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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