Selah

Sunset on a Season

We made it to the end of Cor’s first year of high school soccer. And I have to say it was a good year for him! He started most games for the JVB team, and was also a regular, solid contributor on the JVA team. He scored five goals for the season, and he added three assists, as well. And honestly, even from a parental / spectator’s standpoint, we had pretty favorable weather conditions throughout the season. We also had fun hanging out with the other soccer families a few times each week.

Sunset on a Season

Honestly, though, I’m glad that we’ve gotten to a stopping point. An interlude. The Old Testament book of Psalms regularly interjects a word that’s hard to define or translate: “Selah.” But from what I understand of the word, it seems to capture some of what I’m feeling. It’s a moment to rest, to soak, and to add meaning to all the activity on either side of the word. And this week has felt like that.

In addition to the end of Cor’s soccer season, this week served as a sort of “Finisher’s Village” at the end of H2O’s six-week sprint to kick off a new school year. After our Fall Retreat, we go to Beckwith Orchards for some pie and story-telling. It’s another way to reflect and celebrate. We soak in the moment together. And I honestly think that it’s one of the healthiest things we do, as a church.

Interns Apple Chucking

Our H2O student-interns got in on the action the day after the staff team — with another trip to Beckwith, along with some bonus apple-chucking. And I hope they were able to learn that ministry is not just running ourselves into the ground “for the sake of Jesus.” We worship God when we rest, because us taking our hands off the “steering wheel” is the way that we show the world how God is in control. Not us.

This year, the end of Cor’s soccer season and the end of our busy ministry season happened to coincide with Kent State University’s Fall Break. So that’s an extra bonus. Hopefully, we’ll all come back from this week refreshed, recharged, and ready to see what happens next.

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Kent State University Enrollment Figures for the 2021-22 School Year

The Record-Courier just published some statistics about the student body at Kent State University. And that report reminded me to look up the standard 15th Day Report published by the University itself. I thought it would be interesting to list some of the noteworthy figures here. I personally find it interesting to track these sorts of figures. They help me to better understand the “mission field” in which I’m working as a “missionary” on campus.

25,630 Students in Kent

The Record-Courier article noted that enrollment figures are up by four percent this year. That seems to be in contrast to the declining figures at many universities in the United States. Still, I notice that we’re still below some of the records set in the 2013-14 school year (and perhaps in subsequent years, which I haven’t recorded). I’m not too discouraged by that, though, because — depending upon one’s source — there are either 25,630 students (according to the Record-Courier) or 27,019 students (according to the University’s 15th Day Report) at the main campus of Kent State University. Neither figure seems to be factoring in extension sites, though. Still a very significant mission field!

4,991 Freshmen Students

The Record-Courier did not post any statistics specific to the number of incoming freshmen. The 15th Day Report, however, said that there are 4,991 students in their first year of study at Kent State University. Which actually strikes me as larger than usual. The Record-Courier also noted that the high school GPA of the incoming freshmen continues to climb: now at 3.5. And the Honors College at the University continues to grow, too. Seemingly another sign of health in the Kent State University system.

1,370 International Students

The Record-Courier reported that international student enrollment is up by 7.3 percent, which is also encouraging. After the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump administration’s more restrictive immigration policies, I’ve noticed that it just feels more international here in Kent, again. And that makes me happy.

In any event, I’m challenged and encouraged to consider the strategic ministry opportunities represented by these numbers.

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H2O Fall Retreat 2021

There’s really no such thing as “just another day at the office” in my line of work. Because people are complicated. And spiritual development is supernatural, by nature. But, perhaps most of all, college ministry is weird — especially when it comes to our annual Fall Retreat!

So it just so happens that sometimes it’s my job to check COVID-19 vaccination cards and/or test results. And then sometimes, I need to educate students on public health measures for the sake of creating a safe space for group interaction: like, “Thank you for sending the picture of your vaccination card! I noticed, however, that you just got your shot this week — so you won’t actually be fully protected by the vaccine for a couple of weeks. Would you be willing to also get a test, to make sure that you’re in the clear?

Other times, my job is to pinpoint the maximal distance of a seed or shard of pumpkin shell, as measured from the starting line of a Punkin’ Chunkin’ contest. All for the sake of getting students to relax and let down their guard.

Sometimes, it’s my job to wear a ridiculous costume — and to encourage other Staff and students to do the same. For the sake of building community.

