Visits

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Baseball Will Never Feel the Same

Yes I'm still here. I've just been put out of action for a number of days by a new episode in the next chapter of the epic tale known as The Lurking Plague--If You Didn't Believe it Could Get Worse, You Were Dead Wrong. 

Day by day, I began to develop a strange feeling, at first just at night, of having something stuck in my throat. This symptom expanded to include a need to constantly swallow, and the swallowing then began to cause intense and relentless nausea.


I called Dr. Tutwuri, the ENT I had been seeing for some months now, and she suggested that I see a gastrohepatologist. This was not something I wanted to do, but she stuck by her guns and gave me no choice, really, but to shut up and suffer or see the gastrohepatologist. 


(I am thankful, by the way, for the help of Louis and Wayne in this regard, as I truly felt too ill to make it on my own to the office, especially riding a motorbike and at nighttime when I can't see well anyway. They were very kind to convey me to the clinic and to stay for the examination and discussion with the doctor). 

Beforehand, I had written down a summary of my  history with the plague so far, which Dr. Wibawa, a soft-spoken, straight-faced gentleman, read dispassionately, and I thought, somehow, a bit doubtfully. I don't know, perhaps one corner of his mouth twitched upward toward the hint of a smile, or a smirk, toward the end of his reading. He then proceeded with a short examination, returned to his desk, and as Louis and I rambled through various elaborations, he wrote prescriptions on a pad, occasionally glancing up or muttering "Mm hm." One tends to think that one's own case of an illness is outstanding, particular, in need of careful explication, but I suppose that to a doctor they all look pretty much the same. He sees such-and-such symptoms over and over and treats them over-and-over with such and such meds. 


"Fill these prescriptions," Dr. Wibawa drones, "give two lab samples before you go, and then get an upper endoscopy tomorrow."


His nurse hands me the envelop containing the 'invitation' to get an endoscopy.


So while Louis arranges things at the pharmacy counter, I am ushered into a separate room for the lab tests. First a tube of blood is taken (of which, I would mention, I have very little remaining in my veins after four months of intermittent lab tests, and then the young man who has drawn the blood hands me a little plastic tube with a little plastic spoon in it. 


"What am I to do with this?"


"Poop," the young man says. 


"Excuse me?"


"For da poop," he says. 


"Now?"


"Yes." 


"But I don't have to go now."


"Tomorrow. You poop. Bring da poop to da clinic. Open at 8 o'clock." 



"You mean I have to poop at exactly 8 or get the poop to the clinic at exactly 8."

"Clinic open at 8. You poop when you want. But not more than 2 hours." 

"Two hours for …?"


"For to bring da poop to da clinic." 


I'm feeling a bit stressed at this. I'm picturing speeding to the clinic, being stopped by the police, and trying to explain I am transporting an important cargo of poop to the clinic and that it, like a carton of yogurt, has a pressing expiration time. 


Well, upon finally arriving home, going on 11 now, I take the two pills, pop a piece of bread in the toaster for the required meal after taking the pills, and then, having eaten, crash on the bed. I had slept only a very few hours in the last few days and I am totally exhausted. And--wonders never cease--I fell asleep immediately. Heaven. 


The next day, I am able to produce and deliver da poop, and moreover, what I produce seems conveniently custom-made for the little plastic tube! By 1 o'clock, I am on my way to the hospital for the endoscopy. 


As it turns out, the hospital is located in the dim recesses of outer Denpasar, like Pluto in our solar system, and so I decided to take GrabCar. I can't imagine driving the scooter that far in my present condition. 


As with all local hospitals (as opposed to international hospitals suited to wealthy ex-pat customers), BaliMed looks more like a warehouse than a hospital, although on the inside the quality improves to the level of an inner-city bus station.


Take a number, have a seat. And so I am sitting there, wondering whether they really do endoscopies in bus stations. 


At last, after a slow-motion clerical flurry of papers, I am ushered into a closet which will serve as the endoscopy suite. A nurse lies me down on my side, places a towel under my chin, and calls the doctor over. 


"You have opted for local anesthesia only, correct?" 


We interrupt this broadcast for a test of the cognitive function system.

