A Day In the Life, Thanksgiving 2015

Yesterday I woke at 7:00 and, once again, stayed in bed until the anxiety passed. I meditated for twenty minutes, focusing on the breath and relaxation.

I let the dogs out and made coffee. Coffee works its magic by returning my optimism to me, especially if I make it half decaffeinated. A little goes a long way.

But the sink full of last night’s dirty dishes soured my mood. I had asked for help, but the men in my family see no problem with leaving the countertops dirty for a day or two. Since I’m the one with the problem, I end up cleaning, and I’m left with resentment.

On top of the dirty dishes, I had to forgo working on my Camino travelogue so that I could drive my father to the hospital. He has a staph infection in one of his heart valves, but he refuses any more surgery.

His only other option is to go to the hospital every day for six weeks to receive an infusion of antibiotics that go directly to his heart. His insurance won’t pay for in-home care because he is “ambulatory,” but he’s too weak to drive. My siblings and I are sharing the daily driving with my father’s wife (my parents divorced years ago) so that she doesn’t have to do it all.

When my son Freeboarder saw my glum mood, he tried to lift my spirits. “I know you don’t want to sacrifice your day of work,” he said, “but think of the good karma you’re generating.”

I know Freeboarder’s right. I know I have to help my father, in spite of our fraught relationship over the years. I have to help him because he is a part of me, because he is at the end of his life, and because underneath his stoicism he couldn’t help but be afraid. This is one of those moments in life when to help might create momentary resentment that in the long run contributes to overall happiness.

So I brought Dad homemade tomato and roasted red pepper soup and made him a few grilled cheese sandwiches.

On the way into the center, while I was parking the car, Dad almost fell. He walks with a cane and has arthritis in his spine and neck, so he might have stumbled, or he might have felt faint from weakness. But a male nurse happened to be walking right next to him as Dad started to go down, and the nurse caught him.

After Dad and I left the cancer center where he’s receiving his treatments, the sun was still bluing the sky at 4:30, however faintly. We were both still alive. We marveled at the miracle of the nurse who caught his fall, a guardian angel who appeared at the right moment to spare Dad more pain.

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A Day In the Life

I just read an article titled “So You Think You’re Happy” that suggests certain activities that might promote a sense of wellbeing or contentedness with one’s life. 

One of the suggestions is to write a “day in the life” blog post as a series, which strikes me as just the thing. My life is fairly ho hum, so I have plenty of material for slice of life posts. Maybe I’ll learn to appreciate my quiet existence if I write about my days.

Lately I’ve been staying in bed until around 8:30 or 9:00 am, long enough for mediation and breathing to ease the anxiety. I lie on my side and look out the window for a while, and then I sit up and meditate in bed. I feel grateful for working part-time, which gives me the flexibility to work on my mental health at my leisure. 

The next step is to let the dogs out into our wooded, fenced backyard. Today S.A. did that job, which was nice for a change. I made coffee, sat in a chair near the sunny living room window, and read news articles for an hour.

In the afternoon I took Red for a six-mile hike at a local park. It was fun at first, but he kept tugging on the leash and wanting to sniff every single dog we passed. 

I suppose it wouldn’t have been too draining except I just had minor surgery yesterday for a skin cancer lesion, and I was in some pain still from the incision. Next time I’ll probably leave Red at home and do my usual hike with trekking poles. Today when we were going down some rocks, he pulled on the leash and I landed on my rump. Plus, I scraped my hand.

S.A. has been making dinner every Wednesday night, which I so appreciate. Tonight it was cod with spinach and lemon sauce served with zucchini and tomatoes baked in the oven with avocado oil. It was doubly delicious because he made it AND cleaned up.

While he was cooking, I headed to my office and wrote 500 words of the travelogue I’m working on. Usually, I try to write more, but I was wiped out from the hike up the mountain, even after resting for a half an hour. 

So, those were the highlights of my day, besides the ever-enlightening conversations I had with my sons and the books I’ve been reading. My daily wish is to gain insights and to better understand the people I love.

   
 

Napkin Art

My new nickname for Philosopher is Sadhu, Sanskrit for “spiritual seeker.” I think the word might be similar to the Buddhist “bodhisattva.”

My younger son Freeboarder is leaving for art school in a few days. His nickname remains the same. As I write this post he’s somewhere in the city doing ollies with his new board.

Sadhu came over to stain the deck for us, and he left some napkin art in his wake.

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Do you notice the resemblance between his doodle and the 18th century headstone I saw recently in the Berkshires? When he was a very young child, we went to this cemetery while we were walking up Cone Hill.

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Connections

When my son Freeboarder told me I was a ‘computer beast,’ I felt like Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away when he yells on the beach, “I have made fire.”

Freeboarder was psyched because after struggling with loading Windows on his iMac, we finally achieved internet connection on the Windows side of his hard drive. The saga involved four trips to the computer store, stops at Subway for supplies in the way of food, three lengthy conversation with ATT, and a snowfall.

In Atlanta snow is a big deal. We were in the thick of computer hell when I looked up from the monitor and said, “hey, it’s snowing!”

“I know. It has been for almost twenty minutes,” he said, deadpan.

We were both exhausted from talking to technicians and installing software, and the snow stayed in the periphery. We read in one of his manuals a step he had left out, so finally the problem was solved. Today he can play Warhammer on his iMac, and he’s happy.

Last night my husband and I watched Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie. It’s about a mother who is treated with terrible cruelty by the police after she reports the disappearance of her nine-year-old son. John Malkovich plays the part of a Presbyterian minister who befriends the mother and helps her in her dealings with the police. The movie, set in the late twenties, shows what little power women had then. Jolie deserves her Oscar nomination for the role – she played the part of the mother very convincingly. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she looks like Helen of Troy.

After the movie I went downstairs to say goodnight to Freeboarder, and gave him three big hugs and a kiss on the cheek. After watching a mother’s agony over losing her child, I felt particularly grateful to see my own son with his eyes glued to the computer screen. And he suffered the hugs with magnanimity, sweet kid.