Of Then, Now, and the Future

In the community library on Thursday afternoon. With my computer on my lap, I have just finished an edit of the post that I will publish Saturday morning.  My neighbor, a senior citizen of my vintage, sitting to my left is doing some kind of low tech work using an actual pen hovering above a piece of paper while he studies the page of a magazine.

A nostalgic and refreshing sight. 

This morning for the first time in months, Carol said my name.  She might have been a little stressed as I got her ready for the day.  For whatever reason, she looked in my direction and clearly articulated “Steve.”  Later in the day, but much less clearly, she seemed to say my name again.

A short, but meaningful messenger from the past, announcing that it is not quite dead.  Some form of me still resides in her brain, available to her under certain conditions, whatever they might be.

And to whomever, specifically, that form is directed, the me sitting next to her, or the remembered me.

I don’t, at this point, try to pin that distinction down, nor do I really care.

What I do care about, as I have written about before, is that there is some form of we still alive and, if not well, at least hanging on.

Rather than ponder the imponderable, there are practical matters to deal with. In that regard, the first thing I did when I arrived at the library today was to draft a letter to the insurance company that holds a life policy on Carol.  We took it out years ago, calling it her funeral money  And I suppose that is what it still is.

We thought then that my retirement funds would certainly cover putting me in the ground, or in the cremation furnace, but there was no similar pot of money for Carol.  Of course, the money that would take care of me, could just as well serve for her.  But, if my memory is right, Carol in her usual way wanted this matter to be taken care of in her own way.  In her own name.

Thus, the policy.

My task today was to make sure that the money would be available to whoever would be responsible for Carol’s end of life arrangements, should I predecease her.  I am now the beneficiary of that policy, and so it seems a good idea to put a next beneficiary in the event of my already being gone.

The letter I drafted to the insurance company asked that our daughter be added as the next beneficiary.  No doubt, there will be more paperwork, but this is a start. When I get home, I’ll print up the letter and an envelope in which to mail it.

One more thing about to be taken care of.

This chore leads into the thoughts I have been having about the possibility that the predeceasing might go the other way, for in spite of Carol’s being ten years younger than I, her disease might eliminate that advantage.

She might die before me.

That is a really unpleasant thought.

Sunday night.  Woke up to more snow, wet and heavy.  Driveway not cleared, road not plowed.  I decided discretion was the better part of valor, fought off the tug of entrenched habit and routine, and chose not to drive down to the store for Carol’s muffin and the possibility of picking up the Times.  The road just looked dangerous with several inches of wet, heavy snow.  Although there were tire tracks, so some vehicle had come by at some point, there was no sign of any traffic now as I waited for ten or fifteen minutes before making up my mind to stay home.  This winter does not seem to understand that we are a week away from St. Patrick’s day, followed by the first day of spring.

Had to set the clocks ahead last night, and because I got up at the usual time I lost an hour’s sleep.  That, plus  the snow, started the day off on the wrong foot.  But Carol had a good breakfast, I did the Sunday Times puzzle on line and read a bit of the paper, watched a little baseball, served Carol pork chops with applesauce for dinner, which she enjoyed, and finished the day viewing a very nice fund raiser special on PBS showing an ancient but very well preserved Tony Bennett working with the much younger and vibrant Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall in the process of making an album.  Their music was wonderful, but even better was seeing how they worked out their back and forth handling of the lyrics, and how the piano player leading a trio including bass and drums added his view of how the song should be presented in terms of the intro and pacing.

After the show ended and it was time for Carol to head toward sleep, as has become a habit, I lay spoonwise in the bed with her with my around her until her eyes closed and breathing became regular. She is sleeping now but restlessly for some reason.  I can only guess her mind is active, exploring, or remembering, or inventing.  For example, I’ve noticed a new indicator of some kind of cognitive activity. When she was listening to a piece of music, her left hand seemed to be mimicking the movements of playing the piano.  It did not look spasmodic; rather the movement was more controlled, going from left to right and her fingers, so it appeared, doing a little up and down action.  I can’t be sure, but that’s how it looked.

I do guard against reading innocent signs into something more significant, so I offer these observations to myself while admonishing myself not to take them too seriously.

And yet, the impression came to mind with an immediacy that argues for my having seen something of note.  I’ll keep an eye out for a repetition.

All of this, the going to sleep routine, the meals, the close observation tell me, as if I needed to be reminded, how much a part of my life Carol remains.  It’s the reason that after more than a year, approaching two years now, I think, at the expense of my back I still sleep on the couch so that I can hear her breathe.  There is really no practical reason for me to do that.  She is perfectly safe in the hospital bed.

But  the thought of being on a different floor overnight just does not work for me.

I am sneaking up on the topic I thought I would be working on tonight, namely, my thoughts concerning the possibility that Carol might predecease me.

I’ll try to attack it next time.

Out of time for now.  My neighbor still hard at work.  I’ll leave him to it and head home.

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