Beve took his father to the doctor yesterday. Oh, the adventure. Oh, the gift that keeps on giving. And speaking of gifts, this might be a good time to remind him that I was at a local luxury spa having a hot stone massage courtesy of our kids' Christmas gift to me. But then again, maybe the torture would be too much. Anyway, Beve and Grampie went off to the doctor--an appointment that had been quickly found when it was discovered late the day before that Grampie had been off his blood thinner since sometime mid-December and was in danger of stroking out. Beve had a rather long conversation Wednesday with the agitated and worried nurse at Grampie's doctor over on the Penninsula, then another conversation with our doctor's 'assistant', as she likes to be called, who found a spot for him on a busy schedule.
So, armed with a host of questions, only about three of which were actually about his own health, Grampie went to the doctor. He queried our doctor on his medical training, his family background--including size and support--where/how long he'd practiced before. Our doctor, it should be noted, is in his mid-thirties (though he looks younger than that!), is slight, and probably barely taller than me (say, 5'7"?). Patiently answering questions by this old bear of a man. Beve said, "It was actually rather cute." Cute. But I have to tell you, there's something about this man, at this stage of his life that is cute.
Finally, they got down to business. Beve didn't tell me the whole story about the medical stuff--blah, blah, blah--as Grampie would say. Something about a foot, and a pediatrist referral, which I'm pretty sure you aren't all that interested in. I mean, feet! Are you kidding me. Yuck! But then came the interesting part. Grampie told our/now his doc that a few years ago (at Beve and sister Glo's insistence), he'd taken an Alzheimer's test and passed. Grampie likes to take that information out now and then and metaphorically wave a finger and Beve about it. When Beve told me about this, I said, "But did he take one today?"
"No, and I don't think he needs one."
"But.." I began.
"He admitted that he wouldn't pass that test today." Beve told me.
Oh. "Not only that," Beve said. "He said he's been feeling anxious."
"WHAT? Feeling ANXIOUS? Grampie? Your Dad?"
"Not just once. He said it three times."
You have to understand. I've known Beve's dad since I was in the 5th grade (Not that that actually counts), been part of his family for the last 26 years. And I've NEVER, EVER heard him talk about feelings. Not when his oldest son married a woman from Finland, moved across the world, never to live in this country again. Not when his wife of 43 years got cancer, not when she died a year later. Not when he told his family about a new woman he was going to marry the next year. Not when the next son, up and quit his job, took his wife and sons to a Christian compound because he thought the world was going to end with the year 2000 (Don't get me started!). Not when his only daughter died--well, sort of when his only daughter died--but that was about her, not about him.
The point is, he simply doesn't say he's worried, sad, afraid, angry, happy, scared, or ANXIOUS. ANXIOUS. ANXIOUS. Three times in one semi-short doctor's appointment.
Grampie's always been about as steady as a rock (hence, Doc-the-Rock as his nickname). And that steadiness has been handed down to my Beve and my daughter, E. It's in their genetic code. But something is scrambling Grampie's code these days, I'm sorry to say. Something I'm very familiar with. Something Beve doesn't quite want to admit. It's a road I've been walking a while now with my siblings. We're a lot further along it with our Mom. But having Grampie live in our town has given us a better vantage point from which to see him, and I recognize the signposts of this familiar trek pretty well. My mother was given to anxiety, even in the best of times. But there's something about holes in the brain that makes one anxious, I am sure. Something about not being able to count on what one always counted on before--the brain--to scare a person half to death. It's no wonder Grampie's frightened. I'd be frightened to. I think I will be, if I'm the one to walk this road with my children holding my hand. I don't think there's anything to keep that fear at bay, I'm sorry to say. Very sorry to say.
I have to tell you, I've never been a person to ask why. I recognize that evil is implicit in a fallen world. That where there is sin, there is sickness. Where there is sin, there is crime and poverty and all kinds of horror. But there's something about this losing of one's faculties that makes me ask, "WHY, God?" And, yes, I ask this too. "Can't you just take them before you allow them to sit around in a shell of a body, empty of all their humanity? Nothing more than a plant? Will you take me...if it comes to that?"
On that awful note, I'm off to play with my sisters in San Francisco. See you Tuesday.