Saturday, July 11, 2009

Accidents are Never Planned

The last two posts were sent over my cell phone: I've terminated my Twitter account, along with my Open Salon and Telegraph accounts, but can upload brief updates to this blog.

Shortly after I biked to work Friday morning, I received a call from Rebecca, relating that her father had been admitted to the hospital but details were still pending. Half an hour later she let me know that her father, Eddie, suffered a stroke, which was discovered when his workplace noted he had not arrived. The entire family mobilized immediately and drove out to Green Bay, so I told my workplace I was leaving. This was no big deal since we had actually shut down to move our office from one building to another.

Getting out of Minneapolis was another matter. A driver in the bus lane decided to shove me out of the way with his car when his lane was blocked for construction. I anticipated his behavior and escaped collision. I raced home, got Rebecca, drove out to Chipotle for a quick to-go lunch, and promptly witnessed a car accident. Right in front of me, at an intersection, a blue truck was turning left and a black sports car drove straight into its rear end. Didn't even touch the brakes. I parked, ran to the accident, called the police but they said they'd already logged the accident and hung up on me before I could volunteer my role as a witness.

But we did make it out to Green Bay. Eddie was having some trouble speaking, controlling his verbal faculty to form coherent words, though clearly he was having ideas he needed to express. Today that has improved and he can express longer sentences before he gets tangled. His wife, Millie, who has been suffering from Alzheimer's, has out of necessity seemed to recover a little and can make and form new short-term memories. She seemed to improve over the course of our two-week cruise, as though the constant stimulation and interaction brought her out of a fog, and so she has been able to stay pretty much on top of the activity at her house (what with four families having converged) and at the hospital.

It's an emotionally wrenching weekend. The four daughters are reconciling with the shock of what has happened to their father, as well as trying to plan what comes next, because Eddie and Millie will need someone to take care of them, but we all live four and a half hours away. This is a terrible economy for anyone to take much time off from work, but what can you do in the face of a family need? There's no easy or clear answer. Certainly, we can't rely on our government whatsoever, to any extent: it is up to the family to improvise and forge its own solution.

As for me, I am not among my considerations. Rebecca needs me, the family needs me. When I'm not needed I sit in another room with a large book of Jewish jokes and short stories; when I'm needed I try to do whatever I can for other people. The hardest thing is keeping my patience, but other people have greater needs than mine.

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