Monday, June 30, 2014

A little early morning music

I lurched out of bed at about 5:15 and into the bathroom to do those necessary things that one must do upon waking in the morning. While I was washing my face and my hands, I suddenly heard music. It was a bright, upbeat jazzy sort of melody of the sort that National Public Radio might play between segments in a program, so I assumed Richard gotten up and turned on the radio. But the music kept on going, so then I assumed he had turned on the computer to live-streaming music, which he sometimes does if the transponder for the NPR station is off the air (which it often is).

When I opened the door the bathroom, he was standing there waiting for me with a funny look on his face.

Me: Did you turn on the radio?

Him: No. I thought you had suddenly decided to play the keyboard. And I was thinking, wow, you have really gotten good!

Me: No, I wasn’t playing the keyboard. Obviously.

Obviously indeed, because the bright and lively music was still playing.

To my unanswered question he pointed toward “Kitty Prison”...

the section of the house in which we confine the Squeaker kitty at night because she bothers us and where I keep the electronic keyboard I use to practice.

He had just opened the door to let her out. I am not sure how the cat did it... 

because I have not figured out how to do it myself, but she managed to turn the keyboard on (well, I do know how to that), and step on just the right combination of buttons to cause the keyboard to begin playing preprogrammed music in its memory banks.

Not exactly Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, but fun anyway.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

No human father has ever been perfect, so I expect just about everybody has a bad memory or too, of their dad, but for some people, being reminded of their father on Father’s Day is like having a sharp thorn thrust through their heart. Some fathers weren't just imperfect humans, but were monstrous and treated their children in ways we would like to imagine couldn’t possibly have happened, but did.

I heard a story yesterday from the man who preached at our church about his father. He came home drunk, opened a jar of pickled pig's feet, and ate all of the meat off the bones. Instead of throwing the bones away, he put them back in the jar, put the lid on, and put the jar back in the cupboard.

The next day he lined his children up and demanded to know who had eaten the pickled pig's feet. None of them had, of course, thus, none of them would admit to having eaten the pig's feet. So, he beat all of them because he knew at least one of them had to be lying.

I am thankful that don't have that sort of story to tell, but I always seem to have trouble finding a good Father’s Day card for my dad, who was not perfect but who was, and still is, the best possible dad a child could have wanted.

I found a very nearly perfect card this year.

The elementary school I attended was within walking distance of our house, and so I walked to school. During those early years, my dad worked part time at a gasoline station and went to the trade-tech school in the evenings to study to become an auto mechanic, and I think after that was done he worked swing shift. In any event, he was home during at least part of the day, and on many mornings, he rode me to school on the handlebars of a bicycle, and when I was too big for that, I sat on the crossbar.

And then I remember quite well one summer afternoon, the local parks and recreation department had a kit-flying contest at one of the nearby parks. My dad and I used the sticks from an old kite to frame and covered it with white tissue paper used to wrap presents. I decorated it with a sponge dipped in paint. We attached a tail and some fishing like and off we went to the park.

I stood in line next to the other children while our  parents stood with their child's kite. At the signal, each parent threw their child’s kite up into the air, and mine took off so fast it beat all of the other kites for that category. My dad never quite “got over” the fact our simple homemade kite had gone up against some very fancy kites and won. I got a certificate “suitable for framing,” which I think I still have stashed way somewhere.

And I am thinking of friends – including my dear cousin, whose father just died a few weeks ago– who are no longer buying Father’s Day cards, and am thankful that most of them can remember their fathers with joy in their hearts, and if not that, at least forgiveness.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The One-Hoss-Shay

One Sunday afternoon, it seems like an eternity ago now, but perhaps it was within the last month, I went to the hospital to visit my friend’s husband, who was recuperating in the ICU the day after the cardiologist had placed a stent in one of his coronary arteries to open a blockage. It wasn’t quite that simple, though. He was supposed to have had the procedure about a week earlier, but they had to cancel that one because another problem had cropped up in the results of the routine lab work the day before, and the cardiologist said they had to get to the bottom of that problem before they could do the stent. So, they had to schedule another diagnostic procedure, and during that test they did indeed discover what could have been contributing to the problem found in the lab work, but then they  found another problem they were not expecting at all which was most certainly life-threatening.

They gave him some blood transfusions and did the stent, and the team of doctors that had been assembled (two family practice doctors, a cardiologist, a general surgeon, an eventually, an oncologist) began collaborating to figure out which thing to treat first and how to do it, and they scheduled him for major abdominal surgery 2 days after the stent procedure to try to fix the second life-threatening problem.

My friend pointed out how much the situation with her husband reminded her of the poem The Deacon’s Masterpiece or The Wonderful One-Hoss-Shay ), written by the father of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, the Supreme Court Justice.
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah, but stay
I 'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,--
Have you ever heard of that, I say?
The poem goes on to talk about how the Deacon builds his carriage and how long it lasts, going and going and going, and it keeps on going and passes from person to person to person until it comes to its final owner, a Parson. And then, all of sudden and without warning…
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,--
And the parson was sitting upon a rock…
Everything falls apart at once, and it wasn't too much of a leap to see the similarities with my friend's husband.. It was just sort of mind boggling how all of these unfortunate medical things seemed to be happening to this lovely man all at the same time.

The abdominal operation the next day achieved what it set out to do, but there was some trouble getting him home to recuperate until one of the GPs finally came up with a solution to the problem being caused by one of the medications the general surgeon and the cardiologist were squabbling about.

He has started chemotherapy, and now we wait and see.

My friend was there for us when our world began to turn upside down in June 2010. And now here it is, 4 years later, and my friend’s world is now starting to tilt. It is a terrible coincidence. I hope with all my heart that her world rights itself, and that she does not have to go through what we did. I hope that I can be here for her now the way she was for me.