Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seizing moments within disappointment

Disappoint v.
early 15c., "dispossess of appointed office," from Middle French desappointer (14c.) "undo the appointment, remove from office," from des- (see dis-) + appointer"appoint" (see appoint). 

Modern sense of "to frustrate expectations" (late 15c.) is from secondary meaning of "fail to keep an appointment." Related: 
Disappointed; disappointing.

The thing is, I hate to disappoint people. That word comes from the 15th century and it meant “removing someone from office” as in “dis appointing them.” Later it came to mean frustration with people who didn’t keep an appointment. I don’t have an office to be removed from…but I am frustrated to not be keeping appointments I’ve made.

In the past couple of years I’ve had to disappoint people…by not keeping an appointment. I’ve had good reason: Jerry’s health issues that surprise us every step of the way. A couple of years ago I failed to make events in Scott’s Valley, CA and Medford, OR because Jerry broke a vertebrae by sneezing. And then another. And then another. And then he had surgeries and then his systems began to shut down and gastro-urinary didn’t work!  It kept getting worse and then he broke four ribs. “Cascading breaks” is what the osteoporosis doctor called it as she aggressively treated it. Jerry is a trooper but he doesn’t do anything typically. When his urinary tract began working on its own his urologist was in tears just as we were. “I didn’t think we’d get here again,” he said. But Jerry kept working and his body responded and he’s done well.

Then two weeks ago he fell while fishing. He said he’d broken a rib and there wasn’t much to be done for that so he didn’t want to go to the doctor. But by Sunday evening, two days later, his breathing was compromised and probably he wasn’t getting a lot of oxygen to his brain because I persuaded him to let me take him to the ER where they found that yes, indeed, he had two broken ribs. However, one had severed an artery and had been bleeding for two days into the lining behind his lungs and placing pressure on the lungs. Off to surgery he went. All went well. But then his system began to shut down again and so his stomach had to be pumped and once again aggressive action had to take place. “Years ago people just died of what you had,” his thoracic surgeon mused.

He’s home now. But it will be a bit of time before he’s back to where he was. At 84, healing takes longer and he already lives with 13 crushed vertebrae, residue of a broken hip, bladder cancer, colon resection…the list goes on. Seeing him at home is heartening. But it also means I can see how frail he is and that leaving him in the care of someone else in the next month or so isn’t something I want to do.

So I will disappoint people. I’ve made the calls. We’ve managed one rescheduling. Friends are covering an event in Pendleton where many of Letitia Carson’s descendants live (from my latest novel A Light in the Wilderness). I so hate missing all of these events. We’ll look at next year for new dates. Please check the events on my website for updates. But I will not be disappointing another appointment made 38 years ago, for better for worse, in sickness and in health. And really, I will enjoy the extra time with Jerry…and the dogs… hoping you’ll forgive me for disappointing you.  Warmly,
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