It’s a miserable rainy windy day. This is the type of day you would run a ‘cheap one’ (as you call it) like 1.29 km or 1m29s run depending on the degree of nasty weather. The children are sleeping in – even Tara. I think she may be coming down with a cold.
Her throat was sore last night after she got out of the pool, but it might have been too much treated water swallowed.
I was up at 5:30am – I can’t believe how I have become a morning person, especially on days when I are going to visit you. I write in the journal while the children sleep. Quiet mornings are good for reflection. Generally, at night, I try to write in point form what transpired that day – then in the morning, after a good sleep, I reflect and fill in the blanks. That helps me find the meaning to the day. This works well for me and allows me to start the day in a good frame of mind.
When we arrive at the hospital. The nurses are getting you cleaned up and putting you in your chair.
Quinn shows you some of his devil-stick talents and his recently acquired juggling skills. They are still a little rough but, more important, he is not getting frustrated with the mistakes – he just picks them up and starts all over again. You show Quinn a little one-hand trick with a stick that I would be hard pressed to do normally, let alone after a stroke.
Upon seeing this trick, Quinn says “You ARE your son’s father alright for the devil sticks but for driving a car I want to be my father’s son”. (In case you missed that – that was a dig at me … I think.)
I explain to you again how important it is for you to touch and acknowledge your left side. You and Quinn start a new game, where Quinn calls out a left-sided body part (elbow, wrist, knee etc) and you touch it with the devil stick. That seems to work well – I wonder if this has ever been used as a standard physiotherapy procedure. I think it should be. This type of therapy should be conducted by a kid, who loves to giggle, because that really encourages patient participation.
Steve and Laura arrive and say that the weather has suddenly improved. We take you outside to get some sunshine and Vitamin D. I notice, for the first time, that you look rather pale in the sunlight. – Of course you haven’t been outside for 2 months on a sunny day! I expect the sun feels good.
We hang out together and Quinn plays with his devil sticks and Tara plays with Laura’s hair. Quinn almost puts Steve’s eye out with the devil-stick. If you were looking, that would have never happened. I think, that is one of your worst fears. You’d often say, “You’re going to put someone’s eye out with that thing”. – Now it’s a common place statement with the children.
When we get back to the room, you get talkative. Your words don’t make much sense. It’s like there are 2 or 3 different thoughts going on and the words from each are jumbled into an impossible-to-detangle knot. I do find a meaning sometimes, like when you said “Put that Kleenex behind my head and blow it up” The children figured it out – it means - I need another pillow … at least we thought did. Most of the time I can’t untangle the word knot.
Steve shows you what he did with the T-shirt that my coworkers at the animal hospital made for him for the Walk-Run for Hope on the Friday after your stroke. On the back of the shirt it says ‘My Brother Chris Cashen’ followed by a ‘29’. That was cut out from the shirt and mounted and framed. You could read it from the bed! It was in just the right place for your eyes to find it easily.
You continue to get confused and emotional. I think you thought Steve gave you something – something big … I don’t know what but something like a kidney or some other life saving gift. You get very sad.
We console you and tell you that you are doing a great job of getting better and you are running a big marathon and we are all there with you cheering you on and helping you along the way. After a minute, to take this in you say, in your broken voice, “If I’m running by myself, why do I need anyone else, What good are ya?”
I change the subject to a topic that you are passionate about and that seems to straighten out the lines of thought and words. Next thing I know you have both Steve and Laura signed up for the Cabot Trail Relay. At least you think you do. Actually, I think Steve will definitely commit to running a leg. (Sorry Steve) Now it’s in the journal he can’t back out!
You are getting tired so we leave for some lunch. At A&W (Tara’s choice), our order came to $29.41. Sharp-eyed Quinn noticed this and said “We should make the cost $29.45, because 29 is a very good number and Daddy is 45.” I couldn’t argue with this logic so I got out a few 4 pennies and split them up between Tara and Quinn. Beside the A&W is a water fountain. They each made 2 wishes and threw in the pennies. Now Dinner and Wishes = $29.45 = Another magical number.
When we get back, you feel like talking again but get teary quickly. You feel badly that you can’t help me right now. I tell you that you doing the hardest job – getting better. “You need to keep getting better. We need you. I need you… We need you to be the best parent you can be.” I tell you that “I’m scared”, and you say you are scared too. Tears flow. I tell you that one can be scared and still be brave. We have to help each other to be brave.
The words are a little jumbled, at this point of the day my memory was getting poor but the children recalled you saying: “I have an announcement. Don’t worry if Mummy is late. You should look after her.”
The phone rings, it’s Janice. She called to say that Erica and Jessica did very well in the cross-country race. They placed 8th and 10th – It was a big race. They did very well for their first cross-country race.
On the drive home we review the weekend – highlights, sad moments, the funny things you said. The mood is high for the children. I felt, as I always do on Sunday evenings, like I want to stay by your side. I don’t want to go back to the rest of the world.
Quinn asked Tara if she was scared at the corn maze by herself. “Yeah, I was scared but I just decided to suck it up and be brave.” She said confidently. Quinn didn’t think he could do that. When I pointed out that Tara is two years older and in two years he might be braver, Quinn says “No way”.
Tara and Quinn talk about the next family adventure they want to go on. Sea Kayaking. They both want to go sea kayaking. I know it might be a challenge for you – you weren’t especially excited about the idea before the stroke … but I told the children – “We’ll just have to wait and see how brave Daddy feels.”
When we get home, I realize, I forgot to pick up Annie. As someone pointed out (Mike from the blog), I am a juggler … I am a juggler of duties and roles. I dropped a ball. I expect that when a juggler drops one ball – he has to concentrate extra hard so no other balls well be dropped. That’s how I feel tonight. I’m worried because this week there will be extra balls to juggle. What else will I forget? The fish? The cats? The chickens? The children? Maybe you sense something going to happen because you just warned the children about that possibility. I’m scared and I’m trying to be brave too.
Tonight there is an email for early registering of the 2010 Cabot Trail Relay Race. I forwarded it to Chris and Terry G, who will organize it this year. If you are a reader – who is ‘moved’ enough by Chris’ story to move your butt around the Cabot Trail on May 29 (there’s that magic number…again) and 30th then check out the web site: http://www.cabottrailrelay.com/ and email me firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ll forward it to Chris and Terry G. Come on … BE BRAVE TOO!