And other times, my job is to guide a student through a decision to get baptized. My role is to study the Bible together and watch the emotions well up in the student’s heart. All for the sake of gospel proclamation. But even then, with such “standard pastoral responsibilities,” it’s always unique. This weekend, it was unique because the rain was pouring down on the tent canopy above us and a raucous crowd of other students were singing and dancing a short distance beyond us in a sopping wet mosh pit during our Late Night Glow-Stick Dance Party.

I’ve got an unusual job. But I love it. And I’m happy to say that this year’s H2O Fall Retreat was a success! We had about 180 students, and it just felt big again: a sharp contrast to the way things went last year. The weather was mostly overcast, with a few showers passing through — but the rain was pretty minimal, nothing to dampen the overall spirit.

The COVID protocols didn’t end up being a big deal, thankfully. The sessions went according to plan. We hit our marks, leaving space for the LORD to do His thing. And he did. Six people proclaimed faith in Christ by baptism, including a student named Morgan from the Centennial region (which I coach). Tighter relationships were formed.

Fall Retreat things happened at this year’s Fall Retreat. So maybe it was “just another day at the office.” But it’s a good office. And after a year and a half of so much chaos and disruption, there’s something to be said for “just another day at the office.”

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Running with Grace

Grace is a good writer, a good runner, and a good friend. So I wanted to share a piece that she just recently posted, called Church on the Run.

It’s fun — and insightful — to hear her perspective on our Saturday morning running group. I feel similarly enriched by this weekly rhythm. And I agree with Grace’s mash-up of Christian community and athletic endurance:

Being a part of a church community, I’ve learned, looks a lot like Saturday morning long runs. Sometimes the conditions are optimal, other times you have to endure some harsh weather that causes literal blood, sweat, and tears. Some days the course is easy and flat, other times you must grit your teeth and count on your friends to help encourage you up the hill. Some days your stride feels strong, other days you barely make it through the miles. Some days you have wisdom to offer, other days, only more questions. To be a part of a church community is all of these things: we take on the good and the bad, the triumphant and the painful, and we take it on together.

Grace also references Eugene Petersen’s book, The Pastor — which is also one of my favorites. And she references the New Testament book of Hebrews, which is an absolute gem. So I don’t know how else to herald her post. I just recommend that you follow the link and give it a read.

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Perspective from Psalm 103

I got some peace and perspective in the woods of Geauga County this morning. I visited three of the county’s smaller parks: Eldon Russell Park, the Wild Calla Kettle trails at the Burton Wetlands, and the Russell Uplands Preserve. And they were genuinely lovely. It’s just the time of the year when they’re starting to put on their autumn show. All bright yellows and oranges and tans. So it felt like a walk in the woods was important to recover from some recent emotional challenges. And also to emotionally- and spiritually prepare for the Fall Retreat coming up this weekend.

As I started walking at Eldon Russell Park. I watched the newly-risen sun filter through the lovely leaves. And I suddenly remembered a phrase from the Psalms: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me!” I looked it up on my phone and discovered that the old memory fragment was the King James Version of Psalm 103:1. And when I read the rest of the Psalm (in the New Living Translation), it seemed even more evident that God was speaking to my soul.

I especially appreciated the reminders of the way that the whole body is involved with praising and giving glory to the LORD. “Let all that I am praise the LORD” (verse 1). “He fills my life with good things” (verse 5). “The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly” (verse 6). “He rules over everything” (verse 19). “Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom” (verse 22). The thought occurred to me that even if I happen to be the “colon” of the Body of Christ — which seems like an undesirable position — I am in a good place.

The colon is a more obscure part of the body. It’s not a “glorious” organ. In fact, it’s quite stinky! But even though the colon has to deal with a lot of crap (a highly-intentional pun), it plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy. It works to keep the body regular, in rhythm. It eliminates toxins. And it definitely contributes to overall body health!

So I feel encouraged to play my part, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so. I’m a part of the Body of Christ! And that fills my life with good things. Even if I do sometimes feel like I’m treated unfairly, the LORD is there to give righteousness and justice where it’s needed. I knew that truth previously. But I felt that truth out on the trails today. And I’m full of gratitude and renewed commitment to play my part in the Kingdom of God.

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Tricks

The past four days were a highly educational experience for me. A crazy coincidence of circumstances made it so that our household needed to care for two aging parents at the same time: my Dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease, and Marci’s Dad, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. And while it’s genuinely an honor and a privilege to be able to do this, we had a steep learning curve. But we have learned. As with any life skill, there are tricks to the “trade” of caring for aging parents. And I want to share them: both for my own future reference and for the sake of others who may benefit from this kind of information.

