Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Family, Bill Buckner, dementia and art

Busy busy busy... but I still remembered to bring a little radio yesterday so I could listen to the Sox home opener on the way home by public transportation. After the game was over, I saw the zillions of photos of all the pageantry, heard the oceans of words... but one observation was glaringly omitted. And it's this. In all the years since Bill Buckner was blamed (unfairly) for blowing their chance at a World Series trophy in 1986, in all his years of exile and now redemption, in all the moving moments of his return to throw out the ceremonial first pitch yesterday... has no one else noticed that he bears a frightening resemblance to Dabney Coleman? The camera does not lie:




The busy-ness resulted from about a month's worth of almost daily fevers for poor Becky, culminating in last week where she did not attend a single full day of school and went to the doctor three times. They finally sent us to a Children's Hospital outpost in Lexington to get fancier blood work and a chest X-ray. That was Monday, when she woke up in good shape and has been fine ever since. Go figure. Hopefully the second blood draw and X-ray either had some kind of placebo effect or simply scared the mystery virus into fleeing her body for good.

We're also in the midst or family visits, both in the middle of the week. Last week it was Ben's aunt and uncle, in town to visit G. (Ben's mom). G. is about the same, perhaps slowly getting worse memory-wise but nothing dramatic. She still always talks about leaving the Alzheimer's place, as in, "I think it's time for me to go home." More recently she added, "What do you think?" in a conversation with Ben, to which he replied simply, "I don't know." And she said, "I don't know either." I keep wondering how aware she is of her own condition and limitations. She is (or was) extremely bright but is also extremely in denial about her situation and has been for years, ever since people started expressing concern to her. Ben has come a long way towards reality from Denial Land, though he is still very guilt-ridden about selling her house in case he has to tell her or she finds out some other way. He's still her son and thus is in knots about her potential reaction (anger, grief, guilt-tripping him mercilessly). But he accepts that it has to be done. Of course no one else is worried about this, since the obvious answer is "Just don't tell her; lie if necessary; she has no way of knowing the truth."

On a similar front, he very kindly went to the trouble of bringing her computer to her, having it de-virused by the Geek Squad, hooking it up to wireless Internet access, and setting up a new Gmail account for her (the old AOL account was completely inundated by spam). I did my bit by making a "cheat sheet" for her with screen shots, etc., that shows how to log in and get her e-mail. Obviously it's very simple for most people and ought to be possible with this cheat sheet for someone with memory loss, but early reports are that this isn't going to work because she basically can't operate a computer any more. Not that she was ever a whiz -- she never stopped complaining about Windows once her old DOS machine died, returning one new computer because it didn't have DOS and then cursing her nephew for getting her another new computer because that one didn't have DOS either. There was no convincing her that DOS had gone the way of the Model T. So it was very nice of Ben to go to the trouble, but I'm not sure I would have shared his faith that the project would be a success. But I'm not him, so who am I to judge.

The second midweek visit starts tonight when my brother F. and his middle son T. arrive. F. is here on business so our stepmother will care for T. all day tomorrow, but we all get two family dinners together, which will be nice. I don't talk to F. as often as I'd like to (force of habit, WASP-upbringing-wise), but we all had a great time over Christmas. Maybe we can even get to his part of the country in late August when summer camps are closed. Which was another project, getting the girls signed up for camp. The town camp runs only six of the 10 weeks, so I signed them up for very affordable YMCA camp for three more weeks. Before that, I sent out an e-mail to all the parents of Becky's classmates asking what they planned to do with their kids for the summer (in cases where both parents worked full-time) and got several well-meaning but useless responses along the lines of "Well, I don't work, but..." [then why the fuck are you wasting my time?] or "try the Fenn, Beaver Brook or BlahBlah camps," which are hosted by snooty private schools in the area and cost in the neighborhood of $530 per week per child, so let's see, unless I take home more than $1,030 a week (a gross annual salary of approximately $71,400, and no I do not make that much), I might as well take unpaid time off. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that in this lovely leafy suburb, moms either stay at home and volunteer for the PTA or make a shitload of money.

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Random links...

Iraq war: Status quo. Everything still sucks, no one has a clue what to do, but there's an end in sight.

FTD: Not your florist's dementia, but a more creative kind of brain disease. "Patients become gifted in landscape design, piano playing, painting and other creative arts as their disease progresses." Check out these amazing pictures by Anne Adams, subject of the aforementioned New York Times article.

Recycling: Maine has a great solution for (1) increasing the recycling rate, (2) expanding it to include noncarbonated drink bottles, (3) making it easier for consumers, and (4) making it attractive to stores who have to accept the slimy recycled bottles.

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