Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looking Inward

First things first: my wonky knee seems to have decided that, as long as I treat it with respect and lots of TLC, it just might behave. Fortunately, the orthopedist I met with this week agrees. Since I've been mostly pain-free for the past several days and can now pretty much walk any distance so long as I've got the time to get there, I'm willing to pursue self-care and alternative therapies. Hence the illustration: I'm visualizing a healthy, happy knee joint. If I can see it, it will BE!

My intuition tells me that treatment should also include oral administration of several ounces of vinum rufus daily. (Since overdosing can adversely affect balance, I do need to exercise caution!) (Oh, and I need to cautiously exercise.) It goes without saying that I'm happy the S(urgery) -word wasn't recommendation number one. I understand that rehabbing a knee is not an overnight accomplishment, but I'd just as soon skip the cutting and scraping and 20% co-payment if letting time heal yields the same result, anyway.

While various medical practitioners have been peering into the innermost workings of my left knee, I've been also been looking inward -- and backward. A family friend, the man who introduced my parents to each other, has been going through his massive photograph collection and sending me pictures from the past thirty years or so. Ron was the self-designated documentarian of every social gathering he attended, and even if his ever-present camera was sometimes mildly intrusive, I am really touched that he has saved all his photos and is sharing them with the subjects now. His latest batch to me included a photo of my pregnant-with-intellikid self and TMFKAH*, which I could have done without adding to my collection, but the rest of the pics are priceless. (* = The Man Formerly Known As Husband)

Because my father is a subject in many of the shots, and because his death occurred around this time some seven years ago, I've been prone to bouts of melancholy this week. Why now, after all these years, does it feel like I need some sort of closure, and how the heck do I go about getting that? Maybe it's the sudden flood of photos and memories bringing it on, this feeling of not having done enough while I had the chance. Yet I know that my father was an adult, made his own choices with a more or less lucid mind. Still, I am angry that one of those choices was to let his phone bill go unpaid and cut off the one means of communication my sister and I, living 400 miles away, had. I'm also angry that his friends and brothers who lived nearer to him didn't intervene when they saw the hoarding getting out of hand and the house literally falling apart around him.

Last but not least, I'm unsure of what role I might have played in my father's decline. He and I weren't especially close, but we hadn't had any fallings-out, either. I suppose I should have seen his addictions as a symptom of something larger, rather than as an extended mid-life crisis; then again, what could I have done differently?

Deep down, I know the answer is, "Probably, nothing." My father was a notorious marcher to his own drummer, and of course his individualism is one of the traits I loved about him. I guess that Ron's photos and memories that accompany them are just making me realize that I still miss my dad, and of course that's an okay thing. Even if I wasn't expecting it.

"Harald with kitten in pocket, 8/30/79"

(This is weird - I just realized that I'm older now than my dad was in this photo.)


  1. this was a wistful and tender post, and i can resonate with your feelings about your father, although luckily, my dad and i reconciled our differences and were in touch regularly right up to his recent death.

    on the knee thing... as a surgery and other invasive procedure survivor, avoid the invasive procedures for as long as you can!!!

  2. Thanks for your comments on both counts, Harlequin. It throws me a bit to have this sudden sadness, but I'm seeing that grieving is a complicated thing, not following any rules or formulas! And the remembering is actually good.

    Now I just need to remember not to lift anything heavier than the dog (all 14 pounds of her) and to stand up very, very straight when I walk!

  3. So your saying your going to attend to your kneeds then eh?

    Nope probably wasn't much you could have done to change your father. But like you say the grieving can come and go and come back again.

  4. I know the trouble of a bad knee. I discovered that my doc was right about exercising it, but it took me 10 years to start. I hope that a wee bit o' walking and "respect" work for you, Intell.

    My parents' birthdays are a week apart in May, before and after Mothers Day. Some anniversaries I can do without, but what makes us melancholy doesn't kill us. At least maybe until we're ready to keel over, anyway.

    It's Easter, and chocolate won't alleviate either pains of the knee or the heart, but it washes down well with the right wine.

  5. Walking man - Yep, that's right, and yep, you're right!

    Doug, I don't do Easter, but I do eagerly anticipate the annual reappearance of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. I hope to enjoy one with a glass of Shiraz after dinner :-)

  6. I remember thinking on my 30th birthday that I was no longer a kid and now responsible for my actions, even though I was married with two kids at the time. It's a funny thing about one's perceptions of mortality, like realizing you are now older than friends and family where when they passed on. For some reason, I have always seen death in the abstract. I'm not a mourner. Life moves on. But every now and then, I have, I guess we all have, those moments of reflection like yours.

  7. Oh wow. I remember you once commented on my blog regards a personal moment I posted, that you came over to my blog for a dose of cynicism and got...this...which brought a tear to the eye. Well, ditto kid.

    The conclusion I have come to about my mother, who basically abandoned me to my grandparents is, she was human and made damned altering mistakes. And the real truth is, I couldn't and can't get into her mind and reasoning. And, even with the resentment that still lingers...just a bit, mind you...I sometimes am overcome with the grief of her lost. All said and done, she was my mother. He was your father.

    Beautiful post D.

  8. Mr. C - you said it - life moves on. But I want to carry bits of the past along with me, too!

    JJ, I guess we're even then ;-) It is an interesting but ultimately useless exercise to ponder the "might have beens," isn't it?

  9. So much going on in this post! A dozen responses come to mind and I find I need an infusion vinum rufus, myself.

    First, I just read of new research into OCD (hoarding) in Scientific American Mind. Since they charge for online articles, it might be easier to pick up a copy somewhere.

    Second, empathy for the loss, the love and the grief for a flawed and confusing parent. Your photo benefactor opened Pandora's box...blessing and curse.

    Third, gladness for you that your ortho has integrity. I look forward to hearing that your PT is helping. And that happy face knee? Great image! I have reservations about thinking a joint into wellness...but that's just my little obsessive rant against positivity/thought control stuff in general.

  10. Hey Intelli- First off- I love the smiley face on ur knee...that cracked me up! Secondly, being someone who only really made a connection with their father in the last few years...I understand how u feel. I often wonder how I'll react when he passes away and referring to ur post...I'm sure it will be similar.

    Ur such a lovely and significantly introspective person Intelli. Hope u find total peace with all of this. Btw, love the pic of ur dad with kitten in his pocket. Very telling of his true nature I'm sure. :)

  11. Hi, Nance - I'll check the university library for the Scientific American article. (They might start charging us for health insurance, but the library's still free!!) Every so often I'll see or read something that reminds me of my dad - one of the things I wish most is that he got to know my intellikid, whose young adult self would surely charm him.
    -- As for the power of positive thinking, I don't rely on that alone, but the body-mind connection is one of the most powerful. I don't buy into all that "Gift" mumbo-jumbo that was making the rounds a while back, though.

    Steph, the one thing I can tell you is to not take anything for granted regarding your loved ones. But I bet you already figured that out, yourself :-) Thanks for your kind comments!


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