Monday, July 27, 2009


My computer went off to the computer hospital this afternoon. Paid an arm and leg for a two year service contract with unlimited service, including the several hours to resolve the current problem. If it can be resolved and anything rescued.
I am having withdrawls. Witness this is written on the iTouch.

Give thanks for computer doctors. Hope he can save the genealogy. Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Pain of Aging

For my mother, the pain of aging is real and it is hers. She takes Aleve like a druggie, at least twice daily and at specific times. If we are out and she has not brought a pill with her, it's a big deal. There are some days when the pain is so bad she can barely walk. Those are the days the arthritis has moved into her hip. Those are the days when she just sits, and allows me to do the rest of the "house things". Otherwise, it's her house, her kitchen, her garden ....

For my father, pain is not a major issue. He doesn't hurt. His problem is strength. And balance. And remembering. I'm not sure he really knew me today. His talk was very general, and he asked how it was in Kailua. Then he remember that I am living in Kahala, and Kailua is on a different side of the island. He's got enough memory to know that he isn't remembering, and that's painful.

For my brother and me, the pain is not physical at all. Except when I step on that once-broken foot wrong, or try hurrying down a flight of stairs. Then one ankle or one knee complain. The emotional pain which we are feeling is just as real, just as debilitating in its own way as any physical pain.

Last week our dad did not recognize my brother. At all. If we ask him what he had for breakfast, he does not know. He doesn't remember eating breakfast. He asked me about "the woman who manages the restaurant in the Advertiser Building". He sees her around town a lot, he says. He was asking about the Recreation Director for his nursing home. She has no connection to a restaurant, and he certainly isn't around town where he can bump into her.

We can have good conversations about things that happened before he was about 25 years old. I asked him today how he got his right-out-of-high-school job working on a ship. "I went down and applied, and got the job." he told me.

Why didn't he stay with it longer? "After a year I decided that my dream of being a seaman wasn't what I wanted after all. I resigned and took a job in Long Beach with Dohrmann." That's Dohrmann Hotel Supply, the San Francisco company that in 1939 sent him to Hawaii. It was also the first time that I'd heard he ever wanted to go to sea, although I knew he had been a Sea Scout all through high school. It goes a long way to explain his many years of activity with Waikiki Surf Club and the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association -- two organizations which he apparently helped found.

Today was not one of his better days. He usually devours a small bowl of fresh mango. This afternoon he picked, and did not empty the bowl. He didn't want to talk much, unless I asked a direct question about a time period he actually remembers. He realizes that his roommates are dying -- three since he arrived in the care facility in December 2008. The most recent was earlier this month.

Give thanks for those tidbits that come to light, even from a very tired 95-year-old mind. They are there, but only discovered when one listens, and asks the right questions. Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Episcopal Church in Convention

I am so proud of my Church!

This time I am speaking of TEC, The Episcopal Church in the United States, which is meeting in General Convention this week in Anaheim, California. General Convention is the national legislative meeting of Episcopalians, held every third year. This is where the business of the church is carried out, where big decisions are made -- describing who can be ordained, adding contemporary and inclusive language to liturgy, rebuilding the list of "Holy Men, Holy Women" who are remembered annually in what we used to call "Lesser Feasts and Fasts" .

I am touched by the tokens of love and support from other delegations toward the four dioceses which are regrowing after hugely divisive splits -- especially as reported by friends from the Diocese of San Joaquin. I am impressed that the Bishops of those dioceses have declined to speak about their time with the Archbishop of Canterbury, preserving the deeply personal nature of those conversations. I am intrigued that the Presiding Bishop has chosen a Bantu (from South Africa) word, Ubuntu, as the theme of the 2009 convention. Ubuntu? Bishop Desmond Tutu said in 1999, "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." Sounds a lot like the Hawaiian concept of pono.

This year, in addition to the widely publicized discussion on the criteria for election and ordination of bishops, between discussions of budget priorities and a new emphasis on electronic (as opposed to traditional print) communications, delegates are considering the adding a special liturgy for use at the death of service animals and special pets. As a pet lover, I am touched.

In a sidebar advert at Episcopal Life online, I found the theme of the 2010 Trinity Institute -- Building an Ethical Economy: Theology and the Marketplace. Theology in the economic marketplace? What a refreshing change from the self-centered What's-in-it-for-me? view that has helped to create our current economic chaos! And this from one of the premiere continuing education programs in the Episcopal Church....

Give thanks for the attitude of listening, the honoring of differences between delegates we are seeing in the news from General Convention. Give thanks for those International Representatives who came to learn, who were surprised at what they found, and who go home to share their new understanding. Practice listening. Don't forget to pray!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Halfway through another year ...

I realized this morning, as I looked out at the sunrise, that the days are already beginning to get shorter. We are more than halfway through the calendar year. Where has 2009 gone???

We are finally getting ripe mangoes that have not been attacked by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly. Only one of our two trees has fruit this year, for they have not been pruned or fertilized as they should. There were lots of flowers early on, but we've had wind in the interim and much of the crop has landed on the ground hopelessly immature. But those that survive! About the size of a softball and weighing in at at least 1 pound each, sweet, juicy ... three is all I can carry without a basket. Two or three of those a day would be nice. Today I picked (or picked up) a dozen. Yesterday about the same. We are making mango jam, mango chutney, eating fresh mango at every meal, giving fruit away, taking cut fruit to my father ... and letting the birds have their share, too. The "picking pole" (a wire basket with a foam rubber lining) has a 16' handle. With that I can reach the lowest fruit on the tree. There's at least another 30' of tree above that!

A friend of my brother's has a lychee tree, also large. He's lucky. He has access to a bucket truck -- one of those things with a basket on the end of a boom that allows the telephone and power folk, the tree trimmers and the cable television installers to reach high places without a ladder. We could sure use one of those!!

Yesterday was one of my dad's good days. He inhaled the little bowl of fresh mango. He could carry on a real conversation, and knew who I was talking about when I mentioned a cousin who is fighting pancreatic cancer. Daddy's problem comes in time and place. He knows I belong in California. He knows he grew up in California. Therefore, what am I doing in Hawaii? "What house," he asked, "are my parents living in now?" His father passed in 1948, his mother in 1982.

That's OK. "In the Vista Street house."

He beamed. "I remember when my father built that house. I was about 8 years old, and I remember him laying the floor, telling me how he was putting it down at an angle for strength." He drifted off into his memory for a bit. My grandfather was a shipwright who used his naval architecture training to build two houses for his family -- one in Berkeley, the other in Long Beach, California.

Give thanks for flashes of relative normalcy in the midst of dementia. Let someone know you are thinking about them. Don't forget to pray ....