You see, when I registered at the front test, I was given the option of choosing local anesthetic or general anesthetic. I did recall having had an general anesthesia in the past-- twice, fact--once for wisdom tooth removal and once for insertion of a kidney stone catheter--but I did not recall general anesthesia in connection with a previous endoscopy. In fact, I barely remember the endoscopy from many years ago. Additionally, I noted that the procedure performed with general anesthesia was significantly more expensive than with local, and that I, after multiple doctor visits over the last few months, was significantly poorer than usual.

We now return you to the examination room

"Yes," I said, "that's correct." 

"Are you sure?"

"Yes." 

"Okay. Ready?"

"Proceed."

The nurse turns my head to the side, firmly holds my chin down, and the doctor proceeds. 

Oh. My. God. 

Who knew that an aluminum baseball bat could be shoved down the throat of a human being, slid in and out and back and forth, wiggled around? Every time I thought he had inserted the instrument as far as it could go, he inserted it further.

"Okay?" the doctor said, 

"Gluck," I said. 

"Relax," the nurse said, wiping snot and saliva from my chin.

Further again, and further yet.

"Okay?"

"Gluck!"

"Relax."

And then it was over. Praise God. I live. 

Again, we interrupt this broadcast for a test of the cognitive function system. 

I had been concerned from the start of my hospital visit--fixated, really--about who was to send the results of this study to the clinic, which was far away in the center of Denpasar. I did not want to have to pick it up and deliver it myself, and yet this is what the folks at the front desk had seemed to suggest. So I questioned the doctor as he studied the results from the endoscopy on his computer screen. Am I to pick this up, or will it be delivered to the clinic. I mean, do I have to return here and pick up the results? Or will they be sent to Dr. Wibawa's clinic? 

By this point in my one-sided quandary, the doctor had begun to tap at a little plate pinned to his chest, eventually drawing my attention to it. The plate reads: Dr. Wibawa.

"Oh! It's you. You are Dr  Wibawa!

This, I reckon, is either proof that all Asians do look the same, or that my brain is more deeply fried than I have realized. The latter, I think. 

The doctor--Dr. Wibawa, actually, whom I met with in the first place at the clinic--finishes by asking why Dr. Tutwuri thought I had a fungal infection. 

"Well, she did a throat swab, and the swab showed a fungal infection."

"That's strange," the doctor says, raising an eyebrow, and then two. "I see no evidence whatsoever of a fungal infection. None at all. It's a very specific thing. You can't miss it."

What does he mean by this. Can he possibly mean that Dr. Tutwuri has been treating me three months for a condition that I do not have? 

Who can say? Anything is possible in Indonesia. 

Now it's time to pay the bill and get the hell out of here. I rush down to the first floor, but cannot find the front desk. A helpful clerk tells me that it is on the second floor, where I had registered less than an hour ago. Remember? 

So okay, back to the second floor. Come to think of it, this does look familiar. I find the cashier and wait my turn and pay my bill, and then I'm out of there. 

Except that I cannot find the elevator. 

It turns out, as is pointed out by another helpful clerk, that I am standing directly in front of the elevator, which, if I turn around, I will see. 

As I ride home in the Grab Car I feel unusually well, despite having had the baseball ball inserted into my throat. Or is it because of this? Could this, after all, be the cure? If so, I hope that only a single treatment will be needed. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Journey

As I was trudging up the steps to Starbucks this morning, a painful, meandering, potentially dangerous exercise, and a rather slow one too, my thoughts went back to olden days when I would walk miles to a lake for a day of fishing, or climb to the 7200 foot level of a towering hill just to see what I could see, and it did not seem a miraculous feat then, or an unusual one. It was normal, hardly worth thinking about in and of itself. What bliss it seems now to imagine trotting up these steps, for instance, and not feeling like I'm going to collapse at the top. How completely outside the realm of the wildest imagination it would have been back then in those olden days to picture myself lightheaded and out of breath at the top of these ten stairs, having to stop and rest my legs before moving on the remaining dozen yards or so to the doorway. I suppose that we all enjoy our youth and our health, but we do not fully know why. How could we? You have to be there, unfortunately. And once you're there, there's no going back. Youth, as the old saying goes, is wasted on the young. I don't know whether that is true. But I do know that it is fully appreciated only in hindsight. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Docter Lagi

Back to the doctor today--the neurologist, anyway. I don't care about the blood pressure and the borderline diabetes, but I did need those anti-weird-internal-heat pills. I don't know what they are, but they work fairly well. Usually two a day. In the morning I begin to feel very hot, so take a pill. Feel okay until afternoon, when the hot feeling returns, so I take another. They are fairly expensive, unfortunately. My problems always have expensive taste. And this, he says, is a chronic condition. What else, right? It is a bit difficult to communicate with this neurologist, for he speaks very softly and very quickly, forgetting that 1) Indonesian is a second language for me and 2) that I can't hear very well. 

