ll use words like “Prowr” and other illiteracies. Until recently, her term for “Atmospheric River” was “Pineapple Express.” I guess folks just aren’t content with the twelve month predictions in the Farmer’s Almanac anymore. And do you remember the catgut barometer where the little Swiss milkmaid came out of a tiny Alpine cabin for fair weather and the old man came out for the shit days? Yeah, I guess I AM that old.
Next day another atmospheric river is meandering overhead. Through the day the rain steadily increases in volume and after nightfall, about 4:30 pm, a fog begins to rise. I need to nip down to the grocery story, the main street is resplendent in Christmas lights. The usual number of moron motorists insist on driving around with retina-burning hi-beam headlights. I am half-blinded as I creep through the four-way stop. Suddenly, immediately in front of the car’s hood, a black-clad, black umbrella toting pedestrian has appeared. How she got out there from the curb is stunning. Yes, I stopped in time. I gave her my best old sailor roar but she was adamant about her rights. I’ve said it before and damnit I’ll say it again. We see it daily on our roads. We have devolved to the point where the primal instinct, fear, which has kept our species alive for a very long time, has eroded severely for many people. Perhaps there is a FEAR App. for that ubiquitous cell phone. Beep, beep, termination imminent!
The premium app allows you to choose a celebrity warning voice. How about Porky Pig? “Tha, tha, that’s all folks!”
Black Friday Weekend huh?
Sunday morning, the rain continues. Monday, it’s stopped for a while. Jack and I are going for a walk.
Three blogs back I made the heinous error of describing the Farsi language as Parsi. Just one letter out but it is like describing Chinese as Japanese. I owe an apology to a very large ethnic group.
My second brainfart (to which I’ll admit) came today when an email arrived to which I stupidly responded. It was a scam. Now I am having to undo my knee-jerk foolishness. It is a time of year when we are all probably expecting a package and with current shipping issues, a damaged label seemed quite possible. They needed $3 to relabel and redirect the package. The scam really comes when you’ve given them a credit card number which is then reported to be not working and do you have another one you could use? Dumbo finally smelled the coffee and reported his stupidity. A new credit card is in the mail. I know, I know …as smart as he looks! You’ve been warned. Interestingly within hours, several ‘stranded package’ scams appeared. Scams must work, they keep coming. I’m not the only fool out there.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato