Thank you, everyone who has posted comments or emailed me about my dad. I appreciate all the prayers and healing energy sent our way. The last time I posted an entry, the doctors had told me to expect his condition to be terminal; since then, the cardiologist has told me that he thinks Dad’s heart condition can be controlled by adjusting his medication (he is too old for open heart surgery). On Friday, he was moved to a nursing home (aka “extended care facility”). I’ve been commuting to the hospital or nursing home from the island every day and spending long hours there. It’s good. It’s the most important thing to do right now.
The nursing home has been a pleasant surprise to all of us concerned with his care, including Pop. I guess we have a lot of negative cultural images about what those places are like. But this one is clean and colorful, and the nurses and aides seem to be very friendly, very caring and very professional. If you need constant nursing and have to be away from home, it’s a pretty good place to be. It’s easy for me to imagine being the patient myself; I’ve had four hospital stays over the years (not counting childbirth). In 1987, I was hospitalized off and on for three months. My dad came to see me every day I was there, too, and often brought my boys to see me.
We hope to have him home by July 1st, with in-home caregivers. He seems to be getting a little bit better every day, although he is very weak and fatigued.
My life seems to be opening up a little more too, after being in crisis mode for a week. Yesterday evening when I got home, Craig and I went for a long walk by the bay. There is nothing like the combination of exercise and being out in the natural world to chase away the blues and re-center me right in the heart of the Goddess. The tide was high and the sun low (but not too low — it would not set for three more hours, after 9 PM). Mist was rising around the islands to the west. It was warm and breezy.
I love the “edges” of day and night, because that’s when you’re most likely to see birds and wildlife. On our walk, we saw (of course) the ubiquitous gulls, crows and red-winged blackbirds; tree swallows and barn swallows; a flock of goldfinches swooping over our heads and hopping from Doug fir to Doug fir all the way down the road; mallards on the pond and my beloved Great Blue Heron, hunting for his dinner; a bald eagle sitting on top of the highest shore pine out on the point, surveying his domain; sandpipers squealing as they flew low over the beach. On our way home, we stopped dead in our tracks and I grabbed Craig’s arm — an otter (sleek, dark brown and shiny) snuck out from the piles of driftwood on the beach, dashed across the road in front of us, and made for the tall grasses of the slough behind the old boathouses and fishing gear on the inland side of the road. We couldn’t believe what we’d seen! We’ve seen evidence of otters in our neighborhood before (tracks and discarded clam shells under fir trees, mostly), but have never seen one cross the road like that. Very unusual. A woman in a car behind us on the road had been driving about 5 MPH and she looked at us in amazement and threw up her hands. Who woulda thunk you’d see an otter on the road?
I started to wonder if I should take the appearance of the otter to be a sign, since it was so unusual. I associate otters with playfulness — perhaps it is OK for me to be a bit playful again. Perhaps the crisis has passed and it’s time to bring my life back into balance. I would like that.
Before my dad went into the hospital, I had planned to take either today or tomorrow off, and spend this rare moment of Full Sun / Full Moon by sketchcrawling the island — meandering and exploring with my sketch pad in hand, drawing different scenes everywhere I went, from sunrise to sundown (that would be about 4 AM to about 10 PM right now). I’m adjusting my plan — I will still do that each morning and perhaps each evening, but I’ll be going to see Pop for a good part of the day.
I hope you take the time to honor Summer Solstice and the Full Moon, in whatever way seems best to you!