Life on the far side

It’s been eight weeks now since we’ve undertaken the care of my in-laws. It feels like it’s been eight years.

If you think elder care is hard, think again

Think again because it’s hard, so, so very hard. Even though we planned for all manner of possibilities and contingencies, we never expected the events that have unfolded over the past eight weeks. It’s like living through a novel, or a live-action movie. What you thought was going to be hard turns out not to be, and what you thought would be easy, turns out to be almost insurmountable. There have been sleepless nights, and long conversations between Gary and me trying to come up with new strategies. This has required all our life experiences and expertise in handling logistics, people management, plan development. And just when you think you have a workable plan, well, you find out you don’t.

LHIN is amazing

Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) here in West Grey have been amazing. I cannot speak highly enough regarding the professionalism of the team, their dedication, their remarkable willingness to help and go beyond what’s required. From Personal Support Workers (PSW) to the coordinator of the palliative care team we’ve been assigned, every professional has been an invaluable asset in the small army which sweeps through our home on a weekly basis, all of this under the restrictions required by COVID-19. There are RNPs, nutritionist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social workers, counselor–all of them working in concert with one another and providing world-class care. Time and again I’ve been astonished by what they’ve been able to provide.

Circling back to COVID-19

This pandemic has been an overriding concern throughout these past eight weeks, because we’re a household with four of us at high risk. So we’ve been exercising the extreme end of caution in our protocols, which just seems logical. Yet it has been gobsmackingly astonishing some people just don’t get that, who think this pandemic has been overblown, because after all they don’t know of anyone who has contracted THE COVID, and despite being warned if they wish to visit it will have to be through an exterior door, at least six feet distant, and they must wear mask and gloves, they still show up, mask and gloves in hand, but not in place, and not until being told, sternly, to apply said mask and gloves do they do so, grudgingly, even laughingly, with the mask dipping down under their nose. Another caution ensues. The mask gets put into place. For us a mental note is logged this will be the first and last visit allowed, because you just can’t trust some people to exercise common sense. Someone once told me common sense isn’t. They were right.

And while dealing with eldercare and a pandemic…

…there’s also the necessity of tying up all the loose ends of the publishing house. For the most part that’s gone smoothly. Removing authors’ books from distribution was easy through Lightning Source, Amazon, Kobo, Google, and Smashwords. ACX, however, has been an entirely different matter, one fraught with frustration trying to deal with a company bent on draconian protocols, even though those protocols leave me in breach of contract. At the bottom of it is a blind behemoth of a machine whose sole purpose is to generate revenue without thought for the people behind the commodities their selling. That end of the publishing house may languish for up to seven years. It’s like bashing on the walls of Mordor, or the Ice Wall of Winterfell.

Gardening as a tranquilizer

I’ve started to say to whoever will listen: Some people take tranquilizers; I garden. And in acknowledging the anodyne gardening provides me, it makes me realize there is one quality I did inherit from my mother, and she from hers, and her from her father, and that is a love of plunging your fingers into good, dark earth, of making things grow, of sitting amid the fruit and the veg and the flowers and the scent and sounds and feeling yourself part of something wider, older, of seeping out into that timeless river and saying, “Yes, this is what the world is about.” It’s the realization that the worries about eldercare, of dealing with someone’s mental illness, of trying to ensure the well-being of the authors you’ve had to let down, of the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and a political neighbour in flames literally and metaphorically to the south–all that, in the end, is just background noise, a blip, in the stream of life and the miracle of this planet. And somehow all those cares don’t seem so urgent anymore. You learn how to breathe again, slowly, in, out, and let your pulse settle into the rhythms of the garden, so that birdsong is what you hear, not the pounding of your head. It’s the rich, heady scent of peonies you smell, not antiseptic and antibacterial cream. And you realize it’s going to be okay. All of it. Idiot people. The pandemic. The elders you’ve undertaken to shelter. The authors you’ve set loose upon the world. All of it’s going to be okay.

And then maybe, one day…

…I’ll find myself at the keyboard again, sailing with Hekja and Haki to Vinland, and that novel will come to life just as my garden, just as will I.

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