Dreaming with my father.

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Dad looked like this in my dream!

I have always been the type to remember dreams, but I’ve never dreamt with a dead person before. I dreamt of my father last night.

It was pretty weird. There he was, gone in his bed at the nursing home (a sight I’ll never forget), and then he was in one of those drawers they have at the morgue, but awake. They called us three weeks after, saying it was a mistake, so there I was to pick him up. He was awake. And so I drove him back to the nursing home.

I hung out in his room and talked to him, catching him up on all the madness, namely the election and the raging dumpster fire that is our President-to-be, and the ‘bad dream’ (pun intended, I guess) that was the relationship I recently got out of (both stories complete with protagonists who are fond of to gas lighting! Yay!)

So what does this dream mean? Well, I’m not expert in how to interpret dreams except I’ve heard when you dream of the dead they’re thinking of you. But here’s the best I could get from Dreammoods.com (I’ve bolded and italicized the parts that may be relevant to me):

Dead
To see or talk to the dead in your dream forewarns that you are being influenced by negative people and are hanging around the wrong crowd. This dream may also be a way for you to resolve your feelings with those who have passed on. Alternatively, the dream symbolizes material loss. If you dream of a person who has died a long time ago, then it suggests that a current situation or relationship in your life resembles the quality of that deceased person. The dream may depict how you need to let this situation or relationship die and end it. If you dream of someone who has recently passed away, then it means that their death is still freshly in your mind. You are still trying to grasp the notion that he or she is really gone. If the dead is trying to get you to go somewhere with her or him, then it signifies that you are trying to understand their death. You also don’t want to be alone.

To see and talk with your dead parents in your dream is a way of keeping them alive. It is also a way of coping with the loss. You are using your dream as a last opportunity to say your final good-byes to them.

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You didn’t think I only had one dream, did you? I had a very frustrating dream in which my older brother, Richard, was arrested for shooting at his cell phone. That’s all I remember. I don’t remember where he was, but I arrived at a police precinct to bail him out and I was very frustrated, yelling at him for hanging out with the wrong people. LOL. I wish I knew what that was about! I can tell you my brother is not fond of guns and he’d never destroy his cell phone!

Dreammoods.com isn’t really helpful on this one, since all the gun interpretation seems to involve the dreamer, and I wasn’t holding a gun in the dream. The same goes for their interpretation of bail:

Gun
To see a gun in your dream represents aggression, anger, and potential danger. You could be on the defensive about something. Or you may be dealing with issues of passiveness/aggressiveness and authority/dependence. Alternatively, a gun is a symbol of power and pride. Perhaps you are looking for shelter or protection in your dream. From a Freudian perspective, a gun represents the penis and male sexual drive. Thus, the gun may mean power or impotence, depending on whether the gun went off or misfired.

To dream that you are loading a gun forewarns that you should be careful in not letting your temper get out of control. It may also signify your ability to defend yourself in a situation.

To dream that a gun jams or fails to fire indicates that you are feeling powerless in some waking situation. Perhaps you need to attack your problems from a different approach. Alternatively, a malfunctioning gun represents sexual impotence or fear of impotence.

To dream that you are hiding a gun implies that you are repressing your angry feelings.

To dream that you shoot someone with a gun denotes your aggressive feeling and hidden anger toward that particular person. You may be trying to blame them for something.

To dream that someone is shooting you with a gun suggests that you are experiencing some confrontation in your waking life. You feel victimized in a situation or that you are being targeted.

Bail
To dream that you are making bail symbolizes your need to accept help in your business dealings. This dream is trying to make you acknowledge that it is perfectly all right to accept a helping hand.

 

 

 

 

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Mi papa, Virgilio Vergel, 73

Desde que tengo uso de razón, a mi padre siempre le gustó hacer sonreír a los demás. Siempre armado con chistes, letras de canciones y bailes de moda, imitaciones de personajes, o saludos jocosos, le gustaba hacer reír a amigos y desconocidos por igual. Me gusta pensar que todavía está haciendo eso. Y, así es con el corazón encogido y una gran sonrisa en su honor que anuncio su muerte:

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Virgilio Vergel always wore a smile.

