Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Quiet Existence

I'm still living at my dad's house as he recuperates from open heart surgery and a mild TIA he suffered the first week home, which was most likely the scariest moment in my life to witness. But it has left no shadow in its wake, thankfully, except for the lasting image in my mind, looking into my dad's blue-gray eyes, fearfully realizing that for a few agonizing minutes, he was not there, for the glitch occurring in his brain.

In the almost three weeks I've been here, I've discovered quiet existence. At times I feel I am in a monastery, as we sit monk-like, just being. Simple housework has become zen-like, along with observing the minutiae of daily life. I note the patterns in the carpeting the vacuum cleaner leaves behind. I inhale the scent of freshly dried laundry, wondering why my clothes at home don't smell the same as I make a mental note to pick up Dad's choice of laundry soap. I reminisce as I see Mom in almost every corner of the house though her collections of antiques and scattered snapshots depicting happier, healthier times. Dad occasionally notices the wind playing with the tree tops, commenting that the weather is changing. We both lightly laugh at the cat's antics as she randomly bats at a fake furry mouse, then darts away from it as if it suddenly became real. Sometimes we banter back and forth over some news item, snickering at the state of Illinois politics. I ask him if he wants lunch, or if wants to take yet another handful of medication as my throat closes at the thought.

The passage of time is marked with the emptying of Dad's compartmentalized medicine organizer, as if it were a calendar.

We sit together in this large house, silently, not because we have nothing to say to each other, but because we don't have to, if we choose.

This time spent in this house, with my dad, reminded me of his quiet acceptance. Life is what it is. Move on the best you can because another day is just waiting on the other side of the hemisphere. My dad could howl at the moon, curse at the harsh light of day. Who knows, he may in solitude. He may not. I do know my dad is anxious to get some semblance of his life pre-surgery returned to him. He is itching to be able to drive wherever and whenever, or be able to push himself out of his chair using his arms. I bet he's waiting for the day when he owns the t.v. remote again (he has relinquished it to me for some reason), when he can belch without apology...who knows, walk around the house sans clothing. He knows, though, that going on and on about what he can't do isn't going to make the day when he can arrive sooner.

I am going to have to return to my home soon. Back to my hyper corgis, the cat who isn't there, my too-small rooms stuffed with too much, well, stuff. Back to my daughter and her off-kilter humor that sometimes needs to be reigned in. Home to the other quiet man in my life, one who for whatever reason is not totally comfortable with lingering silence.

But, if I have learned anything living with my dad for this span of time, I have rediscovered that quiet place within me that can exist outside solitude. When the corgis bark and yip at imaginary sheep, or when my daughter channels Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Stephen Colbert at the same time, or when my husband waxes unpoetical about glass manufacturing operations...all of the above usually happening simultaneously, I'll have somewhere to go.

1 comment:

  1. Superbly written.

    Remember when we experimented with Baked Alaska in the Ramada kitchen? The complete name of the desert is "Baked Alaska Grand Success." Your dad frowned at our creation and dubbed it "Baked Alaska Mild Success." The memory makes me smile to this day.

    When I get back your way we should all cook something together.