Changes in Scenery

One of the things that I noticed while hanging out with my Dad was the way that periodic changes in scenery can be really helpful. Most people tend towards inertia. But especially care-givers. It just feels easiest to stay at home — where everything is familiar, accessible, on hand… I remember this feeling from the time when my kids were little, and I recognized it again looking out for my Dad.

So it’s kind of counter-intuitive; still, I totally believe it’s beneficial to mix things up — especially in a care-giving situation. With my Dad, it was going for walks. Sometimes we drove to a nearby park or nature preserve. Other times, we just went out to check the mail or walk around the block. But either way, the changes in scenery seemed to invigorate us both.

Riding the Waves of Parkinson’s

I took Dad with me to Cor’s soccer game on Saturday, and I was amazed to see how sharp and fresh he seemed to be during our time at the stadium. It honestly seemed like he somehow had an “extra gear” that he can find in certain situations? He made jokes with the ticket lady… He recognized some of our close family friends immediately, and offered his gentlemanly greetings… He leaped over a railing to make his way, independently, to the concession stand and public restrooms… Several of the other soccer-parents noticed how he’s moving much better during this Fall’s Soccer Season than he was moving during last Spring’s Track season.

On the drive back to Kent, however, Dad seemed more confused again. He had a harder time finishing his sentences… He asked me where I live… He started asking again about when Mom is coming back… It kind of seemed like he somehow pulled himself together for the soccer game and then was operating at a deficit afterwards.

I don’t understand Parkinson’s well enough to base an entire treatment plan around such anecdotal evidence, but it really does seem like we had to surf the disease — riding its waves over time and adjusting to the needs of the moment. That’s not always easy, of course. But it helped me to have this mental framework for the times when it felt scary or overwhelming.

Using Technological Shortcuts

Technology can be very frustrating for older adults. But it can also be very helpful. One of the tricks, or shortcuts, we learned this weekend was how to use the Shortcuts app on my Dad’s phone to make his life easier.

I had actually been coaching my Dad through the process of opening up his phone, clicking on the phone icon, clicking to “Favorites,” and then hitting my name to place a call to me. Part-way through the practice session, though, it occurred to me that there has to be an easier way. With a little bit of internet research, I figured out how to make it so it’s super-easy for my Dad to call me (and/or my Mom) if he ever needs help. It took a few minutes to set things up, but I was able to establish an easy way to make a new icon on the Home Screen that has a picture of me with the words “Call Eric” right underneath.

All he has to do is hit that button, and he can get a hold of me. We ended up making a second shortcut that he could use to call my Mom. And it just feels so helpful for him to be able to do this so easily.

We also figured out that it was helpful for my Dad to have a plain black background on his phone’s home screen (instead of a prettier, more intricate photographic background). Seemingly anything we can do to reduce complexity and enhance clarity was appreciated. So I’m eager to keep looking for other “tricks” like that.

Suggestion Box

I hope that we will continue to learn and grow together, as we get more repetitions under our belts. If anyone reading this post has other ideas, I’d love to hear them!

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Rhythm and Regularity

Dad seems to be doing a good bit better, since the struggles of Thursday. He’s been much less agitated. More in rhythm. He says he hasn’t been seeing people. And I’d say he just has a calmer demeanor. More like the Dad I’ve known for most of my life.

He woke up yesterday morning with an eagerness to make breakfast. The best option that we could find in the pantry was a box of mix for Krusteaz Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins. So he started the process, but he looked to me to finish it. Honestly, I don’t care much for baking in the morning… but it has been my Dad’s hallmark for years. So, in retrospect, it seemed to be one of those steps towards rhythm and regularity — and I’m glad we got to do that together.

After breakfast, Dad said it was time for him to take a nap. On the way into his bedroom, he paused at the door and said, “I am very, very grateful that you are willing and able to help.”

After his nap, I took Dad to his Physical Therapy appointment. He took a shower… Had another nap… Called my Mom and caught up with her… Ate some Spaghetti-O’s with Meatballs for lunch. It felt like a much more realistic look into the feel and flow of long-term care.

