March 21, 2000

Day 20

[For background please see the previous few entries.]

I'm still spending six or seven hours a day at the hospital.

The recovery is slow.. Dad is still unable to keep even water down. He's very weak, too, and uncomfortable of course.

The doctors aren't too concerned about the pace of recovery. I just want this whole thing to be over. Patience is one of the most difficult qualities to have after weeks of waiting for a diagnosis, more weeks of waiting to see if it goes away by itself, and yet more weeks waiting for available time in the operating room.

Hubby and kids are being wonderful about the amount of time I'm not at home and the things I'm not doing for them. I wonder when they'll begin to lose patience. I remember my mother when her father was ill. The big difference was, my grandfather's illness was chronic, probably Alzheimer's Disease or something similar, and went on for years and years. He was in a nursing home not far from our house, and my mother spent a good part of every day there. She was so burned out that she only outlived him by two years. I don't think I'm really sacrificing the rest of my life and family the way she did, though. This is an acute situation, one that is supposed to be resolved within weeks, not years.

And speaking of sacrifice.. a piece of this entry of Catherine's has been festering in my brain. (Catherine in turn was inspired by this entry of Carol's.. I don't know where Carol got it from.)
Carol had a 20-questions entry but the question that stuck was this one, with Catherine's reply:

3. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERVICE AND SACRIFICE?:

Service is love in action; sacrifice is guilt in action. Those things that I do from a full heart, out of love, are not sacrifices, they are privileges.

I don't know if "service" is the word I'd have chosen for what I'm doing. I do know that I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything on my own behalf. This surprises me, since usually anything that impinges on my personal time and space (and I need lots of personal time and space) is greatly resented. I'm grateful that I'm in a position to devote this much time and energy helping my father and stepmother. It's not motivated by guilt, either. Guilt usually doesn't motivate me to do things I really don't want to do. Besides, I have nothing to feel guilty about here.
The word "service" conjures up an image of a portly woman in a Salvation Army uniform, hair rolled up in a bun, doing good works in the community. It has a cold, efficient connotation to me. I'd prefer something like "caring" or "helping".

I think it's also possible to be motivated by a combination of love and guilt. Many parents I know seem to operate on that level.

Linque Du Jour: The Curmudgeon's Stylebook

Good advice, curmudgeonly writing. What more do you need?

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