Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Two Old Fogeys

Demetrios says he feels “normal” today, but I still don’t.

Yesterday we were pretty pathetic. We went to the central bus terminal to catch an inter-city bus to Katerini, where Christos lives, and we were so tired and so dull-witted we sat right there and watched while our bus pulled away without us. That’s the sort of thing that makes me want to crawl back into bed and just stay there, more or less permanently.

We caught the next bus, which I am grateful to say left within the next half-hour, so no harm done.

Christos mortgaged his condo (across the hall from ours, occupying the other half of this floor) and used the money to build himself a home in the seaside resort of Katerini, meanwhile renting his condo to pay the mortgage. The house is unfinished, but looks very nice so far. It has a sunken living room with black marble flooring, a corner fireplace, 3 bedrooms, an unfinished upstairs.

The first thing we did upon arriving was lie down and fall asleep! At least I did; they stayed up and drank coffee and talked.

Christos was full of stories of his latest visit to Venice. His daughter lives and works there and he himself also studied architecture there. He says he visited the palace of the Doge, and saw rooms full of glorious paintings. “There was one scene of the Nativity, another of the Resurrection – and on the opposite wall, a huge portrait of Venus! With assorted other uncovered bottoms. And the pope had commissioned all of these.” He shook his head. “I just don’t understand. How does one mix these things?”

But the fresco that impressed him the most, a picture, he said, “As big as from here to Stelios’ house,” was of the Last Judgment. It showed all of humanity coming before God one by one, and right there, at Christ’s side, was the pope, pointing out to Him which people were to be saved, and which condemned. We howled at that! I asked, “Which pope, of the many there have been, gets the honor of helping God judge us all?” Christos shrugged and said he supposed each pope got to do it for the people who had died during his pontificate. “But do they really think God needs help in choosing? I mean, you hear these things, but that doesn’t make such a big impression as when you see all laid out graphically.”

In the late afternoon, we drove 4 miles (or was it 4 kilometers?) to Paraleia, the neighboring town that really is, literally, seaside. We went to our favorite sitting place, the Hotel Panorama, where we took a table overlooking the water, and we sat there nibbling treats and drinking coffee (or water, in my case) and just watching the gentle waves, and a flock of small gulls bobbing in the water. The waves are not big here, as they are on the Atlantic Coast. They’re just little ups and downs, as if the sea were breathing.

I had brought my swimsuit and towel, but nobody else was in the water, and I decided not to go in, either. The water would certainly have been warm enough, but there was a distinct chill in the air. Anyway, it was peaceful, soul-soothing, just to sit there while the sky turned pink and then dark blue.

We caught the 8:30 bus back to Thessaloniki and got home by 9:45 or so, stopping on our way at our favorite fruit and vegetable stand to greet Thanasis and his wife, Vasiliki, who greeted us warmly.

A CAT-scan has revealed “cracks” in Dad’s pelvis from his fall the other day. Last update I got, he was in the emergency room at the hospital, waiting for a room assignment. A broken hip is usually the beginning of the end, for the elderly.

It upsets me so much to think of him lying there in his bathroom for heaven only knows how long, hours perhaps, with nobody coming to rescue him – despite the fact that an alarm would have been sounding the whole time. It sounds whenever he gets out of bed, but nobody ever comes in response. How many times have I emphasized to the staff that the MAIN reason Dad was there was to prevent a fall. And this facility has such a wonderful reputation, is supposed to be so elite! If I had known the truth, I wouldn’t have entrusted my cat to them! It’s called Renaissance Gardens, and it’s a part of a larger complex known as Greenspring. Greenspring is great, but R. Gardens is a snake pit. So if any of you readers live in Northern Virginia, do NOT let your parent(s) go there!

The good thing is, I’m in Greece. Otherwise I’d have been there with him – not that he knows who I am anymore or would know the difference – and that’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been doing for a year and a half now, and desperately need a break from for a while.

Not that being far away really helps; the resting is only physical. My heart is still there and still breaking.


Emily H. said...

I'd have gone swimming with you! :)

I hope your father recovers well. Are you going to move him to a new place?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thank you, Emily.

You'd have been a welcome companion in the sea, too! We would have had great fun. The water is shallow out to about 60 yards.

As for my father, we have a choice of preserving his physical safety or his happiness. His happiness consists of being near Mom, the only person he still knows.

Or we can hire, at prohibitive expense, round-the-clock private duty caregivers. My own opinion is that if R. Gardens is not going to do what they are being very well paid to do, we should insist THEY bear the cost of the private duty people. But that's a whole other set of problems...

Everybody in my age bracket goes through this, if they are lucky enough to have their parents still. I keep reminding myself of that. It's a "normal" stage of life. My mother says growing old is not for sissies. Well, the children of those growing old can't be sissies, either!


DebD said...

Anastasia - I am so sorry about your father.

I had to laugh at your tiredness. It is so hard acclimating to a new time zone. I fear its worse coming home.