Breathing in I type some words. Breathing out I pause for a thought.
This weekend our son Alexander, turned nine years old. It was a drizzly dark end to the week but we found some light of our own making. Saturday night Alexander and I went to Lego Land for an October/Halloween Fest and costume contest. This year Alexander has become an astronaut. He decided they were very cool after watching Apollo 13 a few months ago.
This afternoon we had some family members over for cake and ice cream. I picked up Paul at the nursing home. My sister Tami took a 3 hour bus ride up from San Diego (only 30 minutes by car). And my mom drove the one and a half hours from Lake Elsinore. It was a very nice visit and Alexander came out ahead with some 25 dollars to add to his piggy bank and some nifty new books.
Paul was ready and clean when I picked him up at the home. He'd been bathed and shaved and had clean clothes on with his hearing aids in his ears. When I asked him if he said he wanted to come over he said, yes. But instead of sitting up or standing he handed me a weak hand expecting me to pull him off the bed.
I'm worried about how weak he is getting. And I wonder if he is 'giving up' to some extent. In his moments of lucidity he must wonder what is going on with himself. And does he have that kind of self awareness anymore? Recently he walks even slower and sometimes it seems like his legs are almost giving out. I asked him to pick up the pace this afternoon and that seemed to work for about five minutes, we were able to get out the front door , about 5 paces from the car and he made a bee-line for a bench and plopped down. I read in a pamphlet a few years ago that dementia can have a big effect on a persons ability to control their own body. They fall apart physically over time. And I think that is what's happening here.
Last weekend I brought Paul home for a little family time with me and Alexander and as we were leaving, getting ready to go back to his nursing home, he said to me "Me go bathroom" and I realized that his ability to access words has taken a real hit. He rarely says a whole sentence anymore. Almost never offering a comment or a thought, but still tries to answer questions, often thoughtfully.
Breathing in I am sitting on the bed. Breathing out I am aware of my fingertips touching the keyboard letters.
This past Wednesday I took him out for a mexican food lunch and asked him some Crawdaddy! history questions, like:
Why didn't you look for a big investor when the magazine had such a buzz and exponentially gaining readership? Why didn't you find someone that could front you a chunk of money so you could pay your employees and writers a good wage? He said, " Because you lose your freedom". He said it simply and clearly and with little forethought. I mentioned that Jann Wenner, creator of Rolling Stone, had done just that, he found a big investor in his girlfriend/wife's family and he could pay his writers more.....Paul smiled, didn't say a word. I mentioned that it was ironic that Jann married a woman with money and then turned out to be a closet gay guy that had been hiding his sexual preference even from his wife. Paul said "He knew what he wanted".
Still, some gems of wisdom from the great man. I take them where I can and they over ride the sad state of his deteriorating physical condition and loss of communication skills.
I do miss him. There's no question. A great deal.
But life must go on, right? If I were living in a god-forsaken land like Afghanistan or Iraq and saw wars ravages on my friends/loved ones daily, I would learn quickly to accept what is, life as it is. Not life as I want it to be, but what is in front of me. Some suffering, some joy.
And remember the pleasure of breathing.