Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Critters!

This darling kitten, who's named Black Bart, lives with Dad and Fran's down-the-hall neighbor, Bill, who adopted him from the Humane Society. Bill likes to take Bart for walks, and Gary and I have met them several times before, but always in the building. Today, they were outside; Bart was on a leash that Bill had secured to a tree, so the kitten could explore a bit without getting away. It took some doing to get this photo, as Bart's camera-shy. Bill hasn't been able to get good pix of the cat, so I e-mailed him this one. Very fitting for the day, isn't it?

Earlier, I had an even more special treat. During my walk, I saw two gorgeous coyotes trot across the road right in front of me. They ran up a hill and stayed there for a moment -- poised, alert, sniffing the air -- and then, with a glance at one another, took off again in unision. I headed in the direction they'd gone to see if I could get a look at them again (and maybe get a photo), but although I heard yips in the brush, I never saw them. They were wild and alien, magical, and thus as fitting to Halloween as Bart was, although in a different way.

In more pedestrian news, today I got Dad's banking straightened out, paid his November rent (I'm listed on his account, so I can write checks for him), went by my local yarn shop to get a snarled project fixed (successfully!), and had a very nice visit with Dad, who'd had an equally nice visit with my friend Bonnie from church, who'd very kindly stopped by to see him.

I also spent a little time with one of Dad's neighbors in the nursing home, who'd been cruising the hallways in her wheelchair, announcing plaintively to anyone who looked at her, "I'm dying!" She pretty clearly has Alzheimer's, but she was just as clearly frightened, lonely, and desperate to tell a story no one was listening to, at least at that particular moment. So I went into chaplain mode, and listened long enough to extract a coherent narrative: she's afraid to die alone, and she wants to see her daughter, who lives several hundred miles away and is too busy with other family to visit. She'd like her daughter to be with her when she dies.

She liked holding my hand; she repeatedly reached for it, and then squeezed it. Sometimes she stroked my shoulder. She kept saying, "I know you're a good person," and, "I know you're busy," and, "thank you."

I ran all this past an uninterested nurse, who confirmed that there's a daughter in the specified town several hundred miles away, and told me that said daughter understands her mother's condition but is too busy with personal family matters -- "I can't tell you what they are, because of the privacy laws" -- to visit the nursing home.

I can imagine a lot of legitimate situations that could keep someone from visiting, but I also found myself wondering how much of the problem was inability to face a disintegrating parent. I've seen a lot of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer's simply abandoned at the hospital -- dumped in the ER by a spouse or grown child who then vanished -- because their families couldn't cope any more. I'm not sure I'd be able to cope in that situation either, but I hope this patient hasn't been abandoned that way. Either way, the situation's heartbreaking, and I'll try to talk to her for a few minutes every time I visit Dad.

Dad's hoping to get home by Wednesday. The nurses seem a bit skeptical, but I think it's great that he's so motivated. And I'm intensely grateful that he's mentally intact. I read him New York Times headlines from my Blackberry because he was starved for news. No Alzheimer's there, thank God!

Stomach bug update: Dad's better. Gary's mostly better, but weak. Fran's weak with periodic relapses. I am, so far, healthy.

Knock wood.


  1. Praise God for your health, Susan! You're the busiest of the bunch! Bart looks adorable. Those coyote sound awesome! Lucky you, to live in a place where you can see that kind of thing!


  2. Berni4:29 PM

    Cute kitty.

    Knowing how my dad went with the Alzheimer's, I understand families not going to visit. My father had my sister in tears every time she saw him in his last year. Finally he didn't recognize her. The last thing he said to my mother was "How did you get so old?"


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