Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (January 22)

It 5:15 on a Friday afternoon, what a great time of the week, especially when I can look over the past five days and feel that I accomplished everything I wanted to do. At least at work, that is. The house is in a state of disarray, a situation JoAnna and I will probably address tomorrow. Now that both boys come home right after school, they have more time to trash the place, legos here, toy soldiers there, the signs of their presence everywhere. “Clean up this mess!” is an order that JoAnna and I frequently bark.

The house was quiet when I returned home from the library, which struck me as odd since both boys were supposed to be here. They didn’t run off somewhere, to Meaghan’s house, I wondered. 

Walking through the living room, I noticed that the bathroom door was closed. As I knocked, I announced my presence,

“Hello, I’m home. Who’s in there?”

“It’s me, Dad,” Andy replied.

“Where’s Eddie?” I asked.

“In the bathroom,” I thought he said.

“What Eddie doing in there?” I demanded, my hand about to reach for the door handle.

“In the back room,” he said, carefully enunciating the last two words.

“I didn’t see him there.”

“Well, maybe he’s in the other bathroom.”

That’s where he was.

Eddie called out to me as I walked back into the kitchen. Then he started to describe the details of a picture of an airplane in a book that he was browsing through. His voice was muffled so I couldn’t hear every word he spoke, so I resorted to standard responses like “That’s interesting” or “Cool!”

JoAnna’s had a busy day. In fact, she’s had a busy week. In fact, she’s been very busy ever since she agreed to plan Shirley Abrahamson’s re-election campaign to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. You should be very proud of your daughter. Her name is always at the top of the list of progressive candidates when a campaign manager position needs to be filled. Both Russ Feingold and Rick Phelps wanted her to take on that responsibility in their respective campaigns, i.e. Senate re-election and 2nd Congressional election. She declined both times because she knew she’d have no family life. It was the right decision – both times. In this case, though, JoAnna is freelancing, signing on for three weeks, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Shirley extends her contract for a week or two. So far, JoAnna hasn’t heard anything from the Department of Justice regarding the Legislative Liaison position, which has her name written all over it. Jim Doyle told her that the position wouldn’t be filled until sometime in March.

I just returned from dropping off Andy at his basketball practice. Eddie’s in the bathroom again. I hope everything’s OK. JoAnna and I came down with colds last weekend. Both of us had scratchy throats Saturday morning and from there it progressed to an achy body and runny nose. Neither of us missed any work this week, although I was definitely still on the mend on Monday. Since Tuesday, I’ve just been waiting for my head to clear. I think I have another day or two to reach that goal. Andy stayed home from school Wednesday morning. He was in an ornery mood on Tuesday, probably due to his feeling out of sorts. He wouldn’t get out of bed for band practice, which starts at 7:20 at Kromrey Middle School. We may have been a little harsh with him considering the circumstances, at least from the vantage point of the end of the week, but JoAnna and I told him – no band, no Playstation for a week. We also had an argument over bringing his trumpet home from school, which he routinely refused to do.

“I don’t like carrying it,” he regularly complains.

We talk to him about responsibility, following through on commitments he has made, which probably sounds like so much blah blah blah to him. Maybe not, though. During a Tuesday afternoon outburst, while I was home during a late afternoon break from a long day at the library, Andy was sent to his room and ended up tidying up the bookcase headboard of his captain’s bed. 

He’s still reachable, I told myself. He’s not a teenager yet, in mind or spirit.

Eddie participated in his second annual Pinewood Derby last night. Once again our model couldn’t sprint to the finish line. We were one ounce above the five-ounce legal limit, and it showed in the home stretch. We always got off to a good start on the slope but ran out of gas on the flat homestretch. Once again, Eddie won “Best Overall Design, which I think should go to Dad. I admit that Eddie created his design on paper, but I sawed and sanded the block, and then reminded Eddie every day for ten days, “You need to put the primer coat of paint on your car,” “You need to paint your car,” “You need to put the decals on your car.” “You need to put the wheels on your car.” 

“Dad, you’re taking this too serious,” was his usual response.

Not as serious as many other dads, it appeared to me as I saw the line-up of cars on weigh-in day. Our entry was the result of two to three hours of work. Some of the cars, though, looked as though they had been designed by professionals, untold hours of planning, design, and development.

I’m sure you’re eager to hear about the weather in Wisconsin. Earlier this week, we had close to a foot of snow on the ground, which since Wednesday has dissolved to half that depth due to a couple days of rain. Everything looks so ugly now. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d actually prefer another foot of snow. It’s Wisconsin. It’s January. I can live with it. For this weekend, the weather sounds like it can’t make up its mind, a mixture of rain and snow in the forecast.

News flash. I just realized that my parents’ anniversary – their 54th – is on the 26th, just four days away. I haven’t bought them a card, so any greeting from us won’t arrive on time, so I’ll have to make sure I order flowers tomorrow. This anniversary offers an interesting perspective. Four years ago, on my parents’ golden anniversary, the celebration was kept lowkey, since by that time, the Parkinson’s had kept my dad pretty much housebound. I know the members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, my dad’s parish for 24 years, would have loved to honor my parents with a reception, but Dad was already past the point of dealing with crowds of people.

I did a little research on Parkinson’s after we returned from our recent trip to Warren. It said that those who suffer from this disease can only focus on one activity at a time. For example, this morning, while I was brushing my teeth, I noticed some hairs of JoAnna’s in the sink, so without stopping the movement of my right arm, I grabbed a kleenex with my left hand and wiped the sink clean. Someone with Parkinson’s can’t do that. I suppose it’s the same with conversations and room noise. If there is numerous conversations going on at one time or people talking with the TV droning in the background, nothing makes sense. This, of course, is a layman’s interpretation of a disease I don’t know that much about. A few weeks ago, I kept asking myself, “What really goes on inside the mind of a Parkinson’s sufferer?”, as I observed Dad in his pitifully debilitated state. So far I haven’t been able to find much about someone who is an advanced stage of the disease, which is definitely where my dad is.

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