Tuesday, October 28, 2014


       He is tired. So tired. He closes his eyes and sings along with the choir that has come to entertain the old people. It is near the end of his life. He can feel that. Death has entered through the back door. She waits for him swishing her skirts. A breeze dances by. It tickles his sunken cheekbones. Not quite yet.

     After, he will accept a cup of punch thickened with powder so he can drink it without choking too much. He will refuse the offer of a cookie. His taste has changed. Food he used to enjoy now not so much.

     The shakiness of confusion is evident in his quiet voice. He turns to me and tells me that someone here at the home has stolen his wallet. This is a claim that he makes often. "The boss lady has your wallet in a safe so other people can't steal it," I remind him. He mutters something about social security checks. I know he is thinking about getting a part-time job and his own apartment. But he can no longer do those things. His past enjoyment and independence are now fading memories.

     "It's time for you to go now," he says gently. And I know he is tired. I take my leave, unsure as always as to whether or not he will be alive in a few more days.

                                     ~ sapphoq on life ~

Friday, October 17, 2014


     Yes you can save it to somewhere on your computer and use it on the internet at will. Credit and link back not necessary. Oh, and copyright troll monopolists, bugger off.

     Headlights flash by on the front window. I cannot sleep. It is a cop car going after who or what I do not know. I shush the two year old cat whose name is Sirius Black the Cat, with apologies to J.K. Rowling. Although if she were to meet him, she would understand and nod in approval. Sirius continues to play with the free-form cement like object I found on a construction site under a bridge near some train tracks. It hangs from the curtain rod on a red string. He finds it irresistible.

     The housemate snores. The bedroom is too hot. Sirius has shifted to a pillow at the bottom of the bed. I stretch my legs. He bites one of my feet. Yeah, that hurts.

     I toss the blankets away. Still too hot. Aspirin substitute I think. I stagger out of the bed and through the living room. The vertigo is moderate. Whenever I first start walking after sleeping or not sleeping, my body is awkward. I am used to it by now. The world spins and bobs to the left. When I do fall, I fall to the right. A swallow of soda from a half-emptied can in the fridge. And so here I am.

     I am glad that the housemate buys cheap light bulbs. That used to infuriate me. Now with the increased light sensitivity-- pure photophobia the t.b.i. eye doc called it-- I celebrate dimness. And quiet. But there is hardly any quiet. I can hear people farting from a block away. Go figure.

     It does not take extraordinary sense to know that my father is dying. I'd gone to see him before dinner. He was slouched in his easy chair in the bedroom. Even on his death chair, he was plotting how he could go back to work. "The partial plate didn't cost me any money," he said. [It did. But his rep payee takes care of his bills now]. "I want to go back to work. Part-time. I think full-time would be too much for me to handle." I nod. A concession made to his deteriorating physical and cognitive condition. Part-time will have to do. I hate it when he does these things. He worries about money. All the time.

     "What would you do with the extra money?" I asked. He wants better quality clothing. He is a stick figure now. His shirt and pants hang off him like rags. I want to run away. Dad was always such a sharp dresser. Damn.

     After the visit, I drove to the gym. Burned up seven hundred calories on the treadmill. Punished my muscles for his pain.

     Before the visit, the hospice social worker called me to check in. "Are you wanting a visit?" she asked tentatively. She is young. New. I've only met her once. "I appreciate the phone calls," I told her. I am exhausted. I don't think I can show up for one more thing. It is too much.

     Everything is too much. Not sleeping. Dad dying. The noise. The lights. The irregular sleeping and not sleeping. Sirius playing and banging around. It is all too much.

                           ~ sapphoq on life

Monday, October 13, 2014

He says

Yes, you can take it, save it, and use it on the internet. I don't care.
Credit is already on the tag. Link back is not required.

     He stirs from his after lunch nap on the easy chair. He is frowning in his sleep. His mouth hangs open. I wait.

     He wakes up. "I'm getting weaker," he says. I say, "Yes." I've learned to allow him to talk about his illness and impending death. Anything other than simple agreement gets him riled up and then he says he doesn't want to talk about it.

     I wait.

     He traces his sunken cheekbones and his chin with the fingers of his left hand. "I'm losing more weight," he says. I nod and say, "Yes."

     He points in the direction of a newer housemate. "She stinks," he says matter-of-factly. "She will die first."

     "Saturday," he says. "My teeth are coming back Saturday." A staff person bounces over just then. "Tomorrow honey. You and I are going to the dentist tomorrow to get your partial plate." They exchange pleasantries. "I'm going home now for the day," she says. "You just got here," he laughs. And I know that he knows that she is part of the morning crew. "I worked the whole eight hours by myself," she tells me. I know that had to suck. One staffer with all these impaired older folks. Too many frail elderly people to look after.

