Thursday, January 2, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (January 2, Part 2)

We’ve been home almost 24 hours and still don’t have all of our suitcases unpacked. At least the van has been emptied and cleaned out. Our focus last night was the Rose Bowl game. Plus JoAnna was eager to get our kitchen cupboards and drawers reorganized as a result of our Christmas bonanza: new dishes, silverware, glasses, plasticware, etc. This morning Andy played his first basketball game of the season, giving us another reason to postpone putting our clothes away. This afternoon, JoAnna cleaned out and rearranged the rest of the kitchen cupboards, and I wrote a letter to my parents after going grocery shopping, something -- the shopping -- I wanted to do last night, but none of the local grocery stores were opened after 5:00. Since I didn’t want to make sandwiches out of a two-and-a-half-week-old loaf of bread (no mold in evidence), I ended up calling Pizza Hut. They could have doubled their prices last night and still done a land-office business. I was surprised they were able to deliver in less than 40 minutes.

Right now Andy and Eddie are with the Johnson boys, Alex and Rex. Both Meaghan and Matt were busy, a situation that Andy didn’t seem to mind as soon as I hooked up his Playstation unit to the family room TV. In a way, I was surprised he accepted Rex’s invitation to play. Real people, real activity are still an important part of his life. I would have been concerned if the video game had caused him to tune everything else out all afternoon.

During his basketball game, Andy didn’t look like he spent most of his Christmas vacation in a reclining position watching TV. He scored 2 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, contributing to a convincing 40-19 victory over a smaller Verona team. His team plays again tomorrow at 3:30. Isn’t that during the Packer game?

We had a wonderful visit in Pennsylvania, even though my dad really wasn’t a part of it. As a cousin of mine who visited my parents in October wrote on her Christmas card, “Parkinson’s is a cruel disease.” Not so much for the victim but for the family that has to watch this inexorably slow physical and mental deterioration. It breaks my heart to see my dad slumped in a chair, unconscious (I’m not sure if I can call it sleep), all day long, as he was this past Wednesday. Thursday he was more alert, which meant that he stayed awake for most of the day and even seemed to be following the storyline of The Glenn Miller Story, the movie JoAnna and I were watching on TV. At least his eyes were open and his face looked as though he was aware of his surroundings. After dinner, he spent an hour studying a pair of Andy’s wind pants that he had found on the living room carpet. Maybe the smooth, cool feel of the fabric fascinated him. He even attempted to put them on. JoAnna, Kim, Larry, Dale, Mom, and I were sitting around the dining room table and couldn’t help but laugh. Not out of cruelty. More to mask the pain of what has happened to this once vital and intelligent man. When we left the house Thursday night, our final departure, I had the sense that Dad didn’t know who I was as I bent down to kiss his cheek and squeeze his shoulder. Mom does her best to take care of him. Her biggest frustration and loss is not being able to communicate with her husband anymore. I wish I could remember just how she phrased it to me one day during our visit. His contributions to a conversation are surreal. One night he seemed to be counseling someone about the appropriateness of a home funeral. It had nothing to do with the lively chatter that the rest of us made It’s very likely he was repeating the exact words he spoke 30 or 40 years ago. During the week we spent in Warren, I made a note to myself to investigate the effects of the advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease. I want to get a better understanding of what is happening to Dad. At the same time, I hope to find some information that will make things easier for Mom. God forbid if anything happened to her, because I don’t think that Larry, Barb, and Dale, not individually, but all three of them together, are willing to provide the kind of care and attention that Dad requires. Mom look like she’s lost at least ten pounds since the summer. Both JoAnna and I couldn’t help but notice now baggy her slacks were when we arrived in Warren late Saturday afternoon. Fortunately, her energy level remains as high as ever. In that regard, she doesn’t skip a beat. She’s a very youthful 78 year old. 

Tara returned Boxer last night. You should have seen that cat when she opened the grapefruit box in which he was transported. He raced through the kitchen and bounded across the living room as if celebrating a major event in his life. He was obviously so happy to be home. The boys felt likewise, practically smothering him with affection. He joined JoAnna and me in bed during the Sugar Bowl game and padded up my right leg to my sternum at five o’clock this morning, tapping his right paw three times on my chest as if to say, “Time to get up, Daddy. I need my strokes.” I, too, missed Boxer, but not that much. I rolled over onto my stomach and slept until 7:00, when I returned to the Walkfit for the first time in two weeks.

I suppose you’re getting organized for your Arizona departure. When I look out the window right now, I can’t help but think, “They probably wish they left yesterday.” We are getting dumped on big time. And the wind is blowing the snow into tsunami drifts, which we haven’t bothered to shovel yet. Why bother? It’s still snowing. Watching the Weather Channel earlier today, I noted that the only warm places is the U.S. are southern Florida and a southwest arc of Arizona that looks like it includes Buckeye.

By the way, we have your address, don’t we? Otherwise I won’t know where to mail all the letters I plan to write to you. And I’m sure you want to stay up-to-date on all the events taking place in our lives, especially those of your grandchildren.

Stay tuned for Tri-County Basketball League updates, new artistic endeavors, the big job hunt, and expanded services at the Middleton Public Library. Thanks again for sharing such a wonderful Christmas with us.

We enjoyed our stay in Two Rivers and just the opportunity to do nothing if we were so inclined. Our busy family schedule requires putting life on hold every once in awhile.

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