Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John's Visit

Brother John made his annual mid-January trek up from Silver Spring this past weekend. He looked great--about 25 pounds lighter than the last time I saw him. He arrived on Saturday, and after his Grammy visit and a nap, drove up to Beverly to see the house and sample some North Shore seafood.

We took him to The Village Restaurant in Essex. I'd given Mark Ricci, the owner, a heads-up that we'd be bringing in a true clam aficionado, and Mark was ready.

We started with the chowder, which really is startlingly flavorful. John pronounced it "spectacular" before moving on to the fried clam appetizer. The clams at The Village, like the nearby Clam Box and Woodman's, are lightly breaded and cooked in lard--hard on the arteries but wonderful on the taste buds. Another slam dunk.

John had liked the chowder so much that he returned to it for his main dish, a huge crockful this time. I had haddock, and Kathy had a dinner salad. For dessert, we had the white chocolate bread pudding. I had to nix following that with chocolate lava cake. Enough is enough.

On Sunday, despite considerable snow, the non-Florida members of the family gathered at Belmont Street. Erin hosted John, Marc, Paula, Matt, Christine, Kathy, me, and the three great-grandchildren. Evan got to hang out with his second cousins, Megan and Joseph. Cuisine was provided by Great Chow, with crab rangoon a particularly hot item.

On Monday, John and I went to Queen Anne together. John made his expectations abundantly clear to the staff. The Grammy wasn't very responsive during the visit, very much like I'd seen her during her November hospitalization.

We went back to John's hotel and worked out in the exercise club, then headed for the Alumni, where we each downed a bar pizza and a few beers. Cousin Jack (aka "Whitey" at the Alumni) was uncharacteristically not in attendance.

1 comment:

jkmcshane said...

Thanks for the compliment and thanks to all for a fun weekend. The dinner out with you and FS Kathy was primo; I particularly enjoyed conspiring with her on a second dessert, forcing you into an obviously familiar curmudgeon role. Thanks to Erin for hosting a Sunday night get-together that was a real blast. Meeting Evan for the first time was a special treat--a handsome guy with a great personality. I was stunned at how well he endured being passed from person to person, including some brand new, sketchy faces. He liked it! And great chow was great--can't believe there were leftovers with that crowd. I think Marc was off his usual feed:) An as usual I was right at home sucking my greasy fingers with every bite of Alumni's best. Thanks for treating.

The only downer, of course, was Mom's condition and her medical "caretakers" deciding that they could help her by taking her off all medications. I still am missing the logic of responding to her refusals to take her medicine with a policy decision to refuse to give her medicine. I can only hope that they are not following the same logic with regard to her eating; given her weakened condition, I believe in fact that they are doing just that.

As you know, I saw her the very day she had returned to the nursing home after her hospitalization with a serious bout of bronchitis. Though still seriously congested, she was much more robust then than I found her this weekend. I had every confidence back then that she would recover just fine. Little did we know that a decision would be made that would strip her of every once of energy (even a 20 year old could not cope physically with a sudden and total withdrawal of thyroid, depression, and diabetes medicine). I always ask who benefits?

They have taken away the ability to fight from a fighter and yes, have left her far less able to defend against another illness which most assuredly will come in such a facility. A self-fulfilling prophecy--she is indeed now failing to thrive after the removal of any "care" that would help her thrive.

I will have much more to say to them soon about my expectations. Of course it is incredibly frustrating to not be able to help her or you. We are at the mercy of her "caretakers," who we found are quite defensive about their decisions when confronted with them. No wonder.

I have often puzzled about how much money I will need in retirement--to be able to travel, keep up a couple of houses, have a boat, etc. Now my calculations will first and foremost be how much I will need to ensure that neither Kathy nor I are ever put into this situation at the end of our lives. I fear that it may keeping me working well beyond my retirement age.

Great to see you all. Sorry if the last part of this note is a downer, but as they say, there is no putting lipstick on this pig. Bother John