I also finally broke down and sent a message to the ENT doc, as the infection persists, though not as bad as before. The thing is, the only thing that helps is Afrin spray, and one is not supposed to use this over a long period of time, as the spray itself becomes a problem. But what else to do? If I don't use it, my head is soon stuffed, I can't breathe through my nose, and facial pressure and headache starts in. Vicious circle. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Makan Siang dan Lain

When I went out to the parking bay this morning, three little boys ran up and asked if I could give the money. Poor little tykes definitely got the wrong guy. Not because I wouldn't give them some money if I had it, but because I don't have it. But there is this persistent myth here in Bali that all westerners are rich. Walking ATMs. Just ask, and they shall receive. I certainly wish it were true, but alas ….

Anyway, later on I had lunch with Louis and my stepson, Sasha, as well a couple of unidentified friends of Louis'. Apparently I know them, but I have no recollection of who they are or why I know them. Nothing new there. 

We went to a restaurant that featured it's own little zoo, with exotic birds roaming about (peacocks and swans and such-like) and tropical fish in a half dozen viewing tanks, and some of the worst food for the stupidest prices I've ever seen. Luckily, I wasn't picking up the bill, which must have been crowing a million Rupiah for the five of us. Those small boys ought to camp outside Louis' gate, I reckon. 

I'm topping off the day with a trip out for coffee in the evening rather than, as is usual, in the morning. In the evening here at the Renon Starbucks there is always a bit of a party atmosphere--lots of young people gathering together for chatting or dating.  Oh, and one old man. 


Monday, June 17, 2019

Cricket

A long time ago, I was sitting on a rock on the shore of a lake when I noticed the dried brown body of a cricket clinging to the side of the rock. This is called the exoskeleton. A cricket slips out of it's shell as it grows and emerges as a rubbery new creature. It slips out of itself and becomes itself and leaves itself behind. The shell left behind is like a sample, a display model. It is a perfect cricket, yet no longer a cricket at all. The shell is perfectly preserved, as if the cricket had taken great care when it climbed out of itself. It is like a ship in a bottle, and also the builder of the ship in the bottle. The old cricket is fragile, papery, yet rigid, tenacious, clinging to itself and to the point from whence it departed. People who  have died, if they were beloved, leave this sort of shell as well, not on a rock or on a blade of grass, but on the minds of those who loved them. Here, those who have died, though absent, are prefect, tenacious, urgent, eternal. One flick of my finger would have removed the reminder the cricket had left behind. A gust of wind would do the same. But I  lifted not a finger. I looked out over the swaying grasses in the shallows and to the ripples beyond and to the green where the water was deep and caught the sun on the furrows made by the wind, and I lifted not a finger either to the tear that made its way down my cheek.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Numb

I heard this morning a news commentator describe the current character of reaction to Donald Trump's ongoing circus of reprehensible remarks as "outrage fatigue". I had said something similar in a previous post. It seems that a person's stomach for outrage can hold just so much. It becomes something else. It becomes numbness. It becomes apathy. Time was when I would respond immediately to a reprehensible statement from Trump, expressing my disgust and disbelief so that I might receive in turn an acknowledgment from others, an agreement, a sharing of the sanity still active in the world. 

It is interesting to me that responses fell away first from my American acquaintances, my fellow countrymen and women, to whom, it seemed, this should have mattered most of all. It was the non-Americans here in Bali who clung longest to outrage--Lithuanian, Australian, British, German, Chinese, Indonesian. How is  it that they cared more than we? Is outrage easier from a great distance? Is outrage easier according to degree of separation? Or is the typical American simply more prone to apathy. It is said that historically in combat American soldiers, though better supplied and equipped than their opponents, have been more likely under pressure to fail in morale, to give up. Is this the trait now on display in the life of our nation? Have we become so feeble?


Or is the problem more that our outrage dies in the air, unreceived? Those whom we have placed in high positions have gone deaf. When even the officers cower and shrink away on the battlefield, is it any wonder that the soldiers throw up their hands in surrender?  


