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.

Becoming the Vibrant Person You Will Remember Being

I woke feeling tired today. Even though I would just as soon have lounged around all morning doing nothing, I got dressed, took a walk, and now I’ve turned on the computer to work on this blog post. After having watched my life mate/soul mate push through the impossible exhaustion of dying from cancer in order to do something, anything each day and now watching my father dealing with the infirmities of old age, including being unutterably weary all the time, I understand the truth. No matter how tired I feel today, in twenty years, I will look back on this time in my life as one of strength and vibrancy, and in thirty years, I will look back at this time as one of incredible youthfulness.

As I mentioned in a previous post, current research by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows that while we can see how much we have changed in the past, we never think we will change in future. But this isn’t always true. There does come a time when we know that our advancing years will bring many changes. We know we will not always be feeling the way we do today.

Someone who is dealing with an enervating illness or the weariness of old age, for example, will no longer have an interest in physical activities such as bungee jumping. (Of course, it won’t take old age to rid me of such interests since I don’t have any to begin with. Even if I wanted to participate in such daredevilish activities, my body has a strong sense of self-preservation that simply would not let me step into nothingness.)

Dwelling on the future is as futile as dwelling on the past and brings about as much satisfaction — none. And even if you know what changes will be coming, they probably will not be exactly as you imagined (and maybe you won’t be exactly as you imagined, either), so there is no point in thinking about it. But. . . being aware of a future where you will look back on the person you are today as one who is vibrant and youthful has its advantages. It allows you to do what you want to (or need to) despite your tiredness, and in so doing, become the vibrant person the future you will remember being.

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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+