“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” —Richard Bach
Besides Vernon’s parents being here, this is a special family weekend for us, because it marks the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death at 97 (Grandma had passed away a few months before, nearly 95.)
Here is our little family at the memorial service last March.
Flash forward to this weekend, when my dad’s siblings and their spouses reconvened to celebrate their heritage and the memory of their parents by going to DISNEYLAND yesterday (my dad wrote a bit about it here on his own blog) and then visiting their parent’s house (the one they all grew up in) in Palos Verdes….the new owners actually invited them all over for lunch!
As part of their activity calendar this whirlwind weekend, my aunts and uncles all opted to visit Vernon in the hospital. What a commotion there was in the hallway when I arrived. So many people getting dressed in and out of yellow isolation-gowns, taking turns as couples to go and visit Vernon’s bedside. Keith and Joan (Vernon’s folks) were beautifully gracious as all these energetic Americans came in to see their son. The staff must have been wondering why all these people were coming in to see him in all at once. You never know what kind of celebrities are staying in such a posh hospital.
Here is the view from Vernon’s window, by the way. Could be worse.
Anyway, Vernon paid such pure attention to each visiting couple, even remembering some things about some of them—the state or town they lived in, for example. And at the end of each conversation, he would say:
“I love you!” It was so touching to see his sweetness come out again…but also his clarity. I was shocked at the difference in him today.
The nurses who had been attending him this morning had already fallen a bit in love with him. The dialysis nurse and his “sitter” were leaning in close, giggling and sighing at his comments. And for the first time today, he even noticed one of the nurses: “That is one good looking woman!” he stated. There is no such thing as jealousy at this point in the game. I was thrilled that finally he noticed there was a beautiful woman attending him. Goodness knows I’ve tried to point this out to him with the other countless beauties he’s had around him this year…ANYTHING that will open his eyes! And if he has no ‘filter’ at the moment, great! I can relate with that kind of talk!
When Maki entered the room, he said; “MAKI-MAN! My son!” This is a long time nickname for Maki, and he hasn’t used it or even been able to remember his first name in months. I know Maki was very touched.
When his mother entered again, he asked for a kiss. She blew one into the air, and Vernon said, “No, a PROPER kiss!” She kissed him on the forehead and he thanked her.
There were several other things he said that made me feel he was regaining some sense of self and memory. He hasn’t been this clear since Christmas. He kept asking when would be going home, as if in his mind, this was the first day of awareness. But of course he can’t yet. It’s the movie Groundhog Day in reverse. The day keeps recurring but he doesn’t remember the one before…poetic irony.
Still, there was a huge breakthrough today. The doctors (and the staff before that remember him from the last time he was on this floor) are amazed at the difference in him. I got hugged by three nurses in passing today that had cared for him before…they were thrilled by the fact he was doing better. Our beloved Dr. Close found somethings that she is going to prescribe some hopeful solutions for. This last bout has to do with more urinary infections. Obviously antibiotics and dialysis aren’t enough so they will be paying closer attention to draining him in other ways. Not pleasant, but if it makes him this much better, its worth some discomfort.
The children, Vernon’s parents, and I were all able to leave the hospital mid afternoon, feeling great peace and able to enjoy each other’s company afresh. We are energized with hopeful thoughts for tomorrow and beyond!