Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm Jane's Domain. And I Belong to a Book Club.

About a year ago I joined the neighborhood book club. It seemed to be a good fit – I like to read and I’m not shy about sharing my opinion about any book I’ve read.

My only hesitation about joining the group was I didn’t want to feel like I had to take notes in order to participate fully in a discussion about the plot and characters of any book. It has been a while since my last college literature course and my study habits are a little rusty. Okay, a LOT rusty.

But I’m glad I joined because we’ve read some pretty interesting and varied books. I tend to stick to one genre and follow a select group of authors. And I realize that life is made up of more than the typical James Patterson “whodunit”!

And, even though there are two former teachers in our group, I’ve never felt like anyone was taking a mental red pen to my words or grading me on my participation.

So this month’s book was Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.  A little different than the other books we’ve read, but something I was eager to read. After all, I was a big fan of The Boss in my younger years and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about him.

Because my mom broke her hip on New Year’s Day and has been in the hospital and in rehab, my schedule has been off and I had difficulty reading the book in a timely manner.

So with the Tuesday book club meeting quickly looming, I did what I used to do in that long-ago college literature course. I crammed and pulled an all-nighter.

Well, sorta. “All-nighters” to me these days mean waking up at one in the morning and reading ‘til about three.

Close enough.

Once I got up in the morning, I read feverishly until I finished the last page, which was about an hour before the meeting started. This was fortunate as it left me enough time to shower and make myself presentable before showing myself in public. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing everyone there was grateful that I’d showered. Ha!

But I found the book surprisingly readable. Maybe it was a little slow getting into it at first because Springsteen wrote a LOT about his very early years and then a LOT about his first bands and about his bandmates.  And I’m not necessarily talking about the E Street Band guys, either.

Reading the book – and consequently re-watching his videos and listening to his music again – reminded me of an earlier time in my life. It made me remember the people with whom I listened to Thunder Road and Tenth Avenue Freezeout in Animal House during my Ohio State years.

And it made me remember the time some coworkers and friends and I won a contest on one of the local radio stations at the time (anyone in Columbus remember 92X?!) We walked away with six tickets to the Springsteen concert in Pittsburgh. My memory is a little faulty these days and I can’t remember if this was back in ’84 or ’85, but it was at the height of the Born in the U.S.A. era and we were so excited to take our road trip and attend the concert.

I even took the time to paw through some old photos and unearthed the picture of three of us on our way to the concert. Fun memories!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band did not disappoint back then. His concert was more than three hours long and we were thoroughly entertained and sang along to every word. Well, except for certain songs. Like who knows what he’s singing on the song, Blinded By the Light

(And, okay, so I looked it up: “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” Ah. THAT’S what he’s singing!)

So I got a little nostalgic and my life got tangled up with his life – and so I had myself a little walk down memory lane while learning more about The Boss. (Although I read somewhere that he doesn’t like that nickname…)

Springsteen may be 67 years old today, but from all signs, he’s still going strong and his concerts are still more than three hours long. That takes a lot of dedication and perseverance.

And after reading his autobiography, I understand. 

If you were ever a fan, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping I get a chance to read next month’s book selection in a more timely manner. I don’t think I can pull another “all-nighter.” I still haven’t recovered from the last one.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mom's Turn

Added 1-15-17. Mom in rehab facility - doing great!
So as I sit here in yet another hospital waiting room waiting for mom to come out of surgery for the broken hip she somehow sustained yesterday, it occurs to me that I’ve been in far too many hospital waiting rooms through the years.

From my dad’s many hospitalizations – heart bypass and pacemaker surgeries, problems caused by the blood thinners he was on that landed him in the hospital numerous times and even the time I drove to Alliance to find him gray and barely able to draw breath due to the pneumonia  that was choking him, he was always the one in the hospital bed – not mom.

And even though this hospital is different than the one where dad passed away only six short months ago, it feels all too familiar.

Now that dad is gone, it’s apparently mom’s turn. And it’s so odd to see her tiny form in a hospital bed wearing the requisite hospital gown that snaps up the back and exposes her thin, white shoulders.

The difference is that with all of Dad’s hospitalizations, I was still the kid – the daughter who came to keep mom company as she sat in hospital waiting rooms for dad to come out of surgery. I didn’t have to bring the insurance forms or provide any information to the nursing staff who were there to help make dad better. Mom was always the strong one who conferred with the doctors about the best course of treatment for dad.

I don’t even remember my mother ever being in the hospital, although she surely was when she had her children and when she had to have an emergency D&C after losing her last baby over 50 years ago.

But all that doesn’t matter, because she’s in the hospital now and it’s my turn to be the “person” for mom – the one who has to bring the insurance forms and provide information to the nursing staff who want to ease mom’s pain and make her better.

It’s an odd role reversal that I’m still not comfortable with, but I do it without question because I love my mother and I hate to see her hurting.

Since last night when Vince and I went to the Emergency Room where she had been transported after an X-ray showed the fracture in her hip to today when I held her hand to comfort her while we waited for her to be wheeled into surgery, mom has continually apologized for “causing so much trouble” and “putting us through this.” I’ve soothed her, I’ve told her she doesn’t need to apologize, and that it’s not a big deal, but she sticks with that theme and it upsets her to be the one needing help. Sometimes I can make her smile by agreeing with her that she’s being a pain in the patootie – and I feel a small sense of victory by getting that small reaction.

I tell her that she has always been there for us, but she dismisses that notion as if she were merely doing her job.

I don’t talk about it because mom won’t remember any of  it, but I remember all those times when mom was there for me. When I fell off the monkey bars and cracked open my head and had to have stitches – to the time in college when I had to have my wisdom teeth extracted and was put under anesthesia. When I woke up sobbing (because I had pretended like it was no big deal, but inside I was terrified of having surgery), it was mom by my side who held my hand and comforted me.

Dad was there most of those times when I was a kid and needed medical help to get better – but  mom was there always.

And, while I know it’s going to be a difficult road ahead because hip replacement surgery on anyone is difficult enough, let alone on someone who has dementia and is 92-years-old – we are going to be by her side, comforting her and holding her hand.

But if you want to say a quick prayer for all of us – or send positive vibes our way – we would be most appreciative.

Hospital waiting rooms are not my favorite place to be.