Virgilio Vergel murió el lunes 8 de agosto, 2016, en Fair Lawn, Nueva Jersey. Tenía 73 años de edad.

Nacido en Ocaña, Colombia , Virgilio, o “Gillo” como era conocido, era el sexto de los nueve hijos de la familia Vergel Cabrales. Se trasladaron a la ciudad portuaria de Barranquilla cuando tenía tres años. Mi papa consideraba “la Arenosa,” como se le conoce, su tierra natal

Cuando era un niño, Virgilio era enérgico con una amplia sonrisa que hoy se puede ver en su nieto, RJ , que tiene un parecido sorprendente. Le encantaba jugar al fútbol con sus hermanos. Cuando era un adolescente mi papa se distinguía por sus chistes, su pasión por el fútbol, y su amor por el baile y la música colombiana.

Cuando joven, trabajó como un cajero de banco, pero continuó con su amor al baile, las películas, y el ciclismo. En 1969, conoció al amor de su vida, María Socorro Díaz , cuando ella se embarco en un autobús de la ciudad y él le ofreció su asiento. Se casarían un año más tarde y se mudaron a Paterson, N. J., donde tendrían tres hijos – Richard, Gina, y David.

Virgilio le inculcó a todos sus hijos su amor por el trabajo, la música latina y americana (animaría a David en sus pasos para convertirse en un DJ), el futbol, ciclismo, vestirse bien, y el buen sentido de humor. También les hablo mucho sobre la importancia de seguir y terminar sus estudios algo que no pudo completar ya que él y su esposa se dedicaban a varios trabajos para darles a sus hijos una vida mejor.

Nunca le importo lo cansado que estaba después de trabajar un día largo. Virgilio hiso todo lo posible para que sus hijos vivieran una juventud “americana,” completa con excursiones en bicicleta a los parques locales, juegos de beisbol y futbol, o excursiones a las playas de Nueva Jersey, entre muchas actividades más. A veces la diversión de fin de semana consistiría en proyectos en la casa seguidos por asados en el patio. Otros fines de semana Virgilio iba a la disco tienda en donde le tarareaba una canción popular a los vendedores y compraba discos para que los niños los tocaran en el tocadiscos. El siempre fue divertido.

Virgilio tuvo una variedad de puestos de trabajo incluyendo como maquinista, personal de mantenimiento, y por último, un conserje en las escuelas y el departamento de policía de Teaneck, NJ, donde se retiró antes de tiempo debido a su diagnóstico de la enfermedad de Parkinson en 1999.

El Parkinson es un trastorno cerebral neurodegenerativo resistente que progresa lentamente en la mayoría de las personas. La mayoría de los síntomas de las personas afectadas tardan años en desarrollarse, y viven mucho tiempo con la enfermedad. Virgilio vivió durante casi 20 años con la enfermedad de Parkinson, y tuvo un hermano, Raúl, que murió debido a complicaciones relacionadas con el mismo mal en el 2011.

Virgilio tenía esperanzas en los avances médicos en el mundo del Parkinson, y se sometió al implante de un estimulador cerebral profundo en la década del 2000, y si bien se llevó los temblores el efecto secundario fue el empeoramiento del habla. Virgilio era un comunicador apasionado y el no poder hablar claramente lo frustró muchísimo.

¿Cosas que echaba de menos? Montar su bicicleta y visitar a su familia en la Florida, Colombia, y otros dispersos por todo el mundo. Habló de ellos muy a menudo y el vive con cariño en sus memorias.

Hay muchas cosas que no dejó de disfrutar hasta que se fracturo la cadera en enero del 2015: Ver partidos de sus equipos de fútbol colombianos favoritos, hacer ejercicio en su bicicleta reclinada, escuchar música (tocando las maracas) , y ver películas . Por encima de todo, Virgilio fue capaz de vivir muchos años felices en su casa con el amor de su vida , María , y visitas frecuentes de su nieto , RJ , y su nieta, Bella.

