Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Maybe one takes pictures on one's reflections to assure one that one is still there somewhere. Perhaps. This reflection is from a gift shop on West Sixth Street. Taken Sunday. My friend SuRu and I decided to go for a coffee and ended up at Sweetish Hill. So we window shopped and took some pictures.

Sometimes one needs reassurance. Yesterday I was playing tennis and I told my partner that if we didn't finish by a certain time that I would have to forfeit. Dad was counting on me to drive him to the ophthalmologist. It is reassuring to him and to me that I am there for him. I managed to lose in three sets after many deuces. I rushed off to take care of Dad. He started having trouble seeing on Jan. 30 and I'd called but they wouldn't give me an appointment until yesterday.

The appointment wasn't reassuring. Dad has a detached retina. Maybe caused by aging and past cataract surgery. It's something that should be attended to as soon as possible but since "the middle is already gone" it isn't as much of an emergency. Hmmm. So would it have been an emergency if they had agreed to see him sooner? Then they said the soonest the surgeon could do it was over a week away. But even though the time was not convenient for me, the caregiver, it just could not be delayed another week.

I felt bad about all this. Angry I didn't find a different doctor or insist on an emergency appointment. Angry that 'as soon as possible' means 'at the doctor's convenience.' I had to change my own eye checkup so that I could handle the pre-opt appointment for him. Am I really there or am I just a caregiver?

This morning when I called my dad I explained all this, all the dates and times, the risk that his vision won't get better, won't get better right away, who would be helping him when I couldn't be there. He was cheerful and circumspect. He wrote down the dates.

"It's always something," I said.

"Yeah," he said, laughing. "When you wake up in the morning, you ask yourself 'What is going to take the joy out of life today?'"

My dad's attitude always gives me reassurance. That he doesn't blame me for his problems or the doctors' cavalier treatment of them. That he will soldier on, doing his best, trying not to be too much trouble, appreciating the help he needs. When I was a kid, my dad would help me out with things like a broken down car or a little money or help fixing something. My parents always gave me a place to stay between rentals and situations. My family was a nice support system. Now the tables have turned. And really all I need is the reassurance that I'm not making things worse for my dad.

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