So I rarely comment now on our deplorable leader, for I too have become apathetic, and know now that nothing will be done, nothing will change. This is us. These are the limp and sagging United States of America, tired, listless, anemic, numb. Heartbreaking. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Diet Plan

I was trying to map out an eating plan this morning suitable to my three major health problems--or let's not say problems (we don't say 'problems' these days)--let's say challenges--suitable, I say, to my three major health challenges (not counting old age)--high  blood pressure, borderline diabetes, and incurable fungal infection, and it quickly became apparent that I am to avoid pretty much all foods except lettuce. Well, lettuce and a few other non-nutritious additives, such as pepper and paprika. Although this seems a prescription for a less than mouth watering diet, it can be said, on the positive side, that it would definitely be a money saver, and moreover a labor saver as far as food preparation and clean-up are concerned. Really, one need not even use a plate or utensils, but just hold the head of lettuce in one hand and the pepper shaker in the other. No muss, no fuss. 

On the other hand, I have always found the view of a friend here compelling--to whit, that one should freely eat what one feels inclined at the moment to eat, trusting the advice of his own body on the matter. In other words, what it wants, it wants for a reason. If it is saying I need meat, eat meat. If it is saying I need a chocolate ├ęclair, eat a chocolate ├ęclair. It is a pleasing view to be certain, and a stress reliever, too. Nonetheless, I have to admit that, given my past experience in life, whenever I see a box of Fruit Loops, my body says it wants Fruit Loops. I cannot honestly suppose that a steady diet of Fruit Loops would be very healthy, despite whatever claims my body might make. 

The curious thing about this array of challenges, you see, is that what is allowed for the first is not allowed for the second, and what is allowed for the second is not allowed by the third. And so on, a vicious circle. And that is how we end up with lettuce. It seems that if my body has made any plan at all, it is to lay clever traps and, in this manner, eventually assassinate me. It is my own worst enemy.. 

So I guess the solution is to eat a balanced diet of everything that is not good for me (which, after all, is everything). Balanced, I mean, in the sense that an equality should be maintained between the various bad food substances, avoiding a lot of one bad substance at the expense of another. Along with as much lettuce as possible, or, rather, palatable. All of which means, as it turns out, that I won't need to change my present diet at all. 

Problem, I mean challenge, solved.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Discussion

I had the pleasure of conversing with my stepson, Sasha, for a few hours yesterday. He's a pensive, philosophically minded young man who speaks his mind on social issues with unapologetic fairness (which may sound like a contradiction in terms, but stand by).  It is his view (and mine) that social and professional intercourse in America in our times has been sadly corrupted by an invasive spirit of  political correctness, in school, in politics, in social interaction, in gender dynamics, in racial discourse, such that one must stay between the proper lines or risk instant and harsh censure.  This leads to a reductionism across the board such that thoughtful discussion is rendered feeble, confined as it is to certain predetermined boundaries and positions. Sasha described English teachers who impose feminist ideology, history professors who timidly teach Readers' Digest versions of complex historical periods and conflicts, social interactions that have been crippled by a sort of universal fear of stepping over the line, or of not knowing securely where exactly the line is. I would not want to be a young person having to operate  in this atmosphere, and neither does Sasha especially. He has a mind that is ready to test boundaries, to openly interrogate issues and attitudes, but of course he also wants to succeed academically and socially. To insist that literature and history conform to the brittle paranoia of present-day standards and sensibilities is the very best way to learn nothing about literature and history. And yet if you want to get those grades and move up the ladder, academically, professionally, socially, you'd better tow the line.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Old Times in Black and White