Le pedimos que recuerden el amor que Virgilio tenía para la vida cada vez que escuchen música colombiana o historias divertidas. Le pedimos que considere hacer una donación a la Fundación de Micheal J. Fox, que está trabajando para encontrar una cura, o la Fundación Nacional de Parkinson, que se esfuerza por mejorar la vida de las personas que viven con esta enfermedad.

Virgilio le sobreviven su esposa, María, sus hijos Richard y David, hija Gina, así como hermanos, hermanas, sobrinos y demás familiares dispersos en la Florida, Canadá, Colombia, Argentina y España.

 

My father, Virgilio Vergel, 73

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Virgilio Vergel always wore a smile.

For as long as I can remember, my father always loved to make others smile. Armed with jokes, song lyrics with dance moves, imitations of characters, or funny greetings, he was fond of bringing a hearty laugh to friends and strangers alike. I like to think he’s still doing that. And, so, it is with a heavy heart *and* a big smile in his honor, that I announce his death:

Virgilio Vergel died on Monday, August 8, 2016, in Fair Lawn, N.J. He was 73.

Born in Ocaña, Colombia, Virgilio, or “Gillo (pronounced: Hee-yo)” as he was called, was the sixth of nine children in the Vergel family. They would move to Colombia’s port city of Barranquilla when he was three. He considered “la arenosa (the sandy city),” as it is known, his home.

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That’s Virgilio on the left. It’s uncanny how his grandson, RJ, has the same smile.

As a boy, Virgilio was an energetic child with a wide smile today can be seen in his grandson, RJ, who bears a striking resemblance. He loved to play soccer with his brothers. As a teen he was known for cracking jokes, playing soccer, and his love of dancing to typical Colombian music. As a young adult, he worked as a bank teller, but still enjoyed going dancing, sneaking into outdoor movie theaters, and riding a 10-speed bicycle.

In 1969, he met the love of his life, Maria Socorro Diaz, when she walked onto a packed city bus and he offered her his seat. They would marry a year later and move to Paterson, N.J., where they would have three children — Richard, Gina, and David.

Virgilio instilled his love of hard work, Latin and contemporary American music (he would encourage David to become a DJ), futbol/soccer, cycling, dressing sharp, and socializing with a sense of humor to all of his children. He also impressed upon them the importance of continuing onto a higher education, something he could not complete as he and his wife worked several blue collar jobs to give them a better life.

No matter how tired he was from a long day’s work, Virgilio would do everything possible for them to have an “American” upbringing, complete with bicycling trips to local parks, pickup softball games, or day trips to New Jersey beaches, baseball stadiums, or amusement parks. Sometimes the weekend fun would consist of projects around the house with cookouts in the backyard, or a trip to the music store, where he would hum the latest popular music to salesmen so that he could buy a 45-inch for the children to play on the record player. No matter what, it was always fun.

Virgilio worked a variety of jobs, as a machinist, maintenance person, and lastly, a custodian in schools and the Teaneck Police Department, where he retired early due to his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease in the late 1990s.

Parkinson’s is a tough neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. Most people’s symptoms take years to develop, and they live for years with the disease. Virgilio lived for nearly 20 years with Parkinson’s, and he was predeceased by his brother, Raul, who died due to complications related to the same disease in 2011.

If we could do one thing over, we would have had him start some type of an exercise regimen earlier, as opposed to telling him to rest more (something people tend to say to those who are ill) when the disease was “new” to us. Exercise has been shown to be very beneficial to those with the disease.

Virgilio was hopeful in medical advancements in the Parkinson’s world, as he underwent deep brain stimulation in the early 2000s, and while it took away the tremors, the one side-effect he had was the worsening of his speech. An ardent communicator (much like his daughter, Gina!), this often frustrated him.

Things he missed doing the most? Riding his bicycle and traveling to visit his family in Florida, Colombia, and others scattered throughout the world. He talked about them very often. He lives fondly in their memories.

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With grandson, RJ.
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With granddaugther, Bella.

There are many things he continued to enjoy up until he broke his hip in January 2015: watching the Colombian soccer teams, riding a recumbent bicycle, listening to music (while playing the maracas), and watching movies. Most of all, he was able to live many happy years in the home with the love of his life, Maria, and frequent visits from his grandson, RJ, and more recently, his granddaughter, Bella.

