Monday, November 15, 2010

You can't have a bad day in bellbottoms

That's my new motto and these past days have proven me correct. It's like an Amish barn raising where everyone is contributing something to the expedition. the van may ultimately break down but this bit of community coming together to put me right is nice. Parts, time, advice. Even the bell bottom pants came from San Fran courtesy of the junk prince of Sunset.
Then I got some expensive stainless steel flex pipe. That's 6 feet of stainless steel and that's pricey. But it's going to work. Cut a hole in the roof and stick the pipe in, add some custom flanges and put the stove on top of a nice steel platform that I tracked down at wentworth scrap and salvage along with some other scrap metal. Man, what a day of dumpster diving and it reminds me that for 12 hours of arduous hole filing in my van passes by effortlessly as I am engaged and focused while five minutes of making harnesses or mailing hockey equipment caused me to have a stroke from anxiety and depression. I problem solve with the best of them but the first thing I ask is if the problem has to be solved. That takes a long time because unlike the engineers who developed the microchip I pondered for more than ten seconds the effects of vast amounts of mercury bombarding the water table. I guess the nitwits at MIT don't teach that in their classes.

All of this leads me to washing my rugs in Bell Bottom pants and playing piano at the clipper home. Man, there's only one way to get out of that place. All the joys and pains will fade into a foldout table and batting a balloon with a fly swatter while a kid in bell bottom pants plays The Entertainer. Maybe holding your grandchild for a few minutes. A woman there once played piano but her right hand was crippled by arthritis or stroke and the rest of her was due for a trade in too. So I played what I know. I was there to visit the mother of the lovely lady in the picture...

Note the plaid bell bottom pants and their proximity to a pretty woman. Coincidence?

I don't know if it is better to deny that we all eventually get too old to dress ourselves or if it is a good thing to embrace our final destination. Does it make me appreciate the life I have now? Maybe. I guess your ability to tend to your parents as they age and fall down and forget who you are depends on your personality and situation. They did give us life even if they were really just having unprotected sex, and they put up with incredible bullshit when we were running around and refusing to listen and cutting our foreheads and fussing about how the broccoli touched the macaroni and cheese and they fought bitterly with each other over who would take full responsibility of us when their ability to tolerate each other evaporated. They did love us at some level and after we could feed ourselves they didn't vanish but instead grew frail and ended up at the Clipper Home with a fly swatter in their hand as a balloon floats slowly toward a sippy cup.

Oh, I don't understand this fickle life, this long line of cars and music and arguments that all must end with death. Our damn culture makes visiting our own elderly family almost impossible due to space and time. I swear we should all just adopt another person's elderly parents that are close to our house and visit them and treat them like they were our mother or father. Like, it makes no difference to someone who can't hardly remember or move or see. They don't want to be forgotten but they have also forgotten how seldom they saw their own parents when they were 40 and had kids demanding socks and shots. There's a line in Rabbit is Rich, where Rabbit is reflecting on his age and place in life: "Rabbit can't believe he will ever be as dead as his mother in law."
And I interpret this to mean that Rabbit can barely remember her existing...and I guess outside of Rabbit's son and ex wife, he will be exactly as dead as his mother in law...just a ghost on a mantle in a black and white picture looking young and handsome, someone's whose effects will be cursed over, "Why did he save this?"

It's overwhelming to me in a hospice/elderly house with the frailty and decrepitude. One man was fumbling with one of those foldable cartons of milk we used to drink at school. His thumbs were working the opening and no one was around and his skin was paper white and green veins bulged on his glossy hairless back. There were remains of some kind of porridge in front of him and the milk carton had green substance on it from his lips. He wasn't completely helpless as he managed to open the carton but he couldn't leave the table without help. Where do you begin? He was probably a naval officer or a reliable mechanic or a jazz guitarist and now he fumbles with milk cartons. Makes me cry a bit.

I got a glass of water for the woman I was visiting and she held it in her bony hands and put a finger in the water so she could tell the depth of it before she drank it. That's a technique used by blind people so I figure her vision is fading though she did recognize me and even had a nice anecdote about walking downstairs in 1987 to find me sleeping on the couch with my eyes open. She raised like 6 kids and maybe the best way to honor her is to keep living.

At one point she said, "Look at those pants!"
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.