During one of my Dad’s afternoon naps, I pause for some self-reflection. And I notice how it already feels like we’ve settled into a sort of detente. I’m not actually slammed with care-giving responsibilities at all times. But I am tired and uninspired. Even when Dad is napping, I feel like I’ve only got the emotional strength for little projects done in little spurts. I work on translating some of the Gospel of Mark… check my email… take some notes on what’s been happening… do the crossword puzzle for today. It feels like I’m in a hospital waiting room. But I don’t really have anything that I’m waiting for.

Why don’t I start working on the October prayer letter that I need to write? Or maybe finish up the reimbursements that need to be submitted for August and September? Why don’t I work on the notes for the message that I need to preach this Sunday? I think I don’t start any of these projects because I don’t know how long of a runway I’ll have for take-off.

It occurs to me that this must be how my Mom, and my Mother-in-Law, and all care-givers must feel. It’s not a horrible life. But it’s a different life from the freedom that I’ve come to appreciate through later adulthood, with older children.

At one point in the afternoon, I told Dad that he seems much calmer. Not nearly as agitated as the previous day. (For instance, he hadn’t been out to check the mail once!). He agreed that he feels more calm, and he said it’s because he finally worked out in his mind that “Jan (my Mom) is not here”, and “Eric is here.”

A little while later, there was a moment when I realized that I didn’t actually know what he was doing in his office, but he seemed to be happy. I heard him whistling snatches of “Joy to the World” and a couple other melodies. And that made my heart happy to know that he was happy. Later in the afternoon, we decided to go for another excursion to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather! This time we drove up Diagonal Road into Geauga County and eventually meandered to a nature preserve called the Burton Wetlands. Dad and I walked about a quarter of a mile to Lake Kelso, enjoyed the view for a little bit, and then walked back to the car.

When we got back into Kent around 3:30 PM, there were some little “fires” to be put out with my kids (though fortunately, nothing serious). Things were going so well at that point that I decided to let Dad try hanging out at home by himself, while I tended to business at home. It made me a little bit anxious to be gone from Dad for that long. But fortunately, when I got to his place — a little after 5:00 PM, everything seemed to be all right. He was in his office. He may have been a little confused about needing some help to find something or do something… but as I tried to question him further, he gave up trying to complete his thought.

Our friends, Chad and Brooklyn came over around 6:15 PM with a Mexican feast to serve our family: beef enchilada casserole, chips and guacamole, Mexican Coke and bottled margaritas, and lemon bars for dessert. It was an amazing meal that reminded me of the amazing benefits of our extended, spiritual, family. Later in the evening, Cor and I gathered our things for a “Slumber Party” at my parents’ place. My Dad said he was hungry, so he ate a couple bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch while we watched a high school football game on ESPN2 between Mentor and Medina. It was actually kind of chill and fun. When Medina went up by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, we decided we didn’t want to watch any more football. So we decided to call it a night.

It seems like we all slept more soundly after a day of rhythm and regularity. And I’m thankful for the promise of another day with my Dad.

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Out of the Frying Pan…

Heimwee

Yesterday evening, when my brother-in-law, my nieces, and my nephew came over to my Dad’s house for their Pizza-and-Movie Night, it allowed me to drive home and reconnect with my family for a little bit. I found myself looking forward to the respite. Unfortunately, though, it turned out to be one of those classic “Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire” situations. Because a crazy coincidence of circumstances meant that Marci’s Dad had just arrived to our house a few minutes before I arrived.

And as bad as things were with my Father, things were considerably worse with my Father-in-Law.

Marci had him parked in front of the TV when I arrived, but she said he was pretty weepy, saying he wanted to go home. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go home because his wife (my Mother-in-Law) was suffering from a blocked kidney and preparing to go into emergency surgery the next day. Ross has Alzheimer’s Disease, and we were actually already thinking in the direction of having him for a “Sleepover” sometime soon. We had wanted to help ease the burden on my Mother-in-Law. But her health situation shifted that “want” to a “need” very suddenly. So Marci had gone down to Richland County to pick up her Dad earlier in the afternoon, while I was in Kent with my Dad.

He actually did better than expected on the car ride back from Richland County. Marci played him some hymns, and he seemed to enjoy the music. But about three-quarters of the way to Kent, he started crying and saying he wanted to go home. Marci asked, “Home to the Farm? Or home to Jesus?” He responded by saying, “Yeah.”

His face was still tear-stained when I found him watching “News 5 Cleveland” from the arm-chair in our Family Room. Marci suggested that I should introduce myself / remind him who I was (he doesn’t seem to recognize any of us). So I greeted him. And when he looked into my eyes, he started a non-stop repetition of the phrase: “I wanna go home, I wanna go home, I wanna go home…”

I tried to distract him with suggesting a walk… raking leaves… picking up acorns… fixing the Bandaids that were coming off of his fingers… looking together at a Word Find… trying to get back to watching the news on TV… But nothing worked for long.