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Virgilio, in the top row, with the cool, gray hair and mustache!

We ask that you remember Virgilio’s fondness for life and celebration every time you hear Colombian music or funny stories. We ask that you consider making a donation to either the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Research, which is working to find a cure, or the National Parkinson Foundation, which strives to improve the lives of those living with Parkinson’s disease.

Virgilio is survived by his wife, Maria, his sons Richard and David, daughter Gina, as well as brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, and other extended family, in Florida, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and Spain.

A small service will take place at East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clifton, N.J., at noon sharp on Saturday, August 13.

On the holidays… and change

christmasChristmas will never be like it was when I was a little girl. This is a post about how it used to be, and how things have changed. Lots go through it, and now it’s our turn.

When I was little, we didn’t have much — I will never forget one Navidad in particular in which my dad gave my brothers and I $3.00 each in a white letter-sized envelope. I wasn’t sad about the lack of toys for gifts, but felt awfully embarrassed for my father and told him it was OK. But it was awkward. I recall vividly that he handed us those envelopes on our way out to visit with family. We stuffed our stash in our rooms and piled into the car. The holidays were here and we were going to have a good time as we knew how!

Christmas time was filled with a jolly (yeah, that word describes things perfectly) times with our small, yet close, family.

My tio Raul (my father’s older brother and without question the uncle I was closest to) and tia Yolanda were always a part of it, as were my (distant? Not really, try super close!) cousins, Maria and Susy, whose mother, Mari, was my tio Raul’s sister-in-law. My aunts on my mother’s side (Mirta, Nina, Chiqui), their children/my cousins, and my maternal grandmother (abuela Esmeria) would get visits from us, as well. Gifts weren’t aplenty, but food was cooked with love, Colombian music—courtesy of my dad’s record player—filled the living room, and good times were had.

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The only way we can see my abuela now is by flying to Miami.

As we grew older, most of the family moved away to warmer climates. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the late 1990s and things haven’t been quite the same every since. My maternal grandmother, now in Miami, would go on to develop Alzheimer’s, and later, my tio Raul, also in Florida, would find out he, too, had Parkinson’s.

Somewhere in there, I was married, then dealing with the spouse’s alcoholism. Then I was separated, and divorced. Throughout it all, there were no tears on my part, only would’ve, could’ve, should’ves. It’s like I lost my ability to feel.

Cousins got married, some moved away, and, as happens, life gets in the way. There are work and parenting commitments, as the next generation of children have to be raised, and so, not surprisingly, intimate family gatherings hardly take place.

Today, Dec. 23, marks four years since my tio Raul passed away due to Parkinson’s disease related complications. I got to see him at a nursing home a few months before he passed, and, honestly, I know he’s in a better place today. I miss him terribly, but Parkinson’s can be an awful disease. I say can be, because I acknowledge there are other illnesses that are much, much worse.

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My Tio Raul (left in L photo, center in R photo)

But Parkinson’s eventually imprisons one in their own body. It starts with nerves and muscles, but eventually takes your voice. I remember when I visited him, I could hardly hear him. I kept a happy face and joked around, as I always do, but it is awful to see. I didn’t want him to feel that way.

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The last time I saw my uncle in 2011. With my cousin Maria (L) and my tia Yolanda (R.)

Meanwhile, back home, my father was still as stable as the Deep Brain Stimulation surgery he had in 2006 could keep him. He hadn’t had the Parkinson’s tremors in a long while, but his voice and ability to speak were eroding, and rigidity was taking away his independence via walker. He became wheelchair-bound, but he was home for every holiday.

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Dad at two different Christmases.

However, this will be the first Christmas without him in the home while we have Christmas dinner, for instance. Here are some tips on how to cope with grief and loss throughout the holidays, courtesy of Fordham professor Lisa Cataldo.

“People think they’re supposed to be happy during the holidays. This is supposed to be a time of sharing with your family, of positive relationships, of celebration and joy,” Cataldo said. “Many people feel alienated, because they’re not in that space, and that idealized image of the holidays only makes them feel the lack of those things more acutely.”

