Before the Bells have rung, I'm sitting on the bed in the Chemo Day Care Centre, my vital signs being taken by my Nurse for the day.
"Your blood pressure's elevated." She looks back through my chart. "You've usually been between around 130 over 65 and today you're 156 over 80. Do you have any unusual stresses in your life?"
"Beyond spending my day being poisoned in Chemo Day Care," I ask.
She laughs, looking back through my chart, "Oh that! That you seem to handle with a breeze."
"I have a mother in Emerge at Centenary Hospital."
"You still have a mother?"
"Don't get smart!" I smile. "Yes, I still have a mother. She'll be 91 in 9 days time, if she makes it that long. They've done all they can medically and are arranging to have her moved to Palliative care."
"Well that would explain your blood pressure," says the Nurse. "You need to find some ways to relax and take care of your self through these stressful times."
"Like coming here for the day," I suggest.
"Don't get smart," the nurse laughs. "Besides this is your final visit with us. Relax and enjoy it and maybe we'll let you ring the bell at the end. Do you know about the bell?"
Yes, I know about the bell.
And speaking of bells I know one reason why my blood pressure has been elevated. I haven't been sleeping well these past few days, expecting a phone call in the middle of the night to tell me my mother has passed away. This has been her 5th day in the ER and every day she has declined further. I'm as prepared as I can be for her passing, she is nearly 91, but but worrying about that possible phone call in the night is disturbing me.
Another reason is that my brothers and I are meeting with the funeral director, after I get to ring that bell today, to discuss funeral arrangements. I am not especially fond of funeral homes. Or making funeral arrangement.
Its not something that's wise to leave to the last minute, and this is about as last minute as we can get without it being the actual last minute.
The funeral director turns out to be a bouncy smiley woman in her late twenties who guides us to a table in the basement filled with urns and coffins. She looks at us in wonderment.
"Three men making funeral arrangements!" she sighs, "The world really has changed."
"Well we're not here to make decisions about flowers or urns," my brother Keith tells her, "Anything we decided about those would be wrong."
"Ya," my brother John agrees, "If you only had two choices, we'd make the wrong one."
"If you only had one choice,we'd make the wrong one." I laugh.
"So its just all the other stuff then," the funeral director says, sitting down and opening a large file at the end of the table.
And so we make decisions about the coming day and finances and costs and we get a discount because this qualifies as pre-planing even through we are approaching this so late.
And my blood pressure stays up.
And then John drives me home and