His Life Is Full Of What He Can’t Do

My father wants to drink Coke. The doctor says water. My sister stepped up on this one. “He’s ninety two. Let him enjoy something.”

Charlotte and Great Grandpa Harold earlier today
Lots of buzzing today. Family conferences taking place between my sister, me, our dad and LaTonya, his aide.

My dad went to the hospital after his fall, then on to rehab. He has returned to his apartment weakened. Yesterday he got a bag of iron via IV and he’s wearing a cannula for oxygen. He’s stronger Saturday than he was Wednesday.

He’s brain sharp but physically weary. No one is really healthy at ninety two. You’re always on the edge.

The good news is my dad can regain what strength he had. The bad news is that means doing things which are uncomfortable or bothersome including exercise. At ninety two my dad should stand every hour and walk up and down the hall a few times a day. This is at the edge of his abilities.

I’m not sure I could blame him for saying, “Screw this.” He says he wants to get stronger, but sometimes it’s tough to match action to those words.

At ninety two you can get away with a lot of shit. I asked him not to be a schmuck to others. I’m sure it’s frustrating to have physical life become so difficult. He said he understands.

Few of us can know what it’s like to be trapped inside a body that no longer works right. If my dad drops something it might as well be on Mars. He could bend down to pick it up, but he’d never get back up!

Part of today’s conversation centered on drinking more water. That my father’s kidneys work at all is a surprise. Allowing more fluid in his body makes their job easier.

My father wants to drink Coke. The doctor favors water.

My sister stepped up on this one. “He’s ninety two. Let him enjoy something.”

She’s right. Water is better than Coke, but he’ll probably drink more this way which is good.

I texted LaTonya. “I think we need to consider his life is full of what he can’t do.”

And so we’re all agreed. Let him drink Coke!

Please Don’t Embarrass Us

As a true fan Helaine viscerally understands no lead is insurmountable. As a Philadelphian she anticipates the worst. And then came this season. The Eagles did nearly everything right. We’re not used to this. Early on they won against the Giants on an improbable 61 yard field goal kicked by a sub who’d never played as a pro before. Their quarterback, Carson Wentz, became a potential league MVP. Last year’s disappointment, Nelson Agholor, became this year’s find. They won consistently.

Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, pa.
I remember my first Philadelphia Eagles game. My friend Marlene invited me. Her dad, Frank, had a handful of season tickets. Back then, in 1976, a season cost less than a single game today!

It was fall, but it felt like summer with a bright blue sky. The seats were in Section 614 at Veterans Stadium, high on the shady side near the 30 yard line. We walked out of the concourse and into the stands as a field sized American flag was being unfurled. Ten seconds in and I was hooked on the experience.

I ended up buying a pair of tickets from Frank for the remainder of that season and a few afterwards until I left Philly.

My first year the Eagles went 4-10 with me sitting in the stands in December, freezing. I always still stayed until the final gun.

I was a season ticket holder first, then a fan. It was the experience that got me hooked. Caring about the team came second.

And then I met and married Helaine. Her father was a rabid sportsfan. Only child Helaine had little choice. It was she who came into our relationship with a subscription to Sports Illustrated! She’s the most knowledgeable sports fan I know.

Nearly every Sunday for the last 35 years she and I have watched the Eagles… maybe anguished with the Eagles is a better way to put it. As a true fan Helaine viscerally understands no lead is insurmountable. As a Philadelphian she anticipates the worst.

And then came this season. The Eagles did nearly everything right. We’re not used to this.

Early on they won against the Giants on an improbable 61 yard field goal kicked by a sub who’d never played as a pro before. Their quarterback, Carson Wentz, became a potential league MVP. Last year’s disappointment, Nelson Agholor, became this year’s find. They won consistently.

And then, in a most Philadelphia way, Carson Wentz went down. The star was gone for the season. Hope was lost.

Except it wasn’t. The new QB, Nick Foles, started rough but finished strong. The Eagles totally dominated Minnesota in the NFC Championship game. And they’re doing it without real stars. It’s a team of role players with a very smart coach.

So, today is the day. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the Eagles are in it with a decent chance to win. In true Philly fashion, Helaine says, “I just don’t want them to embarrass themselves.”

