Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Dad

I call my Dad every night... Well almost every night. He lives in NC in a retirement village and I live in Texas, and I call him after 8pm, when my free minutes kick in. He's in assisted living now, 'cos he's in a wheelchair and can't really get in and out of it without help. And, he's getting kind of old (almost 90!) and can't hear too well and has trouble concentrating.

That's something that happens when you get older... You lose the ability to multi-task. Now some of us think multi-tasking is a moral weakness, so this doesn't bother us, but still. Dad can't really concentrate on more than one thing at a time, so, if you want to talk to him it's actually easier to do it over the phone, after he's in bed and the nurses have him all tucked in and everything. He can actually hear you and nothing distracts him and it's this kind of insular little thing between us... And my computer.

We start off on a discussion - tonight we started with him telling me about zarzuelas, because a group had performed one at the retirement village tonight. So he says "Zarzuela," and spells it and I look it up on wikipedia, just like you probably just did... And then I read him anything interesting I find on wikipedia... The zarzuela he heard was Cecilia Valdes by Gonzalo Roig, and I noticed that the singer was Aida Pujol. Now Pujol is an interesting name to me because it's the maiden name of my 2nd ex's mother, whose family was from Cuba. And Dad said he didn't remember that (after I mentioned it to him) but he remembered that when he'd met her, she'd shown him a bunch of old family letters in some variant of German...

Which is because before they went to Cuba, they lived in Alsace Lorraine. So I go to Alsace Lorraine in the wikipedia, but, see, this is the fabulous thing about my Dad...

He already knows all this stuff... Without the wikipedia. Now somehow from here, and I can't quite remember how, we got off onto Finno Ugric. I truly do not remember how, but on this, I could actually read stuff to my Dad that he didn't know! Boy, howdy was that exciting! And we had to hit the Proto Uralic page, too, just for good measure and I was trying to describe the pretty colored map with all the language groups on it and go through the cognates, as well as I could because these are NOT easy languages to pronounce... At least to me.

And then Dad noticed it was after 11 his time and I guess he'd had enough of Finno Ugric so we said good night.

In English.

sick cat day

Ok. Ricë posted a sick cat story, so I have to post a sick cat story. It's not a competition or anything, it's like a theme, a leitmotif... A metaphor. No, maybe not. I guess, really, that reading about Cutie Pie (who sleeps with me when I visit Ricë and Earl so I won't feel lonely) made me remember this story. It's about Abner, who is one of the 'front porch cats.' My next-door-neighbor moved about six years ago and left 22 cats. Now, mind you, she took 38 cats, and would've taken these but she ran out of cars and cat carriers, and so the ones that were hard to catch and the ones that were hanging out on my porch, got left behind. I guess it was some kind of kitty rapture thing... Anyway. It took her car, her sister's SUV and her nephew's van to move the 38, and all she ever had after that was her tiny little car, so the rest of the cats never got moved. That's how I got Abner... And a bunch of other cats, but this story is about Abner.

I truly think that kitties are only really happy when they're well. A couple years ago Abner got into a fight with something. Dunno what it was but it bit him on a front paw when he was out being a cat and by the time he came home, the infection had gone to the bone. When I finally caught him and took him in to the vet's, the vet wanted to put him to sleep, because the leg needed to be amputated, and what good was a three-legged feral cat?

Well, I didn't know, but Abner was a friendly cat, always greeting me, and nice to the other kitties, letting the older cats and lady cats and kittens eat first, so I wanted to save him. What if I just gave him antibiotics? I asked. The vet exasperatedly explained that then at best I'd have a limping cat, which was about as useless as a three-legged cat. And then he quit talking because he could see by the look in my eye that I just wasn't buying it. Didn't help his cause that this was about a year after I fell off the roof and shattered my leg and was told I might never walk again, would surely never dance again, and the best I could hope for was a not-too-noticeable limp... No one suggested putting me out of my misery... At least not within my hearing...

So we did antibiotics. And sure enough, the vet was right. Abner was positively miserable... For about six months. He limped when it was cold or damp. He didn't seem very happy to see me, and there was no little sparkle in his pale green eyes.

I don't know what happened: if the pain got better or he just figured out he was ok and was going to live or what... But now he smiles when he sees me and comes to say hullo and can climb trees just fucking fine, thank you very much, and has very little limp at all...

About as much as I do.

So we commiserate on the cold wet days...

That's what friends are for.