Still recovering from this week's fast trip down to San Diego- yesterday I felt as though a train had hit me, today somewhat better. Now I'm trying to get my head back in the game, back in the present... back in Portland.
Too much happening here with my family, my church and my life to worry much more about what's happening in San Diego, but for those who missed the twitter or facebook updates...
I spent Tuesday cleaning out my dad's apartment, filtering through his personal effects, pulling out the few letters he had hung onto from 20 years ago, the pictures, the old year books. The guy's life peaked in the late 60's and stopped altogether in the late 80s. Nothing significant, no relationships, no movement happened after that.
It's frightening what 9 years in an apartment with only minimal cleaning by a cleaning person can do- the dust and cobwebs, the cigarette smoke stains on every surface- I moved a box in the closet, and the carpet underneath was white while all around it was brown. Amazing.
I filled a dumpster with rotting clothes, old mail, kitchenware I grown up eating off of which had largely gone unused this last decade as my dad ate mostly fast food every day, The fridge was a nightmare.
I saved the pictures and letters and things and put them in a box for him. Not sure where he's going to end up, somewhere with 24-hour care, but when he goes, he'll have a suitcase of clothes and a box of pictures and that's it. The take-away from a wasted life.
I do feel compassion for him, though... he's clearly in pain, both physical and emotional. He finds himself with nothing and no one, unable or unwilling to even try communicating.
I sat with him for about half an hour on Tuesday- I wish it was longer, but honestly- it was all I could take. He barely looked at me- once, possibly for 15 seconds, and then went back to the TV.
"It's been a hard few months, hasn't it?"
Are you feeling better today?"
One word answers, grunts...
I took the initiative and apologized for not having been in better touch the last few years. I told him I was sorry we didn't have a better relationship. No response.
I mentioned a few times I thought I would go and didn't know if I would see him again. No response.
After a half hour, much of it just sitting next to him in silence, I got up and said I would be on my way. As I walked around the bed he (finally) followed me with his eyes and said "Why?"
"Is there anything you want to say to me?" I asked.
"No," he said eyes back on the TV again.
"That's why," I answered.
Looking back, I wish I had had the ability to just sit. I don't think anything would have changed. There were no breakthroughs, no opening-ups, no nothing even remotely in the works.
I'm glad to have seen him, glad to have made an effort. Glad I got to thank my uncle and aunt for the truly heroic efforts and work they've done on his behalf in the last decade.