     "Saturday?" he asks me. "My teeth are coming back Saturday?" "No, Dad. Tomorrow. Tomorrow is Tuesday." "Who is taking me?" I tell him the staffer who just left will be taking him. "Oh, okay. Have I had three meals yet today?" I realize that he is using breakfast, lunch, and dinner as markers for how long before nighttime. "You've had two meals today, Dad." He accepts this. "Saturday for my teeth?" he asks again. "Tomorrow," I reassure him. "Not Saturday."

     "I'm going upstairs for my afternoon nap," he says at last. "Be careful driving home."

                                   ~ sapphoq on life

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Partial Plate Has Been Sent Away

     Dad went to the dentist the other day. He went to the first dentist who he no longer remembers but the entire office remembers Dad. That particular dentist had given his own personal home phone number to Dad during the last visit in case complications arose from the dental work done. [None had].

     The partial plate is now being repaired and should be back sometime "next week."

     Dad wants to go shopping once the plate is back and in his mouth. We used to go shopping a bit and I think Dad misses those days. Those days were a bit more carefree for him. He was able to walk after a fashion that did not resemble lurching. He inquired after the cars of strangers in the parking lots. He returned to his room with lots of candy. He wasn't actively dying then or receiving hospice.

     He is weaker now. I hope that I can take him shopping [if he lives]. He is so pale. He was always darker than I am and now he is pasty white. His fingers are so very cold to touch.

     I love my dad. I want his suffering to end.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


     My mother didn't "believe" in anesthesia for kids-- or at least for me-- when it came to doing any sort of dental work. Maybe I had four cavities. All of them were filled without long needles being inserted in my gums first. One baby tooth with massive roots was pulled the same way. The dental work must have hurt some but I don't remember that now. I remember noticing the body odor of a dental hygienist. To me, it smelled like pea soup.

     We changed dentists once. The new dentist was farther away and probably cheaper. I did learn from him that there were four types of saliva. They ranged in terms of protection from cavities. That was the kind of thing I was interested in as a child [and still]. Small factoids that not too many people knew. I collected them like I collect different sorts of rocks and feathers now.

     After I went to live with Dad, the time came for me to go to the dentist. It was a new dentist to me. A filling had to be repaired. Having never had any sort of pain duller before, the needle in the gum routine was new to me.

     "Can you feel this? Can you fill this?" The dentist leaned over me as he gently tapped the side of my cheek.

     "Yeah, I can feel it." 

     Ten minutes later. "Can you feel this? Can you fill this?"

     "Yeah," I growled. "I can feel that." Another needle went in.

     Ten more minutes. "Can you feel this now?"


     "I can't give you any more. I've given you enough to kill a horse."

     I was impressed.

     Twenty minutes after leaving the office, the numbing agent kicked in. I chewed up the inside of my mouth without knowing it.

     Seems like we forget that old people have teeth that need professional cleaning, partials that need tightening, and dentures that need more than soaking without any scrubbing. I remember one old lady at a nursing home I visited and the dentist there.

     " My-name-is-Vincent. I'm-a-dentist. I-want-to-see-your-teeth." he yelled.

     "But mister, I only have one tooth."

     Dad always took care of his teeth. But by time he got here, he had some teeth missing and a temporary partial plate. 

     He complained that the first dentist was too rough and blamed him for cracking a tooth.

     He complained that the second dentist's office assistant overcharged him for the new permanent partial. [She hadn't].

     He complained that he didn't have money and would have to find a dentist that took "time payments." He refused to go otherwise.

     Once the powers that be finally acknowledged that he should not be managing his own financial affairs, staff at the house lost interest in taking him to any dentist.

     When old people become slow and pokey and difficult to "transport," excuses are made. It's too late [in his life] to take him to a dentist. (He's dying). He needs the extra money to buy incontinence products. All of the dentist offices that I called the other day were closed. Do you suppose that a dentist could come here to see him??? [I'm not running the house. I don't give a damn about the mechanics of him seeing a dentist. I want his partial plate adjusted and possibly a professional teeth cleaning].

sapphoq on life says: I get it. I understand that brushing partials is "gross." I get that helping someone to brush teeth more thoroughly-- especially someone who is resistant to help-- is "not easy." I know that quite a few folks here prefer to let their own teeth rot out of their mouths rather than visit a dentist.
     What you are doing is still wrong. Meanwhile, I keep pushing to get this stuff done.