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.

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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.

Temper, Temperament, and Temperature

My life continues its bizarre and zigzagging path into chaos. I finally got my car back from the auto shop, and like a human, it paid me back for the kindness with a temper tantrum. (It is strange how often people treat badly those who do them a favor.) The accelerator cable got stuck when I was out doing errands today, and I had to drive back to the house at 5 miles per hour in second gear. It was almost humorous, actually, but it wouldn’t have been so humorous if I’d gotten reamed crossing a busy street at such a miniscule speed. The mechanic will come look at it later. Old cars are temperamental and have such peculiar things going wrong. This time it’s probably a spring. Or at least I hope it’s that innocuous.

fireBesides that, I’ve been getting into fights with everyone today, especially the men in my life. They think I should blindly accept whatever they say, and I don’t think I should. I suppose it’s possible I’m at fault, but it’s hard to believe that no matter who I talk to and about what, I’m in the wrong. I should be right about something, don’t you think? It seems impossible to be wrong in everything I say. (That’s why I like this blog. I can say whatever I want, and blithely continue on my life without everything turning into an argument.)

My father is still in the hospital, and he’s being more temperamental than usual. Every time I talk to him, he’s castigating me for something. Yesterday he was accepting of the possible need for a catheter for the rest of his life, but he was insistent that I get him out of there at that very moment. Wasn’t happy with me at all when I said we had to wait to find out what was going on. He did acquiesce to staying a bit longer when I reminded him that there were no pain medications at the house.

Today when I went to see him, he was upset with the idea of the catheter and refused to go home with it still inserted. He’d been having troubles with incontinence, and he said he didn’t mind my having to change his diapers if it got to that point. (Of course, he didn’t ask if I minded.) When I reminded him that the catheter was to drain his bladder, and that it was the full bladder that caused him pain, he got mad at me. He also said he was willing to stay in the hospital longer. Yikes.

I understand that he wants to be in control and that he thinks having a catheter means turning his body over to a machine, but he doesn’t seem to understand the realities of a 97-year-old body — that the body is in control. If it’s not working, it’s not working. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he will get the use of his bladder back. And maybe he will — luck is generally on his side.

Hundred degree temperatures don’t cool people’s tempers, but I’m trying to be as patient as I can. I hope the people I see are giving me the same courtesy.

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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.