I read my friend’s astrology blog on Saturday morning, and had a feeling of generalised dread about the week ahead, but thought I’d read it again once I had got through Saturday.
We’re having a new roof put on the house my step-father, Ed, lives in and it’s been an ordeal. Friday the roofers found some mystery electrical wire and were uncomfortable going ahead with the job until I had it checked out, so Saturday involved me working with patients whilst Bear was my eyes on the ground at the house.
Or so we thought.
When Bear got to the house, Ed wasn’t answering the door. He let himself in and discovered Ed had tried to get himself out of bed, into his wheelchair, and instead had fallen rather heavily. He’d managed to wedge himself into a space between some furniture, knock over the wheelchair and hit his head rather badly.
Bear is not a medical person at all, but he did everything right. He didn’t move Ed. He call the paramedics. He talked to Ed to keep him connected to reality. Of course, in between, he was having a small meltdown on the phone with me, but I think he deserved it.
And I was facing having just put TWO patients into rooms, one with needles already and one about to begin treatment. I kept asking if I should cancel my day, but Bear – backed by the paramedics – said no, it looks like he will be okay, just needs to go to hospital to get fluids and a look-see.
And so the day went. I’d pretty much get a patient set up for needles, or have just put them in, and Bear would call with an update. The final call was right before I finished with my last two patients, new to my clinic so I hope I was somewhat professional with them, during which I was on the phone with Bear, essentially in the room with Ed, whilst he died.
What – Ed’s DEAD? How did THAT happen? He was enjoying his cocktail and Mexican food just yesterday lunch, and now he’s dead?
So, that was Saturday. We went to the house, where Bear would NOT enter the master bedroom. I went in to take a look and it was not for the faint of heart. It began to look to me like Ed did more than just fall out of bed.
I made all the difficult phone calls, got the mortuary to take his body (oh, that was a stroke of luck. Because he hadn’t been admitted yet, it seemed that he would have to be a coroner’s case, going through an autopsy and possible having to wait MONTHS for results and a body and paperwork and all. After interviewing Bear & I the attending physician(s) determined this was natural causes and the coroner’s office concurred. Phew. I can’t imagine Ed, that energetic part that was/is him, would really care, but the Ed who was incarnated would have CRINGED at the thought of being autopsied.) and generally wandered around in a haze of anxiety, expecting someone to call and say “hah, this has been a test. Come pick Ed up at hospital”. Needless to say, that did not happen.
Sunday we approached in a very upbeat manner. My job 1 was to clean that bedroom so Bear could go in, which meant pulling a certain amount of carpet, as well as cleaning up all the tubes, packages and whatnots the paramedics left behind. Bear, newly freed from a weekly commitment that interfered with it, was to go re-join the Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles, then come help me out afterwards.
I started by appliance shopping. I can’t afford the electric bill for the ancient appliances in that house. It was easy, we’d just done our kitchen and we walked through the appliance stores, pointing and saying “that, that and that”. One of our “that’s” wasn’t happening because the opening in the house is bigger than the appliance we wanted, but there’s a larger size option so we’re back on track.
Back at the house, it was a bit of a mess, and I added to that as I schlepped items for donation from one room to another and girded my loins for the job at hand. I finally went in to clean up the area, and as I did so I became more & more convinced that Ed was having internal bleeding before he fell. The discomfort is probably what woke him and began this whole chain reaction.
I’ve never been more grateful to my Buddhist/Daoist teachings than I was Sunday.
And now it’s Monday, my to-do list, which has been expanding since my Mother died in January, is threatening to move in and demand its own bed, but the really uncertain things are behind me – will Ed move into a retirement community, will he need assisted living or hospice, will he fall, will he let me make an appointment with his primary care doctor and so on. Now it’s really concrete things – house repair (and there’s a lot of it, about a decades worth of deferred repair), getting a tenant into one of the houses, taxes, bills, wall paint, bushes and so on.
The dogs are great, it’s cool out with plenty of sunshine predicted for later and what’s not to love about life. On balance, both Ed and my Mom lived wonderful lives and I can’t begrudge them the ends of those lives, although I do wish they’d had a few more years together.