Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"The Show Goes On"

Got my dad home today, his first day on hospice care. I thought it was hard in the hospital, but this is worse. Perhaps it will just take time to figure out what help we need beyond what hospice provides. Yes, it will just take time. To adjust. To catch up on sleep. The doctor ordered him Ativan for anxiety, and I laughed and said that my mother and I are the ones who need drugs!

I apologize to those whose interviews I postponed because I had to rush back to AZ from San Diego. The show goes on, as Bruce says, and in a few days I will be contacting you to reschedule. While facing the reality of mortality my spirits have been lifted by the emails, Facebook comments, and instant messages from those of you who have reaffirmed the importance of the work I'm doing. Your commitment to the vitality of the comparisons I am making and your appreciation of my insights into the diversity of lived Mormonism have kept my spirits up as I walk with my father between the worlds. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be moving some of my books and other materials to my parents' home so that I can help my mom during the day while getting back to the project.
The Show goes on, and the sad-eyed sisters go walking on
Everyone watching all along
The show goes on, as the autumns coming
And the summers all gone
Still without you, the show goes on

Time is passing,slowly passing you by
You better try to find it before it passes you by
As I watch you walking to another cold dawn
And you keep on walking
And they keep on talking
Talking all along

Bruce Hornsby, "The Show Goes On" from Scenes From The Southside 1988

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"When It Don't Come Easy"

I had such high hopes for this summer

Just as I was getting started writing in earnest, I got the call that my dad was dying. In a rush I set the boat in order, packed my books up and put them in the car and took off for home.

("Don't stop anywhere," my weeping husband said.)

Red lights are flashing on the highway
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home tonight
Everywhere the waters getting rough
Your best intentions may not be enough
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home tonight

But if you break down
I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy
This was the day of my youngest son's nineteenth birthday and a day after the new California hands-free cell phone driving law went into effect. (Trying to make it from CA to AZ to see his granddad that same day, our oldest son was actually stopped and ticketed. I guess the law doesn't have a clause excusing conversations around impending death.)

At the border patrol stop the officers asked if I'd been crying and I burst into tears. "I don't want to be a fatherless only child." This is the man who taught me the value of higher education and teaching; from whom I had to take a college course in my undergraduate degree program; who three weeks before said, "How is the dissertation coming? Is it finished? I can't watch you graduate if I'm dead!" I was too ashamed to tell him I was having trouble getting it going.

His kidneys gave out 18 months ago; then his liver failed;
they say they see spots indicative of cancer but won't do a biopsy because he's in such bad shape in general; and now he's drowning in fluid and aspirating everything from food to saliva.
I don't know nothing except change will come
Year after year what we do is undone
Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run
I wonder if we're gonna ever get home

You're out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you're walking in the wrong direction

But if you break down
I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy
I'm so grateful for a husband and five children who are my best friends. We come out in the rain to get each other when we've broken down.

I still have a father, and I admit I have temporarily lost my taste for writing. But I've been working hundreds of Sudoku puzzles in his hospital room so my mind is at least sharp.

I'll be 53 years old on Sunday. I'm going to have my hair cut by one of my best friends who is a brilliant hairdresser with her own shop in town, have my mouthful of caps looked at for some tweaks in my bite, and sit by my father's bed as he tries to get well enough to go home to hospice care.

I'll write next week. I'm old enough to know that being in a hurry isn't always the best thing.

[Lyrics from
"When It Don't Come Easy" by Patty Griffin from the album "Impossible Dream"]