Monday, June 19, 2006


no promises on coherence today – i was so tired when we got back last night that i forgot to take my meds until this morning. damned glad i usually take it at night. this stuff does weird things to my head – which, of course, is perzactly what it’s supposed to do.

we visited Dad and Judy this weekend – and took duckie roller skating! Dad and Brian also got on the rink; i was hugely, absurdly proud of us. it was like being sixteen again, except without feeling so geeky i didn’t even want to exist. it took a little while, but my body remembered how to skate. yoga helped with balance. bend the knees, lean into the wheels at the curves, do that cross-over step, and watch for little bits of trash on the floor. i even remembered how to skate backwards.

duck amazed me. she thought it was an absolute blast. once she figured out how to balance, she started shooing us away – “go ‘way, mommy!” she just wanted to do it herself for a while. fell down, of course, but bounced right back up. unbelievable. the hardest part was pulling her off the rink.

and it beat the hell out of going to a movie.

Dad seems to be improving in leaps and bounds, which is great to see. it says something that he went roller skating!

i wish i could say the same for my uncle r. a few years back, he had a small stroke in his sleep (they think – they’re not entirely sure) which (they think) resulted in some brain damage. and it seems like the damage is progressive and irreversible. r is the baby of the family – he used to be a fantastic bowler, a real smart-ass, and a lot of fun to hang out with. he came to our wedding three years ago and laughed occasionally, but mostly he didn’t really know what was going on. he just didn’t have a context for anything.

from what i heard over the weekend, his motor functions don’t seem to be quite autonomous anymore. you have to literally help him up and walk him to where he needs to go. eventually he’ll just…

it breaks my heart – and not so much for him, but more for the people who love him; his wife, who’s doing the primary caregiving, his daughter (god, v, i don’t even want to imagine what you must be going through,) his dad, and his brothers. i didn’t hear Dad say much about it – i think brian was more privy to the conversation than i was.

i had a strange moment on sunday morning. i was tired and sore from the first day of my cycle, brain kind of on the Odd Trippy setting, and i collapsed on the sofa, my eyes resting on dad’s print of reflections.

i don’t recall ever having seen it before. i mean, i’ve looked at it, it’s a gorgeous painting, and from an earlier perspective i could see that it was sad.

maybe i just wasn’t seeing it from the right perspective. maybe having failing eyesight helped me notice the tension in the man’s shoulders, that particular posture you get when you’re desperately trying to contain your grief. it’s different when you get weepy in private, you know – and when you see a friend start to cry, you see the shine in their eyes first, before the face crumples. if you’re doing your job as a friend, your arms are around them before the first sob escapes.

but the folks keeping this man company can’t do this – they’re his buddies lost in ‘nam, and i wonder now if maybe they weren’t members of a platoon he commanded. there’s something in the way he can’t look at them, but still reaches for them, something that gives me the impression of survivor’s guilt – that, and a feeling of responsibility and failure.

and you know, the guys on the other side of the wall look so sad, and not for themselves, but for the grief they left behind. they don’t blame him, they don’t resent him – they’re just reaching back, kinda glad he’s not forgotten them. wishing to hell they they could say, “man, it wasn’t your fault. you did what you could, sarge. it was just a shitty deal.”

and my father will likely read this and say, "it took you this long to notice?"


i hear odd things in the lunchroom these days. i hear people sniffing and snorting at news reports; i hear people who are normally completely silent, saying things like, “he doesn’t have any intention of leaving. he’ll be there to the end of his term, and it’ll be the person who comes next to get us out.”

you could have knocked me over with a feather. but on some level, this heartens me, it really does. it makes me think that despite our tendency towards violence, we might be moving – as a people - towards a real appreciation of how utterly pointless and degrading war really is. and this is north carolina, you know?

god, hear my prayer. god, let it be so.


james said...

Yeah, a lot of people are coming around...amazing and yet very heartening!!

SB Gypsy said...

Happens every time - happened during 'Nam, and we all forgot.

Well, EXCEPT those of us who either were there, or who have imagination and empathy. That would rule out DuhhhB, Cheney, and most of the others who got us into this thing.