Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Phone calls and tornadoes and power outages


My friend, Eileen, came for a visit from Ottawa weekend. It was her birthday this week and she had combined a visit to Peterborough with a bit of a side trip to see me. I missed my dear friend very much. Brian was in Ottawa and Eileen and I were merrily preparing to have our second day of our girl’s visit. We were down at the water, swimming, when we saw the clouds rapidly approaching. I know we were in for a storm – but what a storm. We casually cleaned up our swim accoutrement and headed up to the house. We opened a bottle of wine and sat on the sofa visiting, watching the winds pick up. I had planned on barbecuing steak later, a fine end to a fine day. The winds picked up and then slowly changed from wind to gusts to a torrent of water and wind. The leaves on the tress were blowing in directions that do not make sense. There were down thrusts of wind, common in the area I found out later. They snapped off branches and surprised both of us with its ferocity.

The phone rang and it was my father. He was very upset. He had his good days and bad days. Today he was most upset, as the TV isn’t working. He had been such a go-to-it kind of man. If anything broke he would be able to fix it and make it right. With the advent of technology some things begin to be beyond his ken and this made life more difficult. At the time I really did not understand how severe this storm would be and I tried to calm Dad down. Our power had gone out and he really could not empathize, TV and his sports shows being much of his life nowadays. I tried to calm him. He was quite upset that I could not help him fix his TV.

I felt as if I had let him down in some way – but could not see myself driving the 30 km in to see him, even if I could do something about this situation. We finished our conversation, I said goodbye to him feeling a huge cloud of guilt settle over me. The winds had abated somewhat, and I began to get the barbecue going. I had never barbecued in the dark, the deck lights being quite efficient. I did my best, without power, and we had a salad with our meal. The candlelight was quite gorgeous. Eileen and I had shared many meals as we had gone out every couple of months on a regular basis to the theatre when we lived in Ottawa. I missed my old life. I made the mistake, in my depressive state, of not reaching out to someone, friends all left behind in Ottawa. I had no support system other than my children and husband. It was not enough.
We took a trip into town the next day. I had to see Dad, and Eileen and I wanted to get some groceries. Many stores were out of power and did not get it back for days.

After visiting with Dad in the hall, I thought it time to go. He hadn’t been all that clear with me. Complaining about one thing and another. I went out to the car and asked Eileen, who was waiting with groceries, if she wanted to see Dad. He was quite happy to see her, although they’d never met. She is quite attractive and my Dad was quite perky seeing my beautiful friend after being morose with me. This is something I had found with many seniors. They were angry with close family, but remember their manners when interacting with outsiders. I was angry at this. He had been begging me to stay longer a few minutes before, but after talking to Eileen, in an apparently normal fashion, he told us to go off and enjoy ourselves. He was a different man. I just could not understand it!

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