the cruise, the circus and the clowns

 yesterday b and n took a tour on a duck ~ an amphibious car full of dozens of tourists, driving through ketchikan and then into the water.  b said the jokes were endless from the tour guide: dumbest questions ever asked…..”what is the elevation of the cruise ships in ketchikan?” “how long does it take a deer to grow into a moose?”  the guide said he answered, “seven years.” because a really dumb question deserves a really dumb answer.
i walked with mom. she was insistent, has been insistent, is fixated on wearing her hiking boots and that she can walk anywhere she wants. “she has hiked all over the world. she has been to machu pichu. she can do anything she wants.”
she just can’t remember.
and she can’t explain herself unless she has a lot of time.
and she is never, ever wrong.
walking through ketchikan felt good, with fresh clear air and the freedom of open streets, once we got away from the hundreds of tourists, the three other cruise ships and the endless shops, full of 50% off everything you will never need.
i learned again, that she defaults to shopping. i have shopped more int he last 9 months with her than i have in the last 9 years, maybe in my entire life.  but i wondered yesterday if it is more than just the shopping; maybe it is a piece of her life that she has control over, that is familiar in some way. when we walked into a store i watched her eyes widen with the unfamiliar. uncertain where to go. i told her to turn right and go up the stairs. she snapped that someone told her where to go and she could get there by herself and that i didn’t need to boss her around.
but she couldn’t.
and she wouldn’t take a suggestion from me. once we got to the stairs, she stood there, overwhelmed in a new environment, but intent on getting a new waterproof jacket.
and she just stood there. she told the sales person she wanted “base clothes”, tugging at her t-shirt, trying to tell the associate that only thin wool is the best. we were taken to a row of long underwear. mom got frustrated and tried to explain to the disinterested, irritated 17 year old what she wanted. i slipped the word “waterproof” into the conversation and we were able to get to the jacket department. the girl could really have care less , showed us one jacket and left mom confused about what she was looking for.
she is easily distracted. it is difficult for her to stay on a single task. it is difficult to specifically communicate what she wants. it is difficult to plan ahead, to multi-task, to think in a bigger picture.
H is their concierge. he is from germany and is at least six and 1/2 feet tall with a kind, soft manner and always dressed in a mourning suit with jacket, tie and striped slacks.
yesterday i spoke with h alone; i told him about moms stroke, that i was here as her care giver and i could help make things go smoothly if we gave her two options and i had time to help her understand prior to his meeting with them.
h has spent hours with my parents, listening and helping plan their itineraries, make dinner reservations and help keep mom out of the busy places on the ship.
yes, that is what he is paid for, but working with mom is beyond a normal cruise director/concierge responsibility.
except, poor h.
he was called to their stateroom at 830pm and to come as soon as possible. when he arrived he apologized for being a bit late, but he’d had an emergency dental appointment and was a bit groggy. my guess is he had been sleeping when he was beckoned. after we muddled through planning for the next days, mom asked about his appointment. he had a wisdom tooth extracted. and he was at work. attempting to smooth things out for my mother.
mom sat there knitting.
n started to tell h about his 12 day tour of germany, france and england to view private care museums. once he was on a roll, he didn’t breathe. or pause. for a long time. he told h, in detail, what cars are like in germany. how they all work. oh, and by the way, he drives a porsche cheyenne and mom chirps in that it is her car and no one will let her drive and h attempted to say something and n over-talked and talked and talked.
i don’t know why i was and continue to be stunned at his inability to recognize anyone else’s pain or discomfort or the lateness of the night ~ by then we were at 10pm ~ or the fact that no one in the room was listening to him pontificate, listening only to himself with little regard for anyone else.
h sat there with his swollen cheek in his palm.
it is tuesday, i think.
we are waiting to float into mendenhal glacier.
i woke in tears this morning.
send in the clowns.

2 thoughts on “the cruise, the circus and the clowns

  1. Anne, thank you so much for sharing this. Wild, free story telling, of the reality of your world. I felt I was ther with you and feeling your tears at the end. Life after a stroke is unbelievably life altering for everyone. There are still many joys, but also much pain. Your mother is sooooo blessed to have you by her

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