 

Two thousand fifteen has been a tough one for our little clan. My father fell and broke his hip on Jan. 21, 2015, and was in and out of hospitals, knocking on death’s door at least three times through March. Since then, he’s been in a nursing home, and it’s not easy. Sure, it’s a facility that can serve his needs 24/7, but this comes with much advocacy from us. You have to be there to make sure he’s not neglected. Any sign of a temperature or low blood pressure can spell trouble. A very bad bed sore he developed in February is only now showing signs of progress. (This after I had a very honest discussion with one of his nurses, who said he’s probably go to the grave with that wound. It wasn’t harsh; just real.)

In late August, I had to put my best friend, my 14-year-old black lab mix, Skunky, down. A cancerous tumor forced me to put him down and I still can’t believe I live without a dog!

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Me and Skunky in Washington Heights.

Thanksgiving was sad, but no one talked about it. In addition to the fact that my older brother, wife, and nephew moved down to Orlando, the house was quiet. My mom and I visited my dad in the late afternoon/early evening. My younger brother stopped by as late as visiting hours would allow. Out by 8 p.m.

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Christmas 2014, my dad’s last one in his house!                                              With my nephew, RJ, and my mom, Maria. 

My younger brother’s girlfriend’s mom and brothers came over, which was nice, but it was very low-key. When the patriarch of the family isn’t around, and can’t even eat due to Parkinson’s related swallowing problems, it’s just sad.

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Happier times, despite the Parkinson’s.

To make things worse, we have not quite dealt with our feelings. In one of the bad hospital stays, where a very bad pneumonia caused ICU doctors to have to intubate him, and even insert an I.V. of antibiotics through his carotid artery, my mom and I cried a little, but something about our family of five prevents us from outwardly displaying our fears and general grief. Again, it’s like we’ve lost our ability to not be numb.

There are frequent spats between us, about who doesn’t visit, or visit enough, and the person who is doing the most, of course, is my mother. She is trying to live her life, joining a YMCA and attending classes, and doing better at not spending all day at the nursing home, which is draining.

It’s draining because my father tries to speak to us and we can’t understand him. It’s draining because there are so many residents who don’t get visitors and look to you for any little conversation. It’s draining because there’s a certain smell, a certain way the staff there is overworked and stressed, and, most of all, because we know he’ll be there for the rest of his life.

It’s also disheartening to recently read about nursing home employees sharing pictures of themselves mocking or abusing patients on social media. It just adds to my guilt that I need to be there more. Working in New York, living across the river in Jersey City, and having to drive further north to the home in which my dad now lives.

There’s a lot of wondering what life would be like had he not gotten sick, or remembering what he was like before he was diagnosed. It’s pointless, but it comes up in conversation a lot when we get visitors.

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With my brothers. I miss my sister-in-law (third from left), now in Florida.

I think a lot about possibly getting Parkinson’s myself. I dream vividly; I always have, but telling my mother about how it can signal Parkinson’s really upset her. But I’m just being realistic about the fact that it can very much be genetic. I spend a lot of the time at the gym because of this, since exercise has been shown to slow the progression of the disease, something we did not know when my dad was first diagnosed.

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My nephew, RJ, lives in Florida now, and I miss him so!

I was never really big on winter holidays. I always liked the Fourth of July and summer in general. I dislike the cold, the dark coming early, and having to stress out about gifts. But we’ll do it. Christmas will be fine, but figuring out how to be with my dad when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1 is another hurdle. (We’re not sure if visiting hours will be strictly enforced or whether we’ll disturb his three roommates.)

If I could have one wish for 2016, it’s that we deal with this better. It doesn’t seem like my younger brother and I have time for support groups or therapy with the full-time jobs and side gigs, and having to drive to visit mom and dad. But I’ll suggest it. We’ll see.

I am EMPHATICALLY grateful that my father is still with us. He doesn’t seem to be in pain many times, but as his nurses aide sometimes says when I’m in his room with her wonderful Haitian accent, “He seems miserable.” (I think it’s more aches that come with being bed-ridden most of the time.)

