I have been trying to write this post off and on all day. That shouldn't surprise me; I've been trying to write it off and on for months. If there’s a good way to write about my father's stroke, I haven’t found it. So I’ve given up on doing it “well;” I’ll just do it.
It's ten o'clock in the evening, and four hours of resetting the paved path next door have pretty much done me in. The students who rent the house let me traipse in and out of their yard, for the sake of an occasional strawberry or bunch of lettuce or potatoes. I'm putting weed-cloth under the paving stones because getting control of the weeds (especially the bindweed) running rampant under that path is essential to getting control of the weeds in the garden. This was a rare, sunny day–the first in weeks, so naturally I spent hours gardening errands that could have been done in the rain, but by late afternoon I was digging in the dirt.
Every day it rains, and every day I try to write this post. Then it rains again, and again I don't find a way to talk about this. It's been raining for three weeks or so, ever since I got back from Toronto, from my first visit to my Dad since the stroke. We usually get an hour or two of sunlight, sometimes more, but I can hardly imagine a day without rain, and I’ve given up waiting for the soil to dry out enough for me to work it.
In one tomato bed I’d planned to dig in compost, fertilizer, coconut coir, sulfur and pine needles, but two days ago I gave up on all projects dependent on deep digging. Instead, I put my faith in the abundant earthworms and just spread compost over the top. Fertilizer will have to be added later (never as satisfactory a system) and the soil structure will have to fend for itself. I am praying that the abundance of earthworms isn't a trick played by the rain, which has forced them all to the surface.
So I dug into the compost pile in the ex-greenhouse next door, and trundled a wheel-barrow full of the stuff to the tomato bed, tossed it on, raked it out, and added a layer of "professional" compost as well, before digging the holes, planting my biggest tomatoes, and setting large terra-cotta cubes around a few, in hopes they'll ward off the cold of our nights, which are still in the forties.
All this took hours, and when I finally got inside, I sat down once more at the computer. But as the words spun themselves out, I realized that it is too long a story for a single post; if I edit it down to post-size it means nothing at all: "My father had a stroke last November now he's in long-term care and I just saw him and he's okay except he can't talk."
Well, that's true as far as it goes. But if the devil is in the details, so is any insight or redemption we might hope to gain by telling the story at all. The shock and turmoil when I first got the news, the intense weeks of assessment, and hours, probably hundreds of hours, on the telephone, the frustration of not being able to be there–how do I begin to describe these? I don't know. But I intend to spend the next month or so finding out.