In an early 1950s episode of Ozzie and Harriett various people are coming down with a head cold, first Ozzie's son, Ricky, and then his neighbor, Thorny. David, Ricky's brother, is also given an injection of antibiotics (yes, injection) just in case. Of course, this is good for a laugh in hindsight because, no, antibiotics did not cure common colds in that time any more than they can in the present day. But it's interesting to see this take on a medication that was then quite new--a miracle drug. As Harriett tells Ozzie, who also seems to be coming down with the cold, "You'd better get to the doc right away and have an injection." Ozzie declines, swearing his undying allegiance to an amazing elixir used throughout his childhood by his own mother and drinks two bottles to prove his point. This turns out to be a mixture of ginger, sassafras and 20 percent alcohol, so that Ozzie is indeed perfectly happy with the treatment. It is little bits like this that make the show really more entertaining than it was in its own time (and, as I watch the episodes, especially the earlier ones, it was quite an entertaining show on its own merits). Aside from references to miracle cures and astounding new technologies (like the amazing new Hotpoint oven and range, for instance), there are countless chuckle worthy snippets of behaviors and beliefs that are now perfectly archaic--conventions of proper dress and etiquette, of the place of the woman, and of the man too for that matter, of overtly religious material, of expectations in courtship, and so on. Maybe that's why I like watching these old shows so much, for the layered dimensions of nostalgia, of a time and a way now as dim and grainy in memory as the screen on the black and white TV set. They are, in their own way, a record of the past that is more immediate, more accessible than that which one finds in the history book. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Sasha

My stepson, Sasha, aka Patrik (the latter because Indonesians have a hard time pronouncing the word Sasha, just as is the case with Richard and my own substitute Will) has come to visit and will be in Bali for a month. Sasha formerly lived here, for about 5 years,with his mother and I, but returned to America several years ago to live with his natural father. It is always a pure joy when he comes to visit, as he has done every year since leaving, and I'm looking forward to doing a  lot of talking and laughing with him. We all got together yesterday at the Starbucks in Plaza Renon. 

Prism

One of the stories in Ted Chiang's collection, Exhalation, concerns a far future gadget called a prism, a gadget about the size of a present-day laptop, a quantum machine which, among other things, allows users to communicate with alternate selves who live in their own plane of possibility based on life choices made by the self using the prism. Of course, the alternate selves, whom as far as they are concerned on not alternate at all, are using their own prisms as well, without which no connection could have been made. 

Well, I had not set out to explain the quantum mechanics of Chiang's imagination, though in doing so, I've discovered an additional facet of Mr. Chiang's talent--that being the ability to make the ridiculous sound reasonable. But no, I meant to say that this story left me with some interesting thoughts about how we look back on our lives, how we regret certain things, how we sometimes idealize the choices we did not make. If only, you know? And were we fated in any case to make the choices we made? Are the results, whether positive or negative, a product of the choice itself or of own's own manner of handling things in life (any life).  


When we make one choice, we discard all others. These others have a life of their own--in Chiang's story as alternate selves on their own timeline; in real world terms as what we would be had we done things properly, or at least differently. In short, we have created living figments, ghosts, and are haunted by our own creations. 


It is, as I say, very difficult to describe the setting Chiang has created here, and, again, it leaves me with new appreciation for his particular talent. Come to think of it, he does this in quite a number of the stories contained in Exhalation, so that I am newly impressed when I consider the thing. Not that all of the stories in the collection are successful. They aren't. There are a few nearly perfect gems, and most of the rest at least give the reader something to ponder. In all, Chiang has invited us into alternate worlds that seem at the same time both wildly unlikely and eerily familiar.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Speaking of ...

Speaking of Takut the dog, I've noticed that his ears, like Viana's, are tuned to the comings and goings of a particular motorbike. The only difference is that while Takut seems to readily identify the motor sound made by the bike he's watching for, Viana must duck at the sound of pretty much any bike. It also seems clear from their separate reactions that for Takut the sound of the bike is a welcome thing whereas for Viana it is something to avoid. When Takut hears the motor, he will hurry out the door and down the street, while Viana seeks to hide until it passes. It's a mystery. Who can this bike belong to? A father, a brother, an uncle? Why is Takut excited about seeing the owner while Viana avoids being seen? I asked Viana about it once, but she offered no meaningful answer. I've not bothered to ask Takut. 

And speaking of Viana, the girl seems to have disappeared. Haven't seen hide nor hair of her in a couple weeks. Perhaps someone has told her that the villa is a 'place of solitude' and that children (and dogs) are not welcome. Or maybe she's just busy with her little friends. Who knows? But I kind of miss the little brat. I hope that no one has gone out of their way to make her feel unwelcome or unwanted. There's nothing I hate more than unkindness to children. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Someone's Knockin' at the Door

The black dog, whom I call Takut, meaning 'afraid' in Bahasa, is about to give himself better reason than usual to actually be afraid. 

As is his usual  habit, Takut had gone outside the apartment complex for the night, and then, as is also his usual habit, showed up at the entry at about 4 o'clock in the morning wanting back in. Given that my own front door is only feet away from the entryway door, it is I who he has cast in role of 24 hour personal doorman. 