I pray 2016 brings us some better days.

#JCFridays & JC’s West Side Holiday Craft Market!

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Jersey City’s Twiddlin Thumbs 

My effort to discover (or rediscover, as my ex-husband grew up there and I’d spent much time here in the early aughts) the city I live in continues.

On Dec. 4th, I attended #JCFridays, a city-wide celebration of the arts in chilltown included different exhibits and more throughout the different neighborhoods.

In true ‘I’m-gonna-get-to-know-this-city,-damnit’ fashion, I rode a Citibike from my corner of the Heights to the Grove Street area, where I saw art by Janyewest, Awol, Denai Graham, and Cheese (who, no shit, was written about in the New York Times back in ’96!), at the very spacious and chic Blow Out Society salon.

Later, I mozied (via LYFT, using one of my five free rides via a promo when I downloaded the app) to the JC Fridays event put on by the folks at “A West Side Story” over at the New Park Tavern. I checked out a photography exhibit by Scott Sternbach. Chatting with the photographer and filmmaker, I learned he’s attempting to document as much of the West Side as he can before it gets changed through gentrification. Let’s face it: that time can’t be too far away.

There were also two cool bands: the Penniless Loafers, a ska band, and the Twiddlin Thumbs, a folk band featuring a washboard and a banjo!

So, what’s next? It is December, so I might as well shop at the JC West Side Holiday Craft Fair.

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The cool think about this market is that it’s in a neighborhood outside of the uber-popular downtown area, and it aims to serve all, since it was very reasonably priced for vendors to join. I have to believe this means lower prices on items, which is better for shoppers!

Taking place Saturday, Dec. 12th and Sunday, Dec. 13th in the Gallo Center in Lincoln Park in Jersey City, this fair will feature over 20 local vendors selling food, crafts, and holiday presents.
Visitors can expect a festive atmosphere, and offerings from vendors such as Hot Lollies (who will be selling packs of homemade candies made from daring ingredients like tamarind and ghost peppers), Metal, Cloth and Wood (who will be showcasing their elegant women’s jewelry), and Type A Fibers (who sells handspun yarn from local wool providers, along with knit and woven items).
Plenty of ready-to-eat food will be available from Andy’s Modern Kitchen and other vendors, making this not only a shopping event, but a complete and fun afternoon for everyone who attends. WMFU personality and poet Jim Behrle – from the show Sportsy – will be in costume and handing out free candy canes to children of all ages.
West Side Community Alliance (WSCA) president Jodi Drennan says, “It’s really exciting to welcome more events like this to our neighborhood! We’re delighted to give our residents more opportunities to shop locally and support independent artists and artisans, and at the same time spend a fun day out in our community.”
Event co-organizer Amy Wilson notes that she’s put together several such events in NYC, but is “thrilled to finally bring this kind of creativity and experience to my neighborhood.”
The fair is sponsored by WSCA, Rising Tide Capital, and the Jersey City Parks Coalition, this fair will present a fun and festive holiday celebration that is free to attend and open to all, inside beautiful Lincoln Park’s Gallo Center.

 

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The JC West Side Holiday Craft Fair wants to see you!

My dog is dying.

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Skunky & I went on a long, 2.5 hour walk the other day. Yes, I brought water with us. He’s not the quick walker he once was, but I think he enjoyed walking along the Hudson River from the other side. Some of his best years were spent walking along the Hudson from the Washington Heights/Harlem side.

My dog is ill. He is dying, and I think it might be time to let him go.

Last month, when I found out the tumor on the roof of Skunky’s mouth was malignant (with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer that most often affects dogs), I felt numb to the news, in part, because, aside from being a little less active (he is 14, after all), he seemed fine. He was still eating normally and happy as ever to get out of the house and go for a walk.

The vet, who told me he would advise his own mother against putting the dog through chemo, radiation, or cryosurgery, told me to spoil him rotten, make him comfortable, and to monitor his quality of life as I’d know when it was time to let him go.

As a kid, if a horse or dog had to be put down in a book I was reading or a movie I watched, I never understood it. Why couldn’t the doctor patch them up?