His crying seemed to come in waves, and he really only stopped when he tuckered himself out. When it felt appropriate, I would remind him, “We’re going to get you home as soon as we can, Ross… We just need to give Louise some time to get better… We’re taking care of you… You’re going to be OK…” Honestly, though, it seemed to work best when I just sat close and provided minimal feedback.

He refused to eat dinner, once it was prepared. Apparently, he seemed to think it would be some kind of concession to staying. So he just stood beside the Dining Room Table, crying, and he kept saying that he wanted to go home. It was relentless.

We spent most of the evening in our Family Room, watching TV. Ross’s waves of weeping seemed to get a little bit smaller and further apart as the evening wore on. But he never fully settled. The only real moment of calm happened while watching an episode of “The Incredible Dr. Pol” — which seemed to capture Ross’s attention at least a little bit — and he consented to eating a bowl of crumbled graham crackers and milk (one of his comfort foods, recommended by my Mother-in-Law). During this phase of the evening, we tried tamping down the “I wanna go home”s with more simple, more calloused “We know”s and “We hear you”s. And it kind of worked.

Until bed time.

We tried to get Ross in bed around 8:30 PM, but he resisted strenuously. He ramped up his rounds of “I wanna go home” with higher volume and faster repetition. His cheeks were covered with tears. His nose and mouth were covered with mucous. Marci and I tried to coax him towards the bed. But then he started pushing hard, trying to force his way out of the bedroom. My brain did the calculation that I was strong enough to physically overcome him. Still, we decided to let him come back downstairs to rest on the couch in our Family Room and hopefully allow him (and Marci) to catch some fitful sleep before the morning.

There was no ideal situation for the overnight. My Dad’s state of agitation made it seem unwise to leave him by himself. So I thought about bringing my Dad to sleep in the bed that Ross refused to sleep in — just in case I needed to provide back-up for Marci at some point in the night. At the same time, we worried that so much shuffling would further agitate both Dads. So ultimately, we decided that I would sleep at my parents’ house (to help my Dad in case he woke up confused) — and Marci would keep vigil with her Dad (probably in the Family Room).

It was an uneasy feeling to say good-bye to Marci, but I left around 8:45 PM and drove back over to Cottage Gate.

Fortunately, I learned this morning that Ross and Marci made it through the night. He slept an hour or two at a time. But he was still unsettled enough that Marci needed to recruit Olivia to sit with her grandfather while Marci taught her 5:30 AM VIP Kid class online. We’ve decided that it’s impossible to keep Ross in Kent beyond the morning. So she’s taking him back to Richland County now. She plans to stay there with him until Louise is back on her feet. It’s not an ideal scenario, but we’re making it work. Because that’s how family works.

Our kids have been extra-flexible to help. Our siblings have been doing everything they can to offer practical and emotional support. We’re leaning on our spiritual family here in Kent, too. So I have great hope that we’ll get through this. But man! We’re learning a lot in a very little time-frame.

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A Day with Dad

I’ve known for some time that I’d be spending some extra time with my Dad this week, as my Mom travels to visit her sister in Minnesota. He’s six years into his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, so I’ve also known that his needs for care have been increasing. But I didn’t really know how how much care he needed. Or how much he’d be agitated by my Mom’s absence. Until today.

My Mom left for the airport around 8:00 AM in the morning. And by 8:30 AM, my Dad had already called 9-1-1, panicked about seeing people in the house who weren’t actually there. The authorities checked in with my Dad and then called my Mom, who reassured them that he’d be all right — but she wanted to make sure that I was heading that way as soon as possible.

As soon as I entered the front door, he welcomed me to have a seat at the dining room table. He said he wasn’t expecting me, but I reminded him that I planned to hang out around the house for most of the next few days. He told me that there were other people at the dining room table with him. People that he knew “from basketball and other places like that.” He acknowledged that they weren’t the same as real flesh-and-blood visitors, but he said that they “exist.” When I asked if he could see them or hear them or what, he said that he could see them. But I couldn’t see them, so I chose to ignore them and suggested that my Dad should do the same.