Generally, I am able to get up and stumble out to the entryway to open the door. I had had a hard night, however, and just couldn't quite rouse myself, despite the growing violence of his assault upon the door. I figured he would go away eventually.

By the time I woke again, at about 7 o'clock, the dog was still scratching. 

Upon opening the door, I found that he had made large gouges in the wood, and had actually torn off an ornamental part of the door's surface. 

"Boy, are you in trouble now," I said. 

Unimpressed, Takut simply headed back to his daytime home beneath the floor of the back patio, from whence he will not emerge until evening. 

The worst thing about this, really, is that I can't help but suspect that I will be blamed, merely because I am kind to the dog whenever I see him, and throw him a bone if I happen to have one in the house. That's enough to make him my dog.

Who does Takut actually belong to? I have no idea. Just as I have no idea who little Viana belongs to. Is he a stray dog, and is Viana a stray kid? I don't know. I am friendly to Viana as well, but that does not make her mine any more than the dog is mine. 

Nonetheless, I can hear it now. That's the guy who invites dogs and children into No Dogs and No Children allowed villas.

Good grief. Another fine mess a dog has gotten me into. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Augmentin

Looks like I was right about this persistent infection in the sinuses being bacterial rather than fungal. After two days of Augmentin, I woke up this morning  to find that all of the congestion had flowed to the surface and could be expelled by some vigorous nose blowing. My God, what a relief it is to be breathing freely again and to feel clear and free from the pressure in the face and head.  There is some residual sniffing, and some tenderness in the throat, but I 'm hoping that those are the final gasps of this long, depressing illness. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Blockhead

Boy if I thought I was sick before, I guess I gotta think again. Woke up this morning to find that my head had somehow been filled with cement from chin to brow. The original blockhead. This of course was accompanied by a tremendous headache, perhaps the worst headache of my life. My nose and eyes felt as frozen as those of a figure on Mt. Rushmore. My throat was sore as well and I felt nauseated, as if I was about to muntah at any moment, which in Indonesian means you know what. Wobbled about the room for a bit, gave my nose a couple of mighty shots of Afrin, swallowed down a pseudoephedrine tablet and a small handful of Advil and by noon or so I was feeling vaguely human again. Just sat around the house for the rest of the day watching old Ozzie and Harriett shows. My exciting like in paradise. 

Naturally, under the circumstances, I have nothing else to write about other than being ill. In fact, I think I'll change the name of this blog. Everyone Here is Sick as a Dog? Hmm. Or  how about Tedium: A Chronical of Illness? 

So anyway, I've given up on doctors for the time being. I've had three weeks of miconazole, one week of itraconazole, various antibiotics, steroid nose spray and non-steroid nose spray, allergy meds and antihistamines. What else is there? One may as well run his own experiments. It's cheaper and just as effective, or ineffective. So I have decided that the nose/sinus congestion problem is not a fungal infection (as with the throat) but a bacterial one and have therefore begun treatment with a course of Augmentin, the antibiotic most often used against sinus infections. I believe that the fungal infection is actually gone now, and that the sore throat is a result of irritation from the Afrin spray.

Snore. 

Truly, I hope to do something more interesting tomorrow. Ozzie and Harriett are certainly entertaining, but one hopes for a bit more out of the day nonetheless.  

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Chat

I've had the opportunity over the past week to have a couple of extended chats with my second wife, kicking around old times--those times that we so casually threw away and which seem now to have been worth infinitely more effort than we invested. I doubt whether either of us could say now just exactly what happened, how it had happened, why we let it happen. Maybe it's because we were both just strong and proud in the full vigor of our years, and we look back now with the brittle conscience of old age. We were raising our children at that time, with the usual lavishing of love and carefulness, and we forgot to raise ourselves with the same sobriety. We forgot to protect ourselves. 

I'm so happy, in any case, to see that she has landed in the care of her daughter and her husband and is able to every day enjoy her two grandchildren in the same house. It is a large, spacious house, as I was able to see on video call, resting on an extensive plot of wooded land--a little paradise, really. As with all who have grown old, she has a number of health problems, and so I am thankful for the fact that she is with a loving family, people who will watch over her, just as we did, once upon a time, for my mother, and for her mother as well. What goes around comes around. Sometimes.