Stef is coming by with some friends. Helaine has cooked/baked enough for a small army. We are hoping for a win or at least they don’t embarrass themselves.

The Fruit Trees Will Be Heavily Supervised

I’m on a mission. It’s about my fruit trees. They haven’t produced much fruit. This year I’ll change that… maybe, hopefully.

My concern centers around my potted orange and grapefruit trees and a ground planted plum tree. Of the three, only the plum has produced fruit, four very tasty plums last year and one the year before.

The orange and grapefruit trees have both set fruit, but none has grown bigger than a golf ball. My opinion, the growth has been too spread out. In the end it was more than the trunk could feed.

This year these trees will be heavily supervised as they grow. Energy previously spent on new branches will be redirected to the fruit.

This has meant brutal trimming. Any thin branches from last years growth were chopped. Growth off the main steam has been pinched back where there was congestion. The trees are scarily bare, but very vital.

Since the purge three days ago new growth has exploded on the orange and grapefruit¹ trees. These pre-blossoms are off the main stems and should be more able to get nourishment. My hope is this will serve them well. I can’t be sure.

Should I thin the miniature clusters of orange and grapefruit blossoms now forming? Some of the fruit will naturally fall away while tiny, but can the process be sped up with more benefit to the plant? And how much is the right amount to thin?

I only have a few plants. I’d like them to count.

¹- From past experience the plum tree is a very late bloomer.

His Life Has Changed

When my father says, “Geoffrey, you really don’t understand,” he’s probably correct. The family can only guess the impact his physical conditions bring to daily life.

I started to list some of them, then backspaced. You don’t want to know. Life at 92 is challenging.

Among his biggest problems, deafness. Without hearing aids, nothing. With hearing aids, not much better. He can’t understand my sister on the phone at all.

Two weeks ago, in the hospital and struggling to hear, the staff there let him use a PocketTalker Pro from Williams Sound.

My sister Trudi ordered one from Amazon. His life has changed.

That’s a photo of my dad having lunch with the guys. It’s like he’s been sprung from prison. He ate alone in his apartment because he couldn’t converse. Now he can.

He’s in rehab the rest of this week. They want him stronger so he’ll better avoid falls. He says physical therapy he’s receiving is having a good effect.

He’s back home and ready to talk to the neighbors next week.

Last Night’s 4.0 Quake

It happened today at 2:09 AM. A minor 4.0 earthquake let loose on the other side of our nearby mountains.

It woke Helaine from a sound sleep. As she came to her senses, “I could still hear the house moving.” That’s sufficiently scary.

Doppler, who was also sound asleep, woke up and stood up.

Seismograph from Pinon Flats, CA

I had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs while watching TV¹. I never did wake up for the quake.

The large faults that run through Southern California aren’t nearby. Irvine isn’t considered earthquake challenged. Though a 4.0 will get your attention, it’s not enough to do damage, especially with the more stringent building codes here.

This is our second noticeable quake and the second time I’ve been sleeping. The last time Helaine woke me quickly enough that we were still in motion.

Of all the bad things that can happen in this world earthquakes continue to be near the bottom of my list.

This map shows the plotted responses to the USGS’s “Did you feel it?” page.

¹ – It’s well established in the Fox house if I’m watching TV on the couch with my glasses off sleep is imminent.

Ask Me About Cancer

Those are my feet from December 2, 2016. I have no clue what procedure I was about to undergo. There were many.

Helaine and I just spent some time with a friend of ours who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was caught early. She’s going to the right hospital. The outcome will be positive.

Today it’s very scary. The “C” word always is.

We’re glad she spoke with us. H and I learned a lot as we moved through the medical industrial complex. There’s a lot of ground we can help her cover more easily.

She is not the first ‘fellow traveler’ I’ve spoken to. There are three of you I’m chatting with on Facebook and Twitter as you or a parent undergoes treatment.

Let’s face it, I’m a good guy to ask. My treatment worked miraculously. Who wouldn’t want this outcome?

Our friend was shy. She didn’t want to intrude or burden us.

It doesn’t work that way. I know how helpful friends and family were to me. Cancer is not a one person job!

So, go ahead. Ask me about cancer.