Oct. 9, 2012

Dad, A Fall And, Fear

by Allan Lummus



FROM: 23038076
TO: Lummus,
SUBJECT: Dad, a fall, and fear
DATE: 09/07/2012 07:10:51 PM

MD.44 Dad, a Fall, and Fear 8.17.12

This past month has been a whirlwind. My Dad had a fall coming down the stairs at his home. It is very good that my sister was there, because mom did not respond appropriately. She was immobilized and my sister had to yell at her to call 911 while she stayed with Dad. It is so frustrating. Being in prison means I cannot be there for my family. I live only 90 minutes away, so I could come anytime to help out. I worked at a job that would allow me the flexibility for me to take care of things on a short notice, unlike my sisters who live 3 hours drive or half a day's flight.

My father fractured his skull behind his right ear and caused a concussion and bleeding from his ear. The head trauma has caused a decline in cognitive abilities and hearing in his right ear. He has regained most of his ambulatory ability, but he is still unstable. He should still be using a walker, but refuses to use it. He spent the first couple of weeks in the hospital and then moved into the assisted living facility we had chosen. Mom and Dad are not happy living in the apartment, but it is really where they need to be.

The fall scare activated death fear in me. The lack of contact and my feeling of impotence only exasperated the fear. All I could do was weakly phone in my disembodied voice like some ghost from the past. My sisters had to take the brunt of the traumatic events. My Mom at first did not function well, but seems to be coming around. An estate sale is coming in a month and Mom and Dad still have lots of material to go through. I doubt there is much that they need to keep, but Mom and my sisters feel pressure to go through everything. I guess I would be that way too. The process of throwing away first most, then almost everything that I own in preparing to come to prison was tough. All my possessions are a few family pictures. Nothing else remains. I want a picture of my great grandparents (Dad's side), a book of Lummus genealogy and shaving mug of my granddad's. The last was not my suggestion, but my mom's. It was on my desk from childhood, so I think it is a good idea.

Death focuses attention. Me going to prison is a death. Death to my life before. I am my cocoon and will be reincarnated. I don't have much use for metaphysics of religion (Buddhist or Christian), but a metaphorical reinterpretation of reincarnation works for me. Each moment is a death and rebirth. So the transition into assisted living helps to process the cycle of life. The closing of the door and the appreciation of the life that is my dad's. The lives that went before (father, grandparents) and the lives that will come after (mine, Max's, Max's kids?).

My fear had already been recently reactivated with my former Cellie's vulnerability (the one with psychological and heart issues). So fear was close to the surface. My normal pattern is to distract myself/disassociate. This used to happen even before I was fully conscious of the emotions. My meditative practices keep your internal consciousness focused on changing emotional states. I still have the desire to escape and still do. But more and more I am staying feelings that used to send me into an autopilot mode.

The other emotion is grief. Grief at not being there. Grief at losing my Dad little by little. Grief at not being able to connect in his last years of declining sentience. Dementia is a form of slow motion death. The consciousness dies little by little while the body remains. I need to do more with this emotion. More sitting with my grief is called for.

allan lummus mindful prisoner betweenthebars.org


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