19 June 2020

this week

This was the week it rained heavily, some basements were flooded. Not ours. Instead we had a burst pipe in the laundry at 2 am a couple of nights ago. Thanks to my weak bladder, which forced me to get out of bed that hour and eventually awake enough to realise that, no I was not listening to a mountain water fall, we caught it early and spent only a half hour or five turning off the mains and sweeping the puddles into the drain with whatever came handy before getting back to sleep - only joking, not much sleep.

Anyway, it's all fixed now and just before I could catch up on sleep, my father fell and fractured several bones in his leg or legs and now he had surgery and we cannot visit, or only my brother can, from a distance, and he probably will not walk again, not that he has been walking properly for years anyway. But this time round, we are looking at geriatric rehabilitation supposedly starting next week and care home because, in the words of the doctor who eventually was available by phone, the old man is currently very confused. No more living the life of Riley alone and fancy free. However, and this is the sleepless bit, care homes, even the fancy ones he deserves to spend his money on, are not open to new inmates because, you guessed it, the virus. My brother is all cool and, hey it's early days but seriously, I am a mess.

The weirdest thing is that the day before this happened, earlier this week, he called me outside of our schedule (which is unusual to say the least) and said a couple of very nice things to me about me, something he never ever does. He put down the phone in his normal abrupt way but it floored me somewhat. Because my mother, on the day I called her in hospital where 12 hours earlier she had heart surgery, she was sober and sweet and called me by my secret childhood name and said a couple of very nice things to me about me, something she had not done for 40+ years. And that night, her lungs collapsed and she lost her voice for ever and her dignity and eventually, after six hard months, she died in this excruciating, terrible, inhuman way that we are all afraid could happen again despite all the Living Wills we have at the ready.

I don't know why this song is in my head, but there it is. Nothing makes sense anyway.


  1. Anonymous19 June, 2020

    I'm so sorry to read about your dad's decline and the fall. Such a challenging time to be considering a care facility. Are you considering having him stay at home after the hospital and hiring a caregiver 24/7? Is that a possibility? I hope this all works out easily for everyone. The phone calls from your mom and your dad go straight to the heart. Thinking of you and hoping all of this works out easily for everyone. Thank you for the music.

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    1. I think it was too much and... misplaced. This is a tough time to be dealing with your father's decline, something which is tough enough as it is. but what a gift, these kind words, before it's too late. I don't know whether to wish him a speedy exit or a long one, either for your sake. I hope you find suitable arrangements for him without undue stress.

  3. Well, your instincts may be right. I know that after my mother fell and broke some ribs it was all downhill from there. She never was quite right in her mind after that and within a few weeks she was gone. If so, at least you have had a few words of sweetness from him and that does mean a lot. Sure didn't happen with my mom who spent her last days accusing me of horrible things.
    Oh, family.
    Whatever happens, I hope there is peace.

  4. My heart goes out to you and yours Sabine. The process of saying goodbye is not always quick and easy like we would all have it be. And in this time that is complex at best, even harder. Wishing you peace my friend.

  5. Sending love to you and your family. There is something in Tracy Chapman's voice that is good company in a time when nothing makes sense.

  6. I'm sad to hear about your father. I'm hoping for the best for you and your family. I'm also very sad that you are not able to see him.

  7. Oh dear, that's too bad about your father's situation. I hope it can all work out so he can have care and be ok with his health limitations. I am glad you've had some loving messages from both him and your mother before she passed.

  8. Oh gosh, a veritable threnody. With lots of unremitting detail. But what music could possibly alleviate those memories?

    Well there is one piece and we played it yesterday, juxtaposing it against the dull tread of The Plague. The circumstances are somewhat different but not entirely irrelevant.

    The former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, a count, as folk tended to be in the late eighteenth century, was often ill and passed many a sleepless night. He mentioned this to JS Bach, as you do, and good old Johann Sebastian, as you don't do, returned with one of the unchallenged masterpieces of Western music. An air with thirty variations which I, as a pathetic leftie of the old sort, am delighted to say was not toadyingly named after the count but possibly after the keyboard specialist who first played it. It is in my top five of all time - no, I lie; make that top three - and I have three versions (Gould, Freddy Kempf, Schiff). It lasts about an hour and there's not a single surplus note.

    It is of course the Goldberg. And if Germany ever needed to cite an indigenous work that proved the country's potential to be a civilising influence on world affairs this would do very nicely.

    If an hour's too long just play the air: simple, plaintive, and all the things you can ask of music. It is playing now in my head as I type this and I thank you - somewhat indirectly, somewhat tortuously - for being the most adjacent exemplar of German-ness. Or just living there. Near the Rhine (though I'd prefer Rhein). Despite the fact that you regard me as gullible (your especially wounding adjective) for liking German Christmas markets.

  9. My children have been talking about where I should live so they can take care of me. I'm still quite active and in my right mind ( at least I think so) so I don't think I'm ready to go just yet. But there it is. Facing the decline of our parents and then ourselves! Much kindness and love to you for all of it.

  10. Such sad news on top of everything. I hope you and your family find the right option and situation for your dad. It is always a heartbreak to have to figure these things out. We're in a similar situation in my family (but not with my parents) and the cloud of pain that takes over in the brain makes taking care of business a difficult thing. Much love to you. May you find moments of peace and clarity as you move through this.

  11. So often it seems that elderly people break something which turns into a cascade of bad things. Our bodies rely so much on a fine balance to keep everything running smoothly and as we age that fine balance becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. Confusion is also quite common with hospital stays as we age. I hope your father is not suffering and I'm so sorry. It is nice to be told something nice though.

    Sending hugs.

  12. Oh gosh, that's terrible about your dad.

    I love that Tracy Chapman song.