Saturday, June 24, 2006


Today we drove to the Oregon coast. It's only about an hour and a half drive. Dad began questioning Ken about his work (he's a heavy equipment operator/supervisor for a natural gas company in Wyoming). When discussing the kind of vehicles Ken drives for work, Dad said he should haul a trailer. Filled with turkey cages, constructed in such a way that the turkey droppings collected and were turned into methane, an alternative fuel source to run the truck. Of course the turkeys would require feed and water, adding to the weight he would have to haul, as well as whatever processing equipment to convert the manure into methane gas. The turkeys then shouldn't be in individual cages so they could procreate. This would provide a continuous source of methane and food as well. So, of course, you would have to add a rotisserie to the back of the rig for roasting whatever turkey you plan to eat that day. You would also want to sell the remnants from the methane processing for topsoil. I envision a Dr. Seuss kind of rig with water tanks, feed bins, turkey dropping collection, some kind of wild processor that puts moonshine rigs to shame, and a rotisserie off to the side. With every sentence the rig became more elaborate, until the only vehicle that could haul it would be a D-8 Cat. I laughed so hard I thought I would wet myself.

Upon arriving at an ocean overlook: "It's a lot of water."
Upon driving away from the beach: "We're almost at sea level."
To test my self-restraint: "Kim, you sing so beautifully, why do you whistle so terribly?"
More "Stop!" "Pull over!" "Why are you driving so fast?" "Why are you driving so slow?" "You missed it!" "What did that sign say?" "You went too far." "Why are you turning around." "Why did we pull into a parking lot where there aren't any parking spaces?" Did we know there weren't any spaces until we checked? "You need to get behind that car." "You shouldn't leave so much room there, someone will get between us and the next car."

The minute the key goes in the ignition the talking begins. All the words he didn't say when he was hiding out in his basement study when we were kids seem to have been stored up, and now must be spoken anytime he is in the car. It's very different from the mostly silent car trips of the past, each of us in our own little world, only brought out of it by requests for bathroom breaks. "You should have gone at home." "I didn't have to go at home."

Still, after false starts, and many stops, we did make it to a lovely beach that was nearly deserted. Dad sat in a folding chair while we beachcombed and took in the sound of the ocean, the smell of the surf and the feel of the sand and water between our toes. There was a lighthouse on a point off to the south. Someday I have to live by the ocean. The food didn't really turn out, but who cares? We were on the beach, staring at the ocean, and on the return trip we drove by vineyard after vineyard, with their neat and tidy rows of beautifully leafy vines (too far away to see the quality of the fruit). Food for the soul.

Dad's worn out. Ken leaves in the morning. A week has gone by with nothing resolved, but with a clearer picture of what's going on. A heat wave has hit Salem. I hope it doesn't last too long. I don't do well in the heat. I wanna go home. I love seeing my parents. I want to help, but I still wanna go home.

I was going to write about how sometimes the most decent, praiseworthy, upright and honorable thing you can do is NOT to hit, strangle or smother another person whose behavior begs for it, but I'll leave that for another post another time.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm Not Over-reacting

Thank goodness my brother Ken came out here to Oregon as well. I often wonder if I am making too much of a big deal of what's going on with Mom and Dad, or mis-reading the signs of trouble, but Ken sees them too. We got to witness a lesser "episode" today. A single glucose tablet was enough to bring him out of it enough to be able to eat. Today the doctor seemed to indicate that Dad needs to be on meds to help keep him awake during the day so that he is tired enough to sleep without so many of the pain pills for his horrid back pain. But this is symptom treatment. All of the symptoms are apparently related to renal problems. Apparently the doctor indicated that "this will kill me". Well, we have given Dad some good days. He has really enjoyed having Ken and me here, and I confess to really enjoying spending time with Ken. I have always thought that we didn't have much in common, but we actually have a lot of similar tastes in movies and sick humor.

Tomorrow we are heading to the coast, God willing. It seems to be really good for Dad to get out of the house, and having us here gives him the extra motivation to push himself past his pain or physical discomfort. Plus, it's hard to be this close to the coast without seeing and smelling the ocean and walking along the beach.

