I like routine. I like things to be well-ordered. I like things to be repetitive. I want to use my mind-space for the big questions, for pondering the meta-truths, not for rewriting the script on a daily basis. Farm animals and a husband are good for keeping my feet on the well-worn path.
Despite the seller’s evidence, it looks as if Vanilla is not in kid. She hasn’t grown any wider in the belly, and her udder is still empty. She is filling out through the upper ribs, though, probably from good pasture and a daily grain ration after a winter of hay. I’d say her condition is improving, as is Tara’s, which foretells a good mating and maybe twins when they are bred in the fall. I’m not terribly disappointed, as I need to get a milking stand ready, and buy good milking pails. Getting to know the does before they are bred means they will be easier to handle when they have kids.
I had a slight surge of confidence that our financial picture would gain some rosy hues, but so far that isn’t happening. While I have a number of queries out about articles and books, I haven’t heard anything yet. My experience is that editors may take a month or more to address freelance ideas. My four small freelance online articles are now just three; I am withdrawing the fourth because the editor keeps asking for technical changes. After I have patiently explained there is a basic incompatibility between their proprietary word-processing programme and those extraordinary programmes that run on my laptop, Windows 7 and Google Chrome, she still thinks that somehow I can shoehorn links and jumps into the document. For the $15 fee plus the possibility of revenue sharing (which so far has amounted to a penny), spending three or more hours manhandling software isn’t my idea of time well-spent. I have an editing test to submit for the possibility of free-lance work, but the company is expecting a near-perfect recall of an edition of The Chicago Manual of Style I have never seen. I have to code-switch, too, now that I have been in Canada using British conventions for ten years. I have a couple of small changes to make and another read-through, and then I will zip it off to the home office and await their refusal. I am, in fact, a very good editor, but the universality of publishing marks has evaporated with my youth. Now editing mark-up depends on the meta-programme.
Nicholas likes and needs a regular routine. Any disruption, no matter how much he enjoys it, exhausts him for a couple of days. His schedule revolves around making sure that nothing unexpected is going to happen. He asks me the same questions at the same time every day; he says the same things in the same circumstances. He tells the same jokes at the same trigger words. I’m used to it, but it must be perplexing for people who don’t know him well. The stroke two years ago blunted his keen wit as well as his appetite for adventure and novelty. I keep the routine pretty much in the same groove. He loses track of anything complicated and new. He has no more interest in film or travel. In a group of people, he will speak to just those he knows well, perhaps afraid that he will lose the thread of the conversation. This does happen a lot. One old friend said to me after trying to carry on a conversational theme with him, “I miss the old Nicholas.” I hadn’t really worried about it until then; I was occupied with trying to cope with the changes in circumstances. All I had to say, to avoid bursting into tears, was: “I try not to think about it.” Of course, I had been with him at the onset of the stroke, when he was falling and unable to talk. I was with him in the hospital when he would not know where he was or what was going on. I saw him through the aftermath of the bad fall and injury that put him in ICU for weeks. I have seen him advance from being unable to bathe or dress or tie his shoes, to being able to do all this for himself.
He hasn’t lost his intellect even though he has lost his ability to engage in dialogue about intellectual subjects. He still follows astrophysics and theology. He can explain things just fine, but he has a difficult time articulating an answer in a creative way. With the loss of more than half his vision he has also lost the ability to track well, and he has lost a lot of depth perception. He uses a cane for guidance and balance, and he will stop and ask for direction or assistance if he needs it.
This is not going to get better. If anything, I can see that he has regressed a bit in the last few weeks. We did expect this. There was some pre-existing damage before the stroke, probably from sports injuries.
Does this limit me? Yes, it does. But he is not just my responsibility. It is my joy to care for him. This is the task God handed me. I know it could be much worse. Someday he may get to a stage where I won’t be able to care for him at home, and I am prepared to do what I must when that day comes, and find him a sheltered environment. I will not make the vain promise that he won’t go to a nursing home. I have done a lot of home and institutional pastoral care, and keeping an incapacitated person at home when they would be safer and healthier in a managed environment is short-sighted and often selfish.
I sometimes wish I had the luxury to be sentimental and a bit selfish.