Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Great Meltdown

If I told my granddaughter that we were having a meltdown, she would immediately think of one of her favorite movies called "Ice Age...The Meltdown" and she would wonder where all the woolly mammoths and saber tooth tigers are. The reality is that the ice age we have been experiencing this week is having a meltdown. Yesterday temperatures were in the mid 40's and today they are in the mid 50's. All of the ice has fallen from the trees, most of the back roads are clear, and streams of water flow everywhere. This meltdown has a very liberating feeling.

I have spent the afternoon on my usual Sunday tour visiting the parents. The beautiful day and melting ice were reason enough to be in a good mood. I thought I would enhance the mood by listening to an open air concert, recorded at the height of summer in 1972, while I drove down the road. It was a performance by the New Riders of the Purple Sage. The NRPS are what happens when a bunch of hippies smoke a lot of weed and play country music.

The first stop was my mother's house. I had a pleasant visit and I expected to see some siblings there but Mom was home alone. Most of my family, except for me, experienced power losses during the ice storm. Because of that some of them stayed with Mom who had power. The second stop...visiting Dad...turned out to be heartbreaking. When I walked into his room he was yelling for a nurse. He was not having a good day. He was very agitated and confused. He told me that he hadn't been fed in three days and that he wanted to get up. The truth was that he had just had lunch and had only been in the bed for ten minutes or so. In his mind everyone was ignoring him. For him a minute is an hour and he has virtually no short term memory. I tried my best to comfort him and to ease his mind. Nothing I did or said worked. After about an hour I simply had to leave. I couldn't take it anymore. It broke my heart to see him in such mental distress. When I got out in the parking lot I called my sister and gave her a report on my experience. She is going to go over to the nursing home at dinner time tonight and make sure he eats something. I was in tears on the way home. I turned off my music and drove in silence. I have been present when my wife's parents took their last breaths. Seeing my Dad in his current state makes me wish his last breath would come soon. I absolutely hate seeing him suffer like I saw today, especially when I am so helpless to alleviate it. At the moment I feel exhausted from the experience. Part of this is because he's my Dad. Another part is likely due to the fact that I am a very empathetic person. I do have a strong sense of how he feels. It is relatively easy for me to put myself in his shoes and his bed. All I can do is pray that God comforts his mind and gives him some inner peace.

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