I watered the flowers this morning. At the house we're sitting we have to water the plants and flowers everyday. Usually I don't enjoy this task. Task. What a great word. Usually having to water the plants the takes on all the negative connotations that come with a "task". Some days though I like it. I woke up this morning and had a sudden desire to water the plants. Someone once told me something about work. I don't know if it was a quote or just a moment of brilliance on their part but it had something to do with work and how, although we complain about having to get work done (especially physical work) there is something about giving your hands a specific job that allows your mind to wander free. I like that feeling. Sometimes when I let my mind wander all that comes into it are old episodes of "Lois and Clark" but sometimes it gives me a chance to get my brain in order and sort things out.
I'm usually pretty good at pushing sad or mean thoughts away. Sometimes this is a good thing. But sometimes it's just me lying to myself about how I really feel. If I don't want to feel something I usually talk myself into feeling something different. Usually it's an emotion I assume I ought to be feeling. I've had this a lot recently. My dad has been in the hospital for over a month from a huge heart attack he had at the beginning of July. The recovery has been agonizingly slow and not really visible. He's been mostly unresponsive, not really aware of where he is or what's going on. Over that time it's been really easy for me to fill the positive, helpful son role. No negative thoughts, no sadness, no discouragement. Sometimes I win this battle but sometime anger, and tears have a funny way of leaking out in weird ways or at unusual times.
I thought about all this when I was watering the plants this morning. It felt nice to stand on the grass in bare feet and listen to water gushing out of the hose. There was something good about the way the water would sit on top of the dry parts of the ground in a little puddle and then slowly seep into the dirt when I wasn't looking at that part any more. My hands and legs just sort of movd on auto-pilot as I shifted the hose in my hand or walked to a new section of lawn. After awhile I realized that I was thinking about my dad a lot.
Last Friday my dad had what I would call a break through day. The doctor had just finished telling me that because dad was so unresponsive that there was a good chance that he had suffered brain damage. He told me that there was a pretty conclusive EEG report to support this theory and that it probably happened because at the time of his heart attack his brain had been without oxygen for too long. I took this news calmly, smiling at the doctor and thanking him for his help.
The next minute the physical therapist was calling me into my dad’s room. "We've got him sitting up on the edge of the bed again, would you like to see?" I walked in and there he was sitting up on the edge of the bed. Then they stood him up supporting him with some sort of physical therapy belt around his waist. This was pretty amazing because I had only seen him flat on his back. Then they started asking him questions. "When is your birthday?" "Do you know who these people are?" and to my amazement he answered them fairly coherently. For the rest of the day he was more or less awake and able to talk in a garbled sort of way. This was the most alert and with it I had seen him since I'd been back. It was pretty incredible.
I thought about all this while I watered the flowers. I'm still processing a lot of questions and fears and it was good to have something to do while I waited for something to happen internally. Sometimes when I sit with my dad I put my hands to work, squeezing his hand because I need something to do while I wait for something, anything to happen. I felt like that this morning as I listened to the hose gush. I'm still trying to sort through/am still stuck at the moment the doctor told me that my dad had brain damage. "How could I be so calm?" "What would I do if he really was brain damaged?" All those thoughts and more: Feeling guilty because through a series of miscommunications no one went to visit my dad yesterday, even though I told him someone would be there. Trying to sort through what having my dad in the hospital means for Jacqui and I as far as moving, because although I like staying at this house of a thousand plants that has to end in a few weeks when its real owners come home. Mostly I was, and still am, trying to sort through being sad and afraid to lose my dad.
It's been a weird sort of morning but somehow holding that hose and watching that water helped.