The Gathering Forces

My sister is here helping take care of my 97-year-old father who seems to be declining. (I say “seems to be” because so far, every time I thought the end was nearing, he managed to find his way back to life.) A bit of a mystic, she claims benevolent spirits are gathering, though they aren’t telling her what they are doing or hope to accomplish.

It’s entirely possible that benevolent energy is in the air. Normally I spend quiet weekends running errands, walking, doing housework, but this weekend, I’ve been invited to four different social events. I feel like the belle of the ball, especially since my sister agreed — Cinderella-like — to look after our father while I am out gallivanting.

windThe forces of entropy also seem to be gathering. A window broke. That my brother has been banging on it for most of a year seems to escape him, and he can’t understand why it disintegrated. “I don’t know how that happened,” he told me. “I’ve been banging on it for a year, and it never broke before.” Decorative masonry is falling off the entryway supports. The two air conditioners broke down, each with a different problem. And now the hot water is gone.

I’m doing what I can to make the benevolent spirits feel welcome and at the same time staving off the destructive powers that are swirling around, though to be honest, I don’t really believe anything out of the ordinary is happening. I’ve made good friends, and the outings we have planned simply landed on the same weekend, and things do break down. (So do people break down, though I am holding up well considering how little sleep I got last night.)

I am worried about the immediate future, though. My father asked the urologist to take out the catheter, and now he gets up frequently to go to the bathroom. He is very frail, and we are afraid of his falling, but we can’t be with him every minute. Besides, if we were to get up every time he did, we would be worn out after just a couple of nights and would be no good to anyone. (Dealing with an aging parent, especially the authoritarian sort, is always difficult because to them, we are eternally the minions, and not very bright ones at that.)

Perhaps those benevolent spirits are here to give us all strength. Perhaps the forces of entropy will win in the end as they always do, and we will wind down like those old-fashioned mechanical toys. Or maybe I’m simply feeling the effects of sleeplessness.

Only the coming days will tell.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “The Gathering Forces”

  1. kencoffman Says:

    Oh, how damned familiar this sounds. Do the best you can and let the supreme being sort it all out.

  2. beccaswope Says:

    Just my personal comment, but…do NOT drive your brother anywhere without someone else in the car. I have had experience trying to drive with someone with his problems, and they WILL try to grab the steering wheel out of your hands and will NOT understand why that is NOT a good idea. I heartily recommend having somebody else in the car, preferably a very strong hardy orderly-type, and sitting right next to your brother IN THE BACK SEAT. As I said just my 10 cents.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      He told me today he wouldn’t let me drive him, so perhaps I won’t have to take him. I still have to deal with him here though. Cripes. This is such a nightmare.

  3. Morguie Says:

    This is going to sound idiotic…surely you’ve tried to get Father to pee into a bedside urinal? That might save issue with the worry of his falling in frequent trips to bathroom…
    Good luck to you, at any rate.

  4. ShirleyAnnHoward Says:

    If you have no objection, Pat, I’ll offer a prayer for peaceful hearts for you and your family.

  5. ShirleyAnnHoward Says:

    P.S. Keep writing those blog posts. You’re going to be legendary for proving the value of journaling.

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