Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Picture of Exhaustion

Dad resting in his easy chair, exhausted after his day's work. Posted by Picasa
"The work of many of the greatest men, inspired by duty, has been done amidst suffering and trial and difficulty. They have struggled against the tide, and reached the shore exhausted." ~ Samuel Smiles (Scottish author, 1812-1904)
Dad turned 76 this year. He grew up on an Illinois farm, son of a hard working farmer. As a child he had some type of septicemia and without antibiotics, almost died; and while his friends noted his lips turning blue after a game of tag, he never seemed to lack for energy. Dad is a retired minister and in that capacity has built two churches and a parsonage; he was involved in the actual plans and construction as the churches didn't have the finances to hire all the work done. He is an excellent carpenter, mason and roofer. He has enclosed breezeways, built covered patios, enclosed a patio to make a library and built sunrooms. When he visited in Mississippi he built shelves in the garage, attic, around the top of a room and a built in shelf unit for CD's. He has also designed and constructed three dog houses; all R11 insulated with dog flap inserts, linoleum floors, covered porches, shingled roofs, insert windows/louvered vents, light fixtures for heat and fans for air circulation. The first one he built had two separate rooms with off-setting doors so the harsh northern Indiana wind wouldn't whip inside. It also had a hinged roof to lift for easy cleaning of the rooms. Our little dog Pepper loved it, especially the roof with it's treated canvas covering the hinge. She learned to jump up on to that roof and slept there during the day looking ever so much like Snoopy but for the fact that she was a dachshund and had no white on her.

In 2001 he began to feel weak and tired and his pulse raced. Lab tests, X-rays and EKGs showed atrial fibrillation. Medication and attempts at electrocardioversion were unsuccessful so now his heart rate is slowed by digoxin and his blood is thinned by coumadin to prevent the dangerous clots that often form in the fibrillating right atrium. His heart rate is still a little high and he will always have an irregularly irregular rhythm but it is within acceptable limits. He has never regained his stamina. Maybe this is partly due to his heart and I'm sure some of it is the natural slowing down of age. He rises later than he used to and works around the house or trims bushes and plants collard greens in the yard. Several years ago I gave him a year of yard service for Father's Day so he wouldn't be out in the heat mowing the grass. He poo-poo'd it at first but still has the man come each week to mow and edge.

He can work like he wants to for a few hours, but by two or three in the afternoon, he is exhausted. He'll sit in his chair, get the paper and say "I'm going to rest here a while and read the paper and then get back to work" but within five minutes looks like this; eyes shut, paper still in his hands but resting on his lap and his mouth open, just snoring away. As Nyssa would say "You can hear him sleep in the back bedroom".

I worry that his reaction times are so slow and that it seems more difficult for him to find the right word when he teaches his Sunday School class. Thank goodness his class members are all older, some older than he; so that perhaps they need the slower pace themselves. Of course he always has my mom there to give him the word he's looking for even when he doesn't ask. He may take four days to prepare his lesson, two hours to go to the neighborhood grocery for four items and thirty minutes to find directions and streets on a map that I could get in ten seconds on Mapquest; but at least he is never bored. And I do so love him.

Submission for Photo Tuesday topic "exhausted".

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