Saturday, February 12, 2005

What a

depressing blog...someone says. Hmmm... I muse. I go to the blogsite with the links to a zilliongazillion other blogs. What's depressing? Blogs about wanton sexual encounters, blogs about sports statistics, blogs about movie stars, blogs about rock bands, blogs ranting in free verse into an oblivious universe, blogs crying for a reader to acknowledge that the writer exists...

I suppose to some I have depressing circumstances. Comparatively I suppose there are even more depressing lives other people are living. But people don't get much comfort from comparing their lives to other's. "It could be worse, cheer up" doesn't go far, and certainly won't get you a graduate degree in counseling, nor will it make people regard you as a wellspring of spiritual advice.... Even if it's true and good advice....

There is something noble about martyrdom in people's minds. Its an "ultimate sacrifice" based on principles and hard choice in the face of great pain and loss. I suppose if we face life like it is martyrdom, though it is a slow and sometimes painful torturous process, it has a sense of nobility to it. We purposefully climb onto the altar. We conciously give our life, cut ourselves off from the safety and comfort of the familiar, the warm, the shelter and conveniences of what feels good and right at the moment for the sake of a higher good. Its kind of like jumping on the hand grenade that blows up, not all at once, but slowly and inexorably piercing you with the shrapnel of life until your life is spent protecting those around you. Yeah, that sounds depressing, but make it into a war movie and have Tom Hanks do it in slow motion, there's not a dry eye in the house. The difference is when the hand grenade is real you only have to jump on it once and its a done deal. When it is life, you have to make the decision by the minute sometimes. That is true martyrdom, that is heroic and a bazillion people do it every day.

So no. My life isn't depressing. It only gets depressing when I live unconciously, obliviously and
willfully pursuing comforts and exchanging the truth of my life for the lie of mind and soul numbing entertainments and distractions. I'd rather pay attention to the reality of the world than escape it. Well, most of the time.

So, you'll have to excuse me... I think I need to go help change my father in law's diaper, we had Mexican food tonight.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Been a While

since I've posted anything. Not that life has nothing worth writing about, it is that life is too furious to permit me the luxury of collecting a pithless thought and putting it on "paper".
My father in law is consuming more and more time and testing my wife's depths of patience and good natured bearing of all things. She complained to a friend that she is not treating me well lately. Such is her spirit. Gil had a heart attack a couple weeks ago. We called 911 and then spent part of the night at the VA hospital watching grizzled and burned out veterans with limbs missing trying to bum smokes and matches off hospital staff and people in the waiting rooms.
He has refused treatment and since has had two minor heart attacks at home.

He has bad days. On those days he stares into space, cannot walk, has to be fed, and is non-communicative. A good day is when we can get him from his room to the dining room via his walker to eat with the family.

Our bedroom is in the basement and Gil's room is above us. We have a baby monitor walkie talkie in his room. Part of his disease is he gets liquid down his lungs and gags and chokes a lot. When he tries to clear his throat he yells: "AAARRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGHGHGHGHGHHHHHHHH!!!!" He does this several times a night. At other times he screams "HEEELLLLPPPP!!!" We find him with chest pains, fallen out of bed or trapped somehow between his bed and the wall. My wife was changing his diapers two or three times a night until recently. Uninterrupted sleep is a luxury these days.

We finally got Hospice involved and they have set us up with several home health care things like catheters, oxygen and aspirators. Gil's room is looking more and more like a hospital ward and smells like one. I built his coffin last weekend in my carport. We brought it in and showed it to him in his room. He liked it. He said he wanted red velvet for the lining. But then he chuckled and said, that might scandalize people. I said, yeah, you don't want them thinking we're burying a whore. He laughed. It is now in our basement waiting for him to repose. Some of our friends won't go down to the basement. I tell them that some monks sleep with their coffins in their rooms. The constant remembrance of death is a good thing. It keeps us sober. Living with someone who is dying keeps you sober too. Just in case you don't have a coffin laying around as a reminder.

My youngest daughter is 12. She sits across the dining room table from Grandpa every night while he gags and hacks and spits up phlegm and yells "AAAAARRRRGHGHGHGHHHHH"
with a drip of snot hanging like a melting icicle from his beaked nose. She looks at me, but there is not pre-teen disgust in her eyes. It is more like pain and compassion and helplessness and
embarrassment combined. I tap her foot with mine under the table and give her a wink. She half smiles at me. She has taken some hard insults from him over the past couple years. He's not a "kid" person. But she serves him, helps him whenever we ask and is polite and respectful to him. I am sure this is what "kid sainthood" looks a lot like.

The radio show I host, "Our Life in Christ" is doing well. After five years it seems to be gaining some attention and people are finding it helpful. Along with more exposure is coming more administrative duties as well as more attention to quality control and subject content on the programs. Unfortunately the success of the show comes and financial support from area Churches has dwindled due to parish problems. Being self employed, I've managed to find extra work and float the program for a few months but we lost another parish recently. We're going to look for some private support but that's time away from working to pay the bills.

In the past two months I've also been part of a group of people who will be starting a new OCA mission near Arizona State University. The priest in charge wants me to be one of the key lay leadership and my wife to be choir director. We tentatively begin services on Zaccheus Sunday.
There is much to do before we can open the doors.

My father has been diagnosed with emphysema, my oldest son just broke up with his fiancee after half the wedding had been planned, my daughter and step son in Tucson have been fairly low maintenance lately, thank God.... and I never ordered the Christmas present I was supposed to buy for my wife from all the kids. I shopped the brick and mortar stores for it and by the time I had enough money in my checking account to actually buy it, it wouldn't have been delivered on time... it got put on the back burner and the tsunami of our life washed the intentions way down the shoreline until my stepdaughter called and was angry because I never ordered it.... my wife being the saint that she is will bear this also with grace.

I got a "cease and desist contracting" letter from the Arizona Registrar of Contractors two weeks ago due to a complaint against me lodged by a "brother in Christ" who is a, forgive me, a cheap millionaire lawyer who thinks I've screwed him. The short story is I worked for him at less than my cost because he's a member of the Church and good deeds go unpunished. In my former days .... well.....he has one more thing to be grateful for, that he didn't do this to me in my former days. I'm pretty sure he's going to sue me on top of everything.

So. That's about six weeks in a nutshell. I'm sure there's tons of minor things I've forgotten.
But at the end of the day I look at the clock and its already 10:45pm. I haven't showered, we barely finished eating dinner, and I have bids, invoices, return calls, email and radio show research to do. But instead of doing all that I wrote in my blog. I'm still alive. And yes, this is living.