Friday, March 24, 2017

Belated Christmas Wishes

Christmas Letter 2017

Things go a little more slowly here. My trips out in the car last summer were two and one of those was to a doctor (no changes to report). That’s not to say I don’t go anywhere. When the weather is warm enough, which for me means anything over 80 degrees, I go out in my wheelchair for what my caregiver and I call motorized strolls. We explore the alleys and slow streets in this little town and amaze ourselves about what people do or not with their backyards. Best of all, it gives me that all-important impression that, what with rabbit hutches, brown grass, small gardens and various unfinished projects, I’m not so very far from the country after all. I continue to regret that I haven’t figured out a way to live outside town so I could see sunrises and sunsets and still be close enough for caregivers and deliveries. I regret this especially after two boil water notices last summer! We’d all rather have our own wells at this point, after boiling water to do dishes for a week each time and me now inundated with chlorine fumes with every bath in my therapy hot tub, but I was already drinking bottled water anyway.

I continue to live in the house where mother’s and now brother's tenants still come to pay rent. My caregiver comes in the evenings. She helps with me and with collections but when she has to be gone, I still get to wait at the door and write out receipts! I just need a little more lead time to get there these days. I use a tidy hydraulic multi-lift to get out of bed and into the power chair, and there’s organization required -- pillows, blankets, tables and technology to be moved out of the way without getting dropped -- before I move myself. The fact is that when I do get up there’s nothing to do (at least at this time of year) except look out the windows (or talk to the tenants, of course) because everything I need for writing, reading, television viewing and even my meals (and bedpan) throughout the day is neatly arranged around my bed. I get up for the bath which is where I get my exercise, since water aerobics continue to be less difficult or dangerous (after two broken legs) than anything on land or standing, and I can be content on my Rojo mattress in my adjustable hospital bed on my own for 20 hours a day.

This is probably not where I imagined I would be at this stage, at this age, but it’s not bad. I am, after all, still living, still thinking, still writing, texting and talking on the phone! With all that still available, I get along without walking.

This was St. Patrick’s Day, or I should say St. Patrick’s weekend, and it seems sad to even use the Saint’s name in connection with what passes for a good time on this day, but there it is. I keep track by way of the police scanner on one of the several tables here beside me and because of that I know they relocated as many jail residents as they could prior to the weekend, rightly knowing that the place would be full again soon.
But at least I’m not in it, nor is my brother! And he is still walking, talking, driving and traveling. True to form, he doesn’t tell me much about his destinations, but I have learned, as with so much else, to be fine with that.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When TV Makes Its Good Points

    I name things. Lieutenant Fancy is the name for my bedside multi-lift assistant because I'm a longtime fan of NYPD Blue, a 1980s model cop show (in which the Twin Towers are still standing tall) which is being aired again on cable.
    Lieutenant Arthur Fancy is the headman at the 15th precinct detectives’ squad and as such he is treated with earned respect by each of the distinctive personalities who fight crime from their singularly unfancy squad room.
    Modern American CSI criminologists pursue the same old bad guy story-lines as in the 1980's, but they do so from laboratories which broadcast crime scenes onto glass walls from cameras hidden in plain sight throughout their cities, with detectives who fly to terrorist trouble spots around the world carrying lethal “ready bags” from their lockers, and by way of car chases, justified shootings and major-league multi-national backgrounds in bombs and military training. In other words, impressive.

    NYPD Blue operates out of shabby, cramped and old green painted quarters with dial tone phones, typewriters, hard-used interview rooms and a single restroom for male and female -- they just knock first and keep it respectful. I’m more at home in that era, me and Humphrey Bogart, when I was also using typewriters and print film cameras.

    Basically I just like it when justice gets done, when right is not wrong, and the bad guys (and girls) get put in jail, in any era. I like it that Lt. Fancy helps me to fight the crime of despair by keeping me independent.

    But in the mornings what I look for on the good (and sad) side is EWTN, where we are currently mourning the passing of Reverend Mother Mary Angelica, 92, foundress of that world’s largest Catholic (or any other religious) news broadcasting organization.

    She was a Poor Clare cloistered Franciscan nun of perpetual adoration, which customarily means she would not have left her monastery -- as her sister nuns still don’t. But Mother Angelica burst forth, with the approval of the Church, at the age of 58, to take on the pagans. She had discerned a call to defend her beloved Catholic Church against the culture of death -- as identified by Pope Saint John Paul II, with whose tenure hers coincided -- and she built a television station on donations to make it happen. 

    There’s more to her story than simple vowed religious life (as if vowed religious life is ever simple); she lived in chronic and debilitating pain from injuries and illness which taught her, as she said, to use her suffering to cling to Jesus in prayer. She believed, as we are taught in Catholicism, that to “offer it up” to Jesus on the Cross means one's pain is used for the healing and salvation of all souls in need, including one’s own family and ancestry as well as those in purgatory.

    Along the way she founded an order of nuns for the continued prayer of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Host 24 hours a day and an order of Friars and Priests to serve the Catholic Mass broadcast four times a day by EWTN and as chaplains where the news is gathered from the Catholic point of view and delivered in print, by radio and satellite around the world.

    Those who knew her best testified (through their tears) during this last week’s memorials that even when she could no longer walk or talk, after a series of strokes in her eighties, her influence throughout the organization had remained unmistakable. They expect she will now continue to guide and direct operations to everyone’s benefit from heaven.

     Speaking for myself, we love her, we home-bound, disabled and otherwise sidelined citizens of God. We love it that she was healed at least twice, which she called God’s will, and that when she wasn’t healed she called that God’s will too, and surrendered herself to it, body, soul, mind and heart.

     She was as inspiring and indomitable an example of useful disability as was Saint John Paul II as he died before our eyes the slow death of Parkinson’s disease, also never faltering in his faith nor his obedience. We who depend upon the Church for our stability shall be forever grateful.