Notes from the Home - June 16, 2014



   Of the Seven Deadly Sins none is deadlier than Sloth for the would-be scribbler. The writer immersed in Pride can fill reams and reams with accounts of his wondrous accomplishments; one of which is perhaps marginally factual, the rest all poppycock and balderdash. But true or not, it’s grist for the inordinately proud writer’s mill. Gluttony is another Deadly Sin with potential. The porcine wordsmith can go through gallons of ink providing the details of his various repasts. If there weren’t any epicurean delights, he can still share the misery of eating too much, too fast. Lust is by far the best sin to be lost in for two or three weeks. The details of a romp in the hay or two can fill a lengthy tome.
   The writer wallowing in Sloth, however, has little to say. “I sat around all day thinking I ought to write something, but I finally said, ‘the hell with it,’” isn’t much of an essay, despite the economy of words. All of which explains why the last entry appeared on May 20. I am, however, feeling less slothful now and will forge ahead. Or not.

   A woman pushing a walker moved to the side to let me go by in the long, up-hill hallway. “I wish I had that,” she said, eyeing the wheelchair. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. The hallway with its grade was not designed with septua-, octo-, or nonagenarians in mind. Much of what is now Covenant Woods was once condominiums. Perhaps the people responsible for designing the hall didn’t envision a bunch of old farts going up the hill to fetch their mail or have dinner. I admire the folks who struggle successfully day after day to make it to the top.
   But I don’t like people telling me they wish they had my wheelchair. Every time it happens I have stifle the urge to say, “And I wish my legs worked as well as yours.” That would be an appropriate response to some of the people who envy my wheelchair. The ones whose tone suggests that I am a fast-talking malingerer who convinced the doctor to prescribe something I don’t need and the insurance company to pay for it.
   More often these days the anger, the frustration, comes from the knowledge that MS is a degenerative disease. And I’m degenerating. Other than a few steps here and there, I don’t walk any more. When I arrived at Covenant Woods, with the aid of a walker, I could make it to the bathroom on foot and go out on my porch. Now my pedestrian activity is limited to a few steps a few times a day. Three steps out, three steps back; that sort of thing. Otherwise, I can do everything I could do when I came down here two years ago. Doing those things, however, is becoming more and more difficult.
   There are days when something as simple as getting dressed is a dicey affair. For the most part it can be done sitting down. But, sooner or later, a man must pull up my pants – the authorities at Covenant Woods insist we must. To do it, I must stand up, which isn’t a problem. Keeping my balance is.
   When pulling up my pants I stand between the bed and wheelchair. If I feel unsteady, I grab the chair to steady myself. To do that, I must let go of the pants, which then drop to my ankles and I have to start again. On a typical morning, I start again three or four times. The frustration is preferable to having someone dress me. I don’t like to think about that. But one of these days I suppose I will have to.
   Once I get my pants on, the day is filled with other tasks that are no longer as easy as they once were. Russ took me to a shoe store Sunday and then to their place for the Father’s Day lunch Karen was preparing. I had to transfer from the manual wheelchair to the car, or from the car to the wheelchair six times. Until last fall, the tough part was getting my left leg to go where it was supposed to go. Once it was there, the right leg did what it had to do in the manner which it had been doing it for over three score years. Now, the right leg is nearly as intransigent as the left. Russ doesn’t say anything, but I can tell he worries that one of these days I’m going to fall and he’ll have to pick me up off the Target parking lot. Some day he will, and I’m not looking forward to it. There is a lot these days that I’m not looking forward to.

   The men of Covenant Woods were invited to join Roger, the general manager, at Carrabba’s Wednesday for dinner. Five of us took him up on the offer. The original invitation was for dinner at Hooters, but Jim’s objection, on the grounds that the food is better at Carrabba’s, was sustained, and the plans changed at the last minute. It was just as well.
   Thursday morning, while Wes, the new driver, was getting me off the bus, William, the town drunk, came by and said, “You didn’t go to Hooters last night.” I thanked him for the update. Wes said, “Hey, William, your name was on the list. Why didn’t you go?” William told Wes he’d signed up to go to Hooters.
   I have no objection to curvaceous, scantily clad young ladies flaunting their hooters. But, William at Hooters would have been one boob too many.

   I’m not sure if Ron has stopped taking his medication, or started taking it. The usually quiet man of few words is suddenly loud, opinionated, and given to coarse language. At dinner one evening, he asked me if I was going to go to the Town Hall meeting. I said I wasn’t planning to, but I hoped he’d come back from the meeting with all the gossip. He smiled and said he would. The next day, however, he announced, “I’m not telling you what happens at the meeting. If you want to know what goes on, you’ll have to get your lazy ass up there.”
   The next morning, Ron was sitting in the lobby talking to Irene. Pat came by and showed Irene a pair of shoes she’d just bought. Ron took one look at the shoes and announced, “Those are the ugliest damn shoes I’ve ever seen in my whole damn life.”

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