Monday, 22 July 2002
Tuesday, 23 July 2002
Wednesday, 24 July 2002
8:07 - Barbara is back! She called yesterday at dinner time using a borrowed cell phone to say that they were in Greensboro and would arrive at her parents' house about 7:45 p.m. I finished dinner, took the dogs for a quick walk, and then headed over to visit my mother for half an hour or so. I then swung back by the house, picked up Duncan and Malcolm, and headed over to Barbara's parents' house to pick her up. She was already there, standing out in the driveway, when we arrived. The dogs were so excited I was afraid they'd wet in the car. Heck, I was afraid I'd wet in the car.
Things will be getting back to normal. In fact, they are already. We had our normal morning routine this morning, and for what seems like the first time since Barbara left, I'm actually typing this on my main system in my office rather than working on my secondary den system. Also for the first time in three weeks, I'm able to work without having the dogs in my face the whole time. Not a dog to be seen at the moment.
More later, but things are gradually getting back to, if not normal, at least a new normal.
11:51 - We took a quick run over to visit my mother this morning, stopped at the drugstore on the way home, and then Barbara went to work organizing and cleaning. Her Ferrari® vacuum cleaner is roaring as I write this. She's sucked up enough dog hair to build a new dog. My days of living in filth and squalor are over.
It feels odd to be sitting at my desk again. I spent a bit of time on the messageboards, and over the next few days I'll be diving into the Augean Stables formerly known as my inbox. I have something like 200 real messages there that I just haven't had time to respond to. Thanks for everyone's patience and understanding.
My mother is doing pretty well. At 83, she remains sharp mentally. She no longer attempts the Sunday crossword puzzle (or the New York Times), but she does do the easier daily crosswords. Her memory, including short-term memory, is quite good. She's still in pain, which is to be expected with two broken legs and surgery, but her attitude seems good. I'm sure Barbara will be doing quite a lot over the next week or two to help her settle in.
Thursday, 25 July 2002
9:37 - Barbara is off to the gym and grocery store, and I'll be leaving shortly to head over to the nursing home. They moved my mother from her hospital bed to her personal lift chair yesterday. She loves it, because she's lived in a lift chair for the last ten years or more, and finds it much more comfortable than being in a bed. The only downside is that the nurse-call button won't reach to where her lift chair is. We didn't worry about that too much for last night, because there are always people around and my mother's condition is not such that she is likely to need assistance urgently. The nurse-call button is a simple momentary-on switch connected to a five-foot cable with a standard phono plug on the other end. I was going to stop by Radio Shack and buy a standard male-female phono plug extension cable, but instead I decided to go with the low-tech solution she's been using at home. I'll take her whistle over to her this morning. When she hauls off and blows on that thing, it can be heard for quite a distance.
My inbox is still choked with unanswered mail, so I'd better get over to visit my mother and then get back to work. Speaking of visitation, I've been averaging three visits per day since my mother moved to the nursing home. It's only about 2.5 miles (5 to 7 minutes, depending on lights and traffic) from our house, so it's easy enough to drop in, and even a short visit cheers her up. I find it very sad that some of the residents don't have visitors. Apparently, some families dump grandma at a nursing home and then literally never visit her. I suppose that's (barely) understandable for patients with severe Alzheimers or those whose families live very far from the nursing home, but it seems unutterably cruel.
I'm sure Barbara and I will reduce the number of visits to a couple a day eventually, and there will be times when we'll be out of town or unable to visit for other reasons, but I can't imagine how anyone local can justify not visiting an elderly parent at least once or twice a week. These elderly people are as dependent as children, or more so, and they have only their relatives to look out for them. To me, what these non-visitors are saying is that if their mother had been a dog they'd have had her put down but since they can't do that they'll just do the nearest thing by dumping her in the nursing home and forgetting she exists.
Friday, 26 July 2002
8:49 - Things are starting to settle down a bit around here. Our goal is to be back to normal (or at least the new "normal") by next Monday morning. Barbara is almost finished cleaning and organizing, and the dogs are back into their old routines. I'm gradually getting my email backlog cleaned up, although there's still a lot remaining. If you emailed me within the last three weeks and haven't heard from me, that's why. I'll try to get my inbox cleaned up completely before next Monday morning. Obviously, my to-do list is now looking ridiculous, but I'll try to get to that as well. I'll also try to get back to my regular posting schedule, although things are likely to remain short shrift around here for quite some time to come.
Barbara is off to run errands this morning, and I'll try to get some of these disorganized electrons herded up.
Saturday, 27 July 2002
9:15 - Jerry Pournelle lost an old friend yesterday. He had to have Sasha put down. Sasha was 16 years old, which is old for any dog, but particularly old for a dog the size of a Husky. I happened to check Jerry's page only minutes after he'd posted, so I called immediately to convey Barbara's and my condolences. As you might expect, Jerry was pretty broken up about it.
Part of the problem when this happens is that people feel they shouldn't be affected by grief to the extent that they are. Even those who own dogs and should know better somehow think that they should feel that "it's only a dog" and therefore not grieve as badly as they do. That's wrong, of course. Sasha was Jerry's friend and constant companion for 16 long years, and losing Sasha is as hard on Jerry as it would be to lose a family member. Sasha was a family member.
Humans and dogs have been symbiotically bonded for probably 20,000 years or more. We claim that humans domesticated dogs, but in a very real sense dogs domesticated us as well. Until that happened, humans and dogs were, as predators with similar prey, natural enemies. No one knows how it all started, but I've always thought that a wounded or starving dog with nothing left to lose approached a campfire all those years ago. All of the men wanted to kill the dog, but the women took pity on the animal and nursed it back to health. From that point, the relationship quickly became symbiotic. The dogs used their superior senses of smell and hearing to help humans hunt and to guard their camps, while the humans used their superior organization skills, tools, and fire to ensure a reliable food supply and safe environment for both the humans and the dogs.
So humans and dogs have been friends and allies for 20,000 years now, and it's not surprising that we get as attached to them as they do to us. Jerry's loss is no less because the friend he lost happened to be a dog.
Sunday, 28 July 2002
9:12 - It's back to the old routine today. Barbara will clean house again, although she just did it Wednesday morning, and I'll do laundry. Around lunchtime, we'll head over to the nursing home to visit mom.
We hope we can start a new week tomorrow back in the normal swing of things. We'll come up with some sort of more-or-less standard schedule for visiting mom. Barbara is often out running errands in the morning, so perhaps she'll be the one to visit mom in the mornings. I'll head over afternoons, and then both of us will visit in the evenings. Or something like that.
Mom is gradually settling in to the nursing home, although the differences between being there and being here are going to be a bit hard for her to get used to. Here, Barbara or I (or both) were at her beck and call. When she needed something, we were only a few feet away. We'd stop what we were doing and get it for her or do it for her. There, she pushes her call button and then has to wait until someone is available to ask what she needs, and then perhaps wait some more until the person has time to get it for her or do it for her. Naturally enough, she regards that as a lower level of care and attention. What I'm having a hard time making her understand is that personal service is only one aspect of care level, and that Barbara and I simply can't provide the level of care that she needs.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk to the phone company about getting a phone line installed for her. That should help.
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