Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shaking Hands With Palestine

{ Excerpts from my journal }

15 December 2009 Tuesday
Today my Mom is with him. About seven hours. I did not see him, but she says he is talking a lot, and making plans.

16 December 2009 Wednesday
Twice now I have come through the Emergency Room doors as entrance to the hospital and found a grown man in desperate, hopeless tears, with someone beside him offering what comfort they can.

Today his bed was empty as I came around the corner. Dad was sitting in the chair having a breathing treatment.

"You're beautiful," he declares from behind his mask. "Those are nice jeans, are they new?"
"Kind of, " I answer.
"You probably wear them because Matt thinks you look hot in them."
"Matt thinks I look hot in most everything."
"Those are really nice shoes," he adds.
"Dad, I don't know that you have ever noticed my shoes before."
"Jessica, I am noticing everything today," he tells me with tears in his eyes. These are the first of many tears I will see in the next three hours.

My father is in awe over everything. He is friends with everyone. His nurse, Yvonne, has a very limited number of smiles, but she is willing to give him a few because he is too solicitous to resist.

Dr. Romeya comes in, one of the two surgeons who performed the bypass. Dad says "you have a great smile."
"Thank you," Dr. Romeya answers with a mysterious accent. "God just made me this way."
"Do you mind if I ask where you are from," Dad inquires.
"Palestine," the doctor answers.
"My niece and nephew went there and they said they loved Palestine - liked it way better than Israel. Not that they didn't like the Israelis, they just liked the Palestinians more."
Dr. Romeya is smiling again - truly a beautiful, full face smile - graciously, slightly sheepishly accepting and simultaneously deflecting my Dad's compliment.
"They are good people," the doctor says. And I wonder if he is speaking of the Israelis or the Palestinians.

There is a bit of conversation about Iranian missile testing, spread of nuclear technology. At the end we mutually agree we just need peace.
"We need to get together, like you and me, right here," my Dad says with more tears. Dr. Romeya deliberately, thoughtfully extends his hand and his smile to my Dad, who takes it in a kind of fraternal grip.
"Yes, we are here together. This is what the world must do," Dr. Romeya says as he takes his leave.

Friends, friends, and more friends.

At some point during his exchange with the surgeon a man comes in to collect the rubbish from my Dad's room. "Hi Jean," my Dad greets him by name, "how you doin today?"
"Good Wayne, thanks."

Dad compliments Dr. Ngueyn - nice hair, the pulmonologist - nice tie, Grah - nice shoes.
Goodwill and kindness springing from his new heart.

He says he has blessings to count and I want to record them to remind him later when the honey moon of new life has faded.
Nita is more than half the blessings of his whole life.
He says he needs to do more for her,
mend broken fences.
Mostly on his part.
Shave his beard to be ready to serve a mission.
And "Shhh, this is a secret, I'm going to learn to dance,
so I can dance with your Mother.
Probably have to be line dancing,
something I can do in cowboy boots."

I ask if he is seeing anything as a blessing that he might not have recognized as such before the heart attack and surgery.

Oh yes.
1 - The School District. I've been blaming them for my issues, my depression, but it's not their fault. I've had a job for twenty years that has provided for my family.
2 - The heart attack itself. It is closing doors and opening doors.

"Everything is changing," he says.
There is a glow around him; kind to everyone, grateful, hopeful.
"70 pounds in a year," he says
"In 52 weeks?" I ask.
"Well, maybe 18 months."
He doesn't argue with the dietician, a cute girl called Jen.
"For Jennifer?" he asks.
"Yes, Jennifer," she confirms.
So he sings Donavan's Jennifer, Juniper, and I sing with him.

Jennifer Juniper, hair of golden flax.
Jennifer Juniper longs for what she lacks.
Do you like her ? Yes, I do, Sir.
Would you love her ? Yes, I would, Sir.
Whatcha doing Jennifer, my love ?

Then he speaks to this Jennifer with an impressive Scottish brogue, "like Donavan," he says.


aubtobobtolob said...

Pour out as much as you can/need... I love reading your poetry words of a father deserving of such.

kathy said...

I hope you don't mind if I read your blog. I have loved reading it. And I always loved Donovan too. Death is one of the best teachers and transformers.