Twenty Years

How thoughtless of me not to write anything (other than “tits”) about our 20th anniversary. Blame it on my post-operative state, although I managed to get a post out that day. Say I am just respecting the privacy of my oh-so-private partner, but we certainly do not hide our relationship any more. Blame society for not allowing us to be legally married in our country – 6 states do not count, sorry – and prevent us from fully celebrating our commitment and the joining of our families. (We have a mixed marriage – she is a Yankee; I am a Texan.) Blame me for not being as bold, as brave as I think that I am for not blogging about our 20-years of marriage-like relationship. For not writing about the weekend hike we took in 1991 in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, staying at Greenleaf hut, and early the next morning walking to an overlook called “Eagle’s Nest”. Fog snaked below us across the craggy ridgeline. The glorious quilt of fall colors in Franconia Notch that we had hiked through the day before was barely visible below. The sky was light blue, totally clear. We stood just at tree line where only stunted, deformed vegetation, called Krummholz, grows to the height of the snow pack. In a circle of candles and rocks, we shared our vows then each spoke a personal commitment of love. I cried. Sue laughed. We are still laughing and crying.

Sue & Mattie 2005

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 (What can I say, I grew up the daughter of a minister, and Ruth’s words to Naomi always haunted me. Yes, I used this in my part of our ceremony.)

Heck Of A Week

Staying “on plan” while having my father visit, well, I knew that would be difficult. He enjoys eating, but as with many seniors, will taste a few bites of anything then quit. The saga of his mal-treated back fractures, surgery, and recent death of my mother have left him 50 pounds lighter and holding. We planned for his love of snacking and food by having a special place in the pantry his treats, cereal, etc. But then this week hit… (If you don’t want to read the fine print skip to the bottom for summary.)

It’s downright scary when your father knocks on your bedroom door at 2 a.m. and says, “Honey, something’s not right.” That was an understatement. He was bleeding rapidly from a stomach ulcer and barely able to remain conscious. Let me say now that having 2 doctors in the house and going to one of those physician’s hospital for emergency treatment doesn’t guarantee great medical care. I won’t rag on about the 12-hour wait in the ER for a hospital bed; the admitting doctor whose physical consisted of listening to Dad’s chest; the nurses who were eager to ignore him once he was “admitted” but still in the ER for hours; the lack of attention to his obvious hemodynamic instability (blood loss); waiting for almost 24 hours for a GI doc to see him; the admitting doctor for some fucking reason not ordering his routine medications correctly even though they were written correctly by the ER doc; waiting too long to transfuse him.

Side rant note: Think we don’t need an overhaul of our medical care system? This is a man with insurance, a devastating acute illness, and 2 physicians hovering at his bedside and HE STILL COULD NOT GET EFFICIENT, QUALITY CARE AT A PRIVATE HOSPITAL.

Back to the week from hell. Three days later, Dad is stabilized, ulcer has stopped bleeding, and we whisk him out the grasp of the hospital. (Meanwhile, Sue has dipped into Dad’s stash of snacks, and I indulge in the M&M spree.) He sees my primary care doc for follow-up and guess what? His Medicare policy will not pay for any out-of-state care unless it is in an ER or hospital – no excuses, no matter how far up the chain I went, that was their answer, “sorry, he needs to come back to Texas to see a doctor.” So, I pay cash, and we still have to see the GI doc in follow-up ’cause he ain’t going home yet. What do people do who don’t have “disposable income” to pay for medical care – that’s right they don’t get care until things get awful or maybe even die. Did you know the highest percentage of inappropriate ER visits are from those who have health insurance? Hmm, wonder why…

Back to the saga. Dad continues to feel better and wants to go shopping for some clothes. We had promised to make a big deal of out his 60th wedding anniversary 10/16 (Mom has been dead for less than 3 months), and he wanted to look cool. I’m yapping away while picking out shirts only to realize he is another aisle over sobbing – huge gulping sobs that he never did during the funeral. With my arms around my thin, stooped Dad who suddenly seems every bit of his 83 years, he whispers that he saw something he and mom had bought together. Funny, my tears about Mom hit most when shopping – that woman loved to buy clothes!

Before dinner, Dad even gives himself a haircut (because I had been ragging him) and with a little touch-up from clippers, damn, he looks like Patrick Stewart or maybe even Bruce Willis. All duded up, we take him out for a 3-hour, 5-course dinner with wine pairings, which was a new experience for him. I had planned for this meal since his arrival and planned to thoroughly enjoy every bite. I passed off the little scoop of ginger-pineapple ice cream topping my dessert because that is the one food I have sworn never to touch. The meal was wonderful. We talked fondly about Mom, and he softly sang their favorite song.

With a song in my heart
I behold your adorable face.
Just a song at the start
but it soon is a hymn to your grace.
When the music swells
I’m touching your hand
It tells me you’re standing near, and ..
At the sound of your voice
heaven opens its portals to me.
Can I help but rejoice
that a song such as ours came to be?
But I always knew
I would live life through
with a song in my heart for you.

Summary for TL;DR (too long; didn’t read):                                                                             Dad visits, I prepare to stay on plan. Dad tries to die from a bleeding ulcer. Hospital care sucks, as usual. Medical insurance sucks, as usual. Jan gobbles M&M’s. Dad and Jan go shopping. Dad breaks down while shopping. Jan holds Dad while he sobs, and she tries to remain strong. Dad, Jan, and Sue do fine dining for Dad’s 60th anniversary, just 3 months after Mom’s death. Jan enjoys the dinner but won’t eat ice cream. Dad serenades them. Jan cries while blogging.