Wednesday, March 16, 2011

no good deed goes unpunished

So I got a call from Wesleyan Village this morning. "Dad is doing fine," the soothing voice on the other end of the line assured me right away, "but we've got a bit of a problem." You know, as soon as I saw that 440 area code in my caller I.D., I knew it wouldn't be good news. And it wasn't.

One of the requirements of living in an assisted care facility, it seems, is that once a year the resident's primary care physician must examine the resident and fill out a form pertaining to the resident's general health. You know, the results of an annual check-up. Doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? Well, that's because you're not my dad. Apparently, he insisted he doesn't go to doctors and so doesn't have a PCP. When told that he had visited the doctor a little over a year ago, he replied that he doesn't have transportation to get there now and so can't go. When assured that transportation could be provided for him, he declined, as he would have to pay for it.

"The last thing he said to me before he hung up on me, " the nice lady told me, "was to call his daughter. She got me into this mess." Yes, I got him into that mess. One only need look at my blog posts of early last year to see how I agonized over what to do with my dad as he had clearly deteriorated to the point where he could no longer live alone and care for himself. I shudder to think how things would be for him if he were still living in that decrepit house all by himself. The "mess" that I got him into was the best and most expensive facility in the area. Aren't I a bad daughter for doing that?

I explained to my caller that I live in Maryland now and that my dad is mad at me for moving so far away. (That is what I assume, anyway, as he has never said.) She did not have my updated info, and apologized for not knowing. "We will try something else then, " she assured me. That's what they will have to do because I can no longer drive to Elyria and take care of him. I most especially can't go out there now to deal with this. That would teach my dad that raising a fuss gets my attention. So I will treat him like an unruly child and be careful not to reward his bad behavior. Meanwhile, yeah, I feel like crap about it. And as ornery as my dad is, that's probably just what he wants.

Monday, March 14, 2011

it still tastes salty

Ben always takes me to the ocean. I think I mentioned before that I never saw the ocean until Ben and I drove to Virginia Beach and Chincoteague Island in, I believe, July of 1979. I fell in love, and the affair is still going strong all these years later. I am told there are people who don't love - or even like - the beach and the ocean, but I don't really get that.

I don't know if I can describe what I love so much about the ocean, but I will try. In no particular order, I love the smell of it. I love the sound of it. I love how windy it is. I love the feel of it, curling around my ankles or trying to knock me over in the surf. I love walking along the beach and stopping to dig my toes into a whole colony of thousands of tiny coquina clams. I love the idea of swimming in the ocean with all the creatures of the Seven Seas. I love standing at the edge of the continent with nothing but the ocean in front of me all the way to friggin' Africa.

On Saturday, Ben and I went to the beach. We drove to Ocean City, which I was delighted to find was less than three hours from our house. My absolute exhileration began, however, as we crossed the Bay Bridge from Annapolis to the Eastern Shore. I craned my neck to look for huge ocean-going ships in the bay below me, and was delighted to see what looked like a whole flotilla of them to the south of us. I was thrilled to drive by so many familiar landmarks of all our trips to Chincoteague. We drove right over the Kent Narrows, where we used to have to stop if a tall sailboat needed to get past the drawbridge. We stopped and ate in Easton, where it seemed like every restaurant we passed was some place we had eaten before. We crossed the mighty Choptank River. We passed Rockawalkin Road. But just past Salisbury, where we usually swing south on 13 to head for Chincoteague, we stayed on US 50 and headed for Ocean City.

I had never been to the ocean when it wasn't summer. I had never been to the ocean without my bathing suit and sun tan lotion. Needless to say, then, I had never been to the ocean in my leather jacket, hoodie, and jeans. But that's how I went because although it was sunny and bright, it was also windy, and I needed every layer I wore.

This was my first visit to Ocean City, and I loved walking along the boardwalk with all its cheesy old souvenir shops. I love that shit. I feel like an eight year-old again with two quarters in my pocket. Ben and I were not the only ones strolling the boardwalk on a brisk Saturday in March, but it was by no means crowded, either. There were other people there just like us, enjoying an early spring afternoon with the promise of summer ahead of us. And this summer, we'll be here to keep that promise. And we'll be here in the fall and the winter, too. You see if we're not.