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Thursday, October 25, 2001

While my sister and I listened in amused recognition this afternoon, Mom and her brother wrangled for a couple of hours over a wide assortment of topics that started with him hitting her over the head with a wooden train (when they were children, duh) and continued up to what he thinks she should do about supplementing her Medicare coverage. It was quite a tour-de-force.

My Uncle Tommy is a survivor. He survived polio as a teenager, and post-polio syndrome as an older man. He's now almost 70 and has cancer that adds to his daily pain. He's bed-ridden, but that doesn't mean he's helpless. I've written before here about how sharp his mind is, even as his body continues to let him down, and from his bed he manages almost all of his own care.

So it was a natural thing for him to start in on Mom about what he thinks she needs to do to make sure she's taken care of. After all, they've known each other for decades, since he was the pesky little brother and she was the beleaguered older sister charged with his care much of the time. Now he has a lot of time on his hands and uses some of it stressing out over her. It's kind of cute, but serious at the same time.

Suzanne drove Mom and me to visit him in the Napa Valley today. I'd told the Boss yesterday I'd be gone all afternoon, so naturally he left a message here at 1:30 (just a few minutes after I left), asking me to please call him when I had a chance. I didn't get back until 7:30 tonight, so I'll have to return his call in the morning and remind him.

Uncle Tommy looked better than he did the last time I visited several weeks ago. He has good and bad days, but don't we all? It's just that his bad days are worse than anything I can imagine. I complain sometimes about how I'm feeling or how unfair life can be, but I'm healthy and mobile and independent. My life is heaven compared to his.

He's a man who's overcome disabilities and lived a full, active life, until just a few months ago. Now he needs help for almost anything , so if it pleases him to berate Mom for not making a phone call or taking an action he thinks is necessary, then good for him. They also spent a lot of time reminiscing about childhood adventures, including some stories Suzanne and I hadn't heard before.

Anyway, we had a good visit today, although I think we wore him out. And in spite of everything I'm glad I have the flexibility in my job that allows me to get over to see him as often as possible.


Today's sunset was more spectacular, but this one from a couple of days ago isn't bad.

On the way back to Santa Rosa this afternoon, the three of us were awestruck by the amazingly brilliant sunset. It was better than any photograph I've posted on these pages. But you'll have to take my word for it, since I left my camera at home.

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