Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Mom and I worked in the sewing room yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't as much fun as usual. Mom's sister and brother have gone to Texas for the winter, and they did not invite Mom and Dad to join them. Mom has pretty well come to terms with the fact that Dad shouldn't drive the motor home anymore. She doesn't actually want to go to Texas, but she wants to be asked.

Dad reheated some pizza at dinner time, and we ate it in front of the TV—definitely not a typical dinner at their house, which usually involves a tablecloth and cloth napkins. And vegetables.

The local weather report warned of sub-zero temperatures overnight, the coldest weather here in nearly 20 years. Suddenly, I couldn't remember disconnecting the hose again after using it during a warm spell a few weeks ago. (My Minnesota friends probably can't imagine this, but the hose bibs here don't have shut off valves inside the house.) Anyway, I beat feet home to make sure.

10 degrees, dark, patches of snow on the ground. I used a flashlight to find my way down the side of the house and discovered that I had, indeed, left the hose connected. Tried to wrestle it off with no success. Tromped back to the house for a pair of pliers and some gloves. Dad called and offered to come help. He's 77. He has COPD and just got over pneumonia. I told him I could handle it and would let him know when I got it resolved.

Managed to get the hose off and discovered ice inside the bib. Tromped back to the house for an extension cord and a hair dryer. With a flashlight in one hand and a hair dryer in the other, I warmed the brass bib til water ran out. Closed everything up neat and tidy, dragged my junk back inside and called Dad.

"Oh, good," he said. "I was just heading out the door. Thought you must be having trouble." Relief and sadness sang a background duet in his voice.

You hear people talk, sometimes in romantic terms, about the "autumn of life." No one mentions winter, when a man realizes he's no longer strong enough to hold up the sky for his wife or his daughters. That's when it really gets cold.

5 comments:

Deb said...

I'm so sorry, Jerri, for both your sadness and loss, and your parents'. I wonder if you might not find some comfort in the "everything contains its opposite" truth that is your teaching right now. Sending you love through the miles of cold and snow.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Gorgeous writing - and heartbreaking, too.

kario said...

What a difficult thing it will be for your parents to gradually come to the realization that it is their turn to be taken care of. I can't imagine anything more frustrating, but knowing you, you will help them make this transition with gentleness and compassion and lots of love.

Sending some your way.

Anonymous said...

You hear people talk, sometimes in romantic terms, about the "autumn of life." No one mentions winter, when a man realizes he's no longer strong enough to hold up the sky for his wife or his daughters. That's when it really gets cold.

Wow! umm that made me cry a little. Thank you thought this post will make it a little easier for somone close to me x
e

Cape Cod Kitty said...

Jerri,
You put to words, so well, the realities of watching our parents age. I remember so well, after my Mum had passed, finding my father despondent and he said "I just have no purpose anymore," and I thought my heart would break, as here was a man who had spent 89 years "doing" and helping others. So we got over that, he rallied and accepted. We had a struggle to get him to assisted living and since we did, purpose has returned...he is engaging with others, caring and smiling at those who cannot, every day he makes the rounds to say hello and be a friend. Purpose was reborn and he is safe and happy most of the time. His health is failing but he still smiles, reads and shares his day. I thought my heart would break at every turn but really, he is happy in his own way. I hope the same for your parents as they transition.
Merry Christmas!!