But in the vet’s office that day, I recalled a time when I took Skunky to Inwood Hill Park when we lived in northern Manhattan some years ago. It was late fall, an absolute beautiful time in that park, and during our walk, we passed by a man wheeling his German Shepherd-mix around the trail on a dolly as, presumably, his elderly dog could no longer walk. That was no life for the animal, I thought to myself. That’s selfish. That’s keeping the dog around for the owner, and I won’t ever do that, I thought.

And now, I find myself at that fork in the road. Yesterday, one side of his snout began to swell. Again, he is still eating and will go on a walk, but the swelling looks pretty bad. And he knows that I know something is up. When I look at him, or pet him gently, he starts to wag and gives me that look of shame he so often gave me as a pup if he thought he did something wrong.

I think it’s time to have him put to sleep. I know I will miss how he greets me when I get in. I will miss his extreme loyalty that ensures he never leaves my side. He’s part of the family, and that’s why my mom, brother, brother’s girlfriend, and the other pet living in the house (a shorkie!), don’t seem quite ready for him to go.  (This is partly why I feel guilty about having to make this decision.)

I spoke with a colleague about this a few weeks ago, as he worked at a veterinary technician many years ago, and he said, more often than not, owners wait too long. It’s not like a pet can tell us if they’re really suffering, right? He assured me the dog wouldn’t feel a thing when being euthanized. That gave me some comfort.

But it’s still tough.

You see, this is happening at a time when my own father is nearing the end of his life. A very strong man who never had any health problems aside from his Parkinson’s disease, he’s been living in a nursing home for the past seven months. My father is not suffering, per se, but I wouldn’t say he has a great quality of life.

He is incontinent. His limbs are contracting. He is fed through a peg tube. He relies on nurse’s aides to reposition him every two hours. His ability to speak is pretty much gone. He does attempt to let us know when he is in pain. Sometimes, it’s not that, but it’s tough to understand what he is trying to tell us.

The best we can all do is make sure he’s as comfortable as possible. I thank the staff at the nursing home for doing that as best they can.

In many ways, it feels like he is already gone. I always loved talking to my father (he’s a very jovial and funny man) and I haven’t been able to do that in a long while. But, he’s not gone, and this is why 2015 has been a limbo year for me. I am constantly waiting for a shoe to drop. I cannot, I will not, enjoy myself. Being social is the last thing on my mind because it doesn’t feel right.

I control that, and I know I can make a better effort to “live my life” while my dad is at the nursing home, and while Skunky lives his last doggie days. But right now, I can’t seem to find my footing.

Riding with the wind

Photo taken today in Central Park: http://scenebygina.tumblr.com/post/122200618607/great-ride-using-my-jamis-commuter-bike-around
Photo taken today in Central Park: http://scenebygina.tumblr.com/post/122200618607/great-ride-using-my-jamis-commuter-bike-around

My father has been doing somewhat better. He continues to stay free of any infections, and I’ve been sitting him up whenever I visit. It’s tough, his arm and leg muscles seem to get more contracted as he’s been bedridden for six months now, but I don’t care; I see him more alert and awake when I help him sit up.

In the meantime, a hobby that my father enjoyed in his 20s is something I’ve picked up: cycling. I use a Giant Sedona CX (2005) for riding around Jersey City, and various New Jersey parks. I had a great two and a half hour ride along the Hudson waterfront, from Newport in Jersey City to Weehawken this past weekend.

I also have a a Citizen Tokyo folding bike for shopping at the produce market nearby. It’s ideal for short trips only.

And I just bought a 2011 Jamis commuter 3 bike for CITY riding! I rode an hour through Central Park today, up to 110th street and back to the Columbus Circle area. It was hot today, but that doesn’t stop the action in Central Park, which was full of runners, cyclers, roller bladers, and more.

I can see why my dad loved to ride his bike. (I remember he rode a Gazelle.) Like running, it clears the mind, but it’s much more relaxing. Something about that wind hitting your face. (I imagine it’s what people who ride motorcycles love, too.)

And, of course, I’m doing something I know my father loved.