After some further conversation, Dad said he wanted to take a nap. And that nap became the first of several. Never longer than 30 minutes. When he was napping, I was able to get a little bit of work done: preparing to officiate a wedding ceremony next week… answering text messages and emails… starting to write our October prayer letter… But that was really only when he was napping. And he wasn’t napping for considerable lengths of time.

When he was awake, Dad filled his time with checking on things. He walked half a block down to his condominium complex’s central mailbox to check the mail four times before it finally arrived. His mailbox key got lost twice, so we had to spend some time checking on that, too. After the mail was gathered, he shifted his attention to checking on the trash and recycling bins. And after he determined that he could wheel the bins back into the garage, he shifted to checking the front door for the arrival of my brother-in-law, my nieces, and my nephew (knowing that they were coming to have a Pizza-and-Movie Night with him).

He had an anxious energy about him for most of the time that he was awake. Sometimes, I was able to distract him with a TV show. But even then, he did a lot standing, sitting, pacing… It was hard to see him so restless.

So after a simple lunch of canned soup, I suggested that we should go on an excursion! Maybe driving to Towner’s Woods and listening to Sibeleus’s 5th Symphony (one of Dad’s favorites) on the way. He seemed to like that idea. And indeed, as the music swelled and filled the cabin of my Honda Civic, Dad waved his hands as if to conduct the invisible orchestra (which is something that he’s always done when listening to orchestral music). 

After arriving at Towner’s Woods, we walked from the parking lot to the Hopewell Mound overlooking the lake. And I was surprised to see that Dad’s walking form was quite strong. If anything, he walked a little too quickly for my liking. He didn’t seem at all tired on the way back to the parking lot, so I asked if he wanted to walk some more and see the Butterfly Meadow. He actually expressed a pretty significant amount of enthusiasm (for a guy with Parkinson’s) about that idea. So we hiked that direction, and again Dad didn’t seem at all tired. If anything, he seemed invigorated. We sat for a little while at a bench in the meadow. And it wasn’t until we were halfway back to the parking lot from the meadow that he indicated any level of fatigue. 

When we got back to the house, however, Dad was definitely ready for another nap. And when he sat up — exactly thirty minutes later — he said that he had a really nice rest. He did, however, ask “Who’s in the front closet?” He didn’t seem too bothered, and I reassured him that there was no one or nothing there except for a bunch of coats, he seemed to relax pretty quickly. A couple of minutes later, he looked up at the ceiling and said, “I love you, hon.” I responded by saying, “I love you, too.” And then he looked at me to ask “Where’s Jan?” I told him that she was visiting Jayne, and he replied, “Oh yeah. That’s right.”

The most unsettling aspect of caring for my Dad has been seeing how unsettled he often is. Particularly with seeing things that aren’t there. He seems to have some awareness of his confusion, anxiety, and agitation. And at one point in the middle of the afternoon, he said, “I’m floating…” and made some arm motions like he was treading water, trying to keep his head above water. A little while later, Dad walked up to the dining room table and asked, “Who do we have here?” When I assured him that nobody was sitting there, he said “Oh, boy. I’m really seeing things.”

So he’s not an uncooperative “patient.” Still, the care-giving has been more intense than I thought it would be. I haven’t felt free to leave him at home by himself because he seems to default to confusion and panic. Even while I’ve been here, he’s made a couple of random, confused, phone calls. So it seems clear that he could easily decide to call 9-1-1 again. Consequently, my day with Dad will also become a night with Dad. But I’m glad that we’ve got a relatively workable situation here in Kent. This new phase of life is definitely challenging, but it just seems to be where we’re at. We will continue to walk by faith, just as we’ve done through other phases of life. So help us, God.

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Homecoming 2021

Olivia went to the Kent Theodore Roosevelt High School Homecoming Dance this weekend. And she was lovely. She bought her dress from a thrift store and did much of the alteration herself.

She went with a couple of friends, and they were lovely, too. Brigid, Grace, and their parents came over to our house for pictures, and then the girls drove to a local Japanese restaurant for dinner.

I notice that our family doesn’t typically put as much energy into Homecoming as other families seem to. I, personally, never went to any of the Homecoming Dances for my high school, back in the day. Elliot went a couple of times, but his experiences always seemed to trend more towards “Teenage Drama” more than “Magical Fairy Tale Evening.”

Still, we’re not anti-Homecoming, either. Especially after the last year and a half of COVID-19 Pandemic disruption, it’s good to have “typical” high school experiences like Homecoming. I’m very proud of my daughter and happy for her to have fun experiences like this one.

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