On the cusp of every major change is this quiet lull, where all the emerging forces are stealthily simmering right under the surface. This past weekend, my husband and I spent time with my dad, and our daughter. A changing table was the last big piece of the nursery puzzle to be sorted, and we managed to tick that task from the checklist mid-Sunday afternoon.
All my daughter has to do is pick up some storage bins in which to place the pocket diapers, cloth diapers and covers. We have Snappi’s with which to affix cloth diapers, but she also wanted good old-fashioned diaper pins, which made me smile. Personally, I think those Snappi’s are pretty sweet, but as long as the diaper stays put, who cares in which manner it is accomplished? Now we wait for that baby to decide when he wants his birthday. As each day passes, I think, “Well, it’s not going to be this day.”
Over the last eight and a half months, my youngest has undergone a transformation like no other she will ever endure, at least for the first time. Ironically, my father has trod a similar path, and the parallels make for good conversation, when we all descend upon Dad for a visit. Both he and my daughter are nauseous and tired, also weary of their situations. My daughter’s confinement is nearly at an end, and while sleepless nights will continue, soon enough she’ll be feeling somewhat like her previous self, albeit permanently altered. The same can’t be said for Dad, which none of us mentions, but that sentiment floats about, as if we could catch it in a bottle and seal it away forever.
But that isn’t how life works; people are born, then they die. We can’t look back at Dad’s tenure with chemo and say, “Well, that was a total waste of time and effort.” We have no idea what his PSA would have done sans Taxotere, nor can we judge how that drug now affects his overall health. We can strongly speculate, but maybe Dad would have had this deterioration regardless. I feel helpless, so does he. But he remains fairly chipper, for feeling so crappy. He’s taking morphine now, and that helps a little. He doesn’t feel like he’s going to die soon, what he told my daughter, while my husband and I were out checking the charger on Dad’s boat motor. She mentioned that in the car, after we left, and I wondered if my father felt it was easier to say that to his granddaughter, rather than to me.
All these new and exciting parts of life, and my grandson has yet to arrive!
Perhaps all these observations can’t be helped, the writer in me being so introspective. I’ve put The Hawk away for…. Well, for who knows how long, but I did reach a good stopping place, at page 504. This novel can be broken up into one-hundred page chunks, and last Thursday I inadvertently completed a chapter that neatly ended at yet another of those one-hundred page hunks. With a second grand-baby due in May, I can’t rightly conjure as to when any writing will again commence, but I have come to relative terms with this novel; it’s not going to be finished anytime soon. By summer both of my pregnant daughters will no longer be pregnant, but this abuela/author has plenty to keep her busy.
And that’s a part of this new world order as well; the changing of the guard. Or guards; no longer is my life a swirl of noveling feats. No longer is my dad living with cancer as a side note; his quarterly Lupron shots are like footprints washed away by the rising tide. My youngest can still see her feet, but has a hard time recalling life before pregnancy. And truly, all those lives we once lived are gone. Each day brings a new challenge, and new gifts. This time last year, I was busy with The Hawk, thinking I could complete it by the end of 2014. My dad was starting chemotherapy, and both of my daughters were simply themselves, no freeloaders attached. But nothing remains static. And while some of these alterations aren’t ideal in outward appearance, they are blessings, a few in odd disguises.
That’s the saving grace in all this, embracing that which looks unembraceable. Okay, so unembraceable isn’t a word, but that’s the key. I hate seeing my father so ill, nothing about that seems correct. But as I gladly anticipate the coming grandchildren, equally I have to accept my dad’s condition. It’s not easy, nor do I always do it with aplomb. Yet, griping about this or that is useless, and negativity detracts from the joys. Sometimes going to my parents’ house is like living in the present and the past simultaneously. They have two televisions, side by side. Mom’s is set to westerns, Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, and the like. Dad’s shows either sports or Law and Order. While I’m there, I listen to Dad, my eyes noting a black and white screen or vibrant colour, as if I’m straddling two worlds. Then I’ll gaze at my father, and I see my paternal grandmother, right before we left for Great Britain. She was dying of lung cancer, her voice raspy and weak. My dad is starting to sound that way, although much of that is chemo-related.
This is the way life evolves, sometimes so slowly we find ourselves wondering how it was ever any other way. Sometimes it’s a flash of blinding light, and once we can see again, nothing is as we remembered, sort of like Saul on the road to Damascus. I guess I’m trying to note these changes, that definitely is the writer in me. I want to say I remember this very moment, or those over the past weekend, where my youngest was bemoaning still being pregnant to her languishing grandfather, who laughed along with her.
I want to remember this, to tell my grandson and granddaughter. These are the moments early in our new world order they will only realize via stories. But this is their history, and it is important. For all that is lost along the way, I wish to pass along what matters.