I think this has also been good for Mom. It seems to me that simply giving them a change of pace and an alteration to their days has been a good thing, even if we do watch things on TV that puzzle them. (I turned on "Elf" today, and Ken watched some WW-something or other.)

I baked a chicken with olive oil and fresh rosemary, but their oven is faulty and didn't roast it nearly fast enough. I wound up finishing it in the microwave and then oven broiling it for color. Moist and delicious.

After seeing an "episode", there is no way anyone without medical training and/or experience could handle this. It's frightening, and if he is combative or near comatose, it would be terrifying and possibly dangerous.

Well, the best hope is that Dad's schedule gets under control, so that his blood sugar is better regulated. This would help Mom.

What to do? I guess just visit as often as possible, call, write, and email.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Today Was Good

Dad can't get up at a decent hour anymore. Often he doesn't get dressed, but will stay in his pajamas for days unless he has to go to the doctor or get out for a drive. Today Mom and Dad decided to take me and my younger brother, Ken, for a drive to see their favorite mountain spots. Dad doesn't drive any more, unless you count driving Mom crazy! From the passenger seat Dad directs the day with a running patter of conversation.

Topics of Conversation or Random Comments:

* Enzyte. I don't know why this is such a running topic of conversation, but "Bob" repels and amuses him greatly. It allows him to mention subjects I would rather not talk about, and once upon a time he would never have discussed in my presence.

* Bathroom Cleanliness. This has always been a topic of intense interest in my family, so nothing new here.

* The Gospel According to Dracula. I don't even know how to describe this, as I couldn't really follow the arguments.

* Dogs Barking. Really. There were dogs barking. Dogs, I tell you. But they will be geese when Dad tells the story. And he will.

* Dying. His own death is a frequent topic of conversation, remarks peppered throughout the day, especially in regard to what to do with his books, so they can be marketed properly once Dad is gone.

* Urinary Tract Infections. Yes, I know your immediate response. It is my response as well. Turn to the window, stick your fingers in your ears and hum.

* How fast/slow Mom is driving. This includes quizzing her on traffic signs to determine if she is paying attention. The good thing about this is that it means HE is paying attention.

* What jobs he could (still) get to make money.

* The girls he dated before mom.

* Greek Grammar. Most every subject turns into this subject, proving what his mind is constantly thinking about.

* "Stop and take a picture of that mountain!" The first time he ordered, "Stop!" Mom sweeps onto the shoulder, braking sharply to a halt just feet before a reflector pole. A large motorhome whizzes by, barely missing ramming our back end. I'm not sure how I managed not to scream like that guy in the Capital One commercials.

* "These roads, they all lead to somewhere." Skip a beat. Then the entire car erupts in laughter. This line will be muttered under my breath while passing various roads for the rest of the trip.

We had lunch/dinner at a small restaurant in Sisters, Oregon. Dad's blood sugar was low, so he had a BBQ sandwich. The sauce dripped down his white beard, staining it red. His thinking wasn't clear, so he kept telling everyone working in the restaurant that he thought he was getting a french dip. A french dip could still have run down his chin...

He is in such pain. I wonder how much he is pushing himself to be pleasant company. He is trying, so I accept that in the way it is intended. And, oh, how I wish he wasn't hurting, suffering from infections, having the problems with his blood sugar. I wish he could move as he used to, enjoy the outdoors like he wants to. And I wish I wasn't so restless visiting here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Life Changes

Today's blog is difficult. I'm in a strange state. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. I'm more comfortable stepping in, making decisions, making changes, fixing things. I wish I could figure out what steps to take to help my parents. Their current situation is like a never-ending drip. Like water torture. It's not the one drop of water, but the endless succession of them at varying intervals that you cannot plan on. Money is tight, the health issues never seem to resolve themselves, but are one after the other. Each day is spent in the worry of constant vigilence against the onward march of death. Even knowing that death is inevitable does not allow you to relax and simply allow death to advance and snatch dad away without a fight. Yet it is not a state like an untreatable, inoperable cancer where you are allowed to relax the vigilence and make your peace with the grim reaper. It is not the short-term death march, but like a minefield that must be negotiated daily.

Dad is uncooperative, though I think he cooperates as well as he is able. He has become demanding without realizing it. He thinks he is merely asking, but he is insistent.

Oh well, I've gotta go, something is wrong with his computer again...