Watching My Father Living with Grilled Vegetables!

Of course, you will die for them, if you come here or - alternatively - go to Afghanistan. Here, in nice suburban Parsippany, we just saunter over to the Kabob Paradise, a food forced lovingly upon me by Lauryn Nolan years back at one of our Parsippany Day events. Since then, I was completely captivated by their food. And Luis and now my father love it, too.

My father got up to 333 pounds over a period of about a year or so, when my mother was struck with the first of too many strokes. And suddenly life was just pear shaped and out of control. So his whole focus became learning to take care of my mother, a task I would not willingly take on (this is a weakness, to be sure, but it is also a definitive statement. This is not an ideal task for someone with my disposition and personality. I cannot be close to ANY of my patients - unlike my father, who cannot do EMS the way I can - divorcing myself from the patient is what I am good at, not the opposite). It took far less time than you'd think, but he really was scared shitless at first - and why not? This is an enormous undertaking. Also, you come out of the explanations and advice thinking, "Oh, my gods, here is my [spouse, child, parent, etc.] with his or her life in my hands! How many ways to Sunday can I fuck this up?" Don't deny it - there isn't a person alive, thrown into a situation without warning of this nature who hasn't thought this at some point[s]. And all kudos aside, Ray had to go through the trial by fire, and asking people for help, and asking questions after questions, and now, well, the change in him is truly amazing.

And the unexpected bonuses that came with it. Truly you will never know what you can do until you absolutely have to - sink or swim, who wouldn't prefer to swim and get out of it more than just alive? Of course we do - it is the indomitable human spirit. Ray not only became a primary care giver but built up his nerve to 1. spend money more comfortably without worrying that overnight he'll be broke, 2. take that "don't mess with me" tone with people when needed, and 3. stop getting too nervous or verbally incontinent when looking into new matters (my mother used to handle all the money affairs - which while she did some good things, very often her view of money management, like mine versus Luis', were completely at odds with Ray's ideas of money management. She and I live[d] by the mantra, 'he who dies with the most money is still dead"; while Luis and Ray prefer to hold onto it with much more vim and vigor. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be smart with it, but often any extreme is not the right way to handle... anything).

[Welcome to the wonderful world of the run-on sentence...]

Well. Once Ray got used to the new schedule and swing of things, his weight remained there. Now, yes, he is very tall - 6'4" - and that helps, but 333lbs, while a nice triple sine number, is not at all a healthy weight. I would bring this up once in a while, but much with Luis, nagging anyone is a great way to ensure that no matter what they might say to you, they will just dig in those heels and not do it. I'm that way, so of this I know.

But then, he met Jane, made good friends, and now they are in a relationship - a very long distance one, but one none-the-less. Everyone is happy! I'm very, very happy - it only took me three years to get him to see the benefits of Facebook and talking to not only his daughter but other adults - people his age, possibly who are or have been in his situation or just to have fun - but to remain, despite this unenviable situation, connected to the outside world.

Now, it is funny but shells and shards, how people will initially react funny to hearing how my married father - whom I am very close to - is "involved with a girlfriend" until they really understand the bare bones of the situation. For one thing, he is in New Jersey, Jane is as far south as you can get without leaving the United States (but not Florida). So it is not as though there is any flaunting or weirdness that turns people off. Then, too, my mother is unable to communicate, move, do anything. Both sides of her body do not work any longer. She sleeps about 20 hours out of each day. He won't put her in a home, won't stop caring for her until the end, but imagine living with no one to speak with, no adult company. So suddenly not one single person has any negative feelings about this!

So often I find I am disappointed by peoples' reactions to many things, but in this, I am very happy! Peoples' reactions have been very positive. And I thank Jane constantly. She has seen what I have always seen, a truly sweet caring person who survived all sorts of life lessons, with Ma, marriage, raising a kid who really put him through the ringer as a teen - I mean, when I was a teen - and has come out as sweet, kind but stronger than ever on the other side. That is no mean feat. But while I never understand mean people, people who love can survive so much. Love's terrible other side, as Madeleine L'Engle wrote about. And while love has its downs and terrors it still keeps us going in a way that hate never can - even though it looks that way.

But this - this is the best of love!

And suddenly, you are wondering (as am I) why this post is called "Grilled Vegetables to Die For, aren't you? Well, the real thrust of this is supposed to be Ray's weightless, a battle that has suddenly - amazingly - become not a battle, but a very, seemingly easy, transition into healthy living all around. He is eating great foods, little meat, less carbs, tons of greens and fruits. He is exercising - walking, working outside, working with an exercising device. He is practically racing up and down stairs, doing home improvements, enjoying all of it! It is just a complete 180 degree turn around from the last four or so years. I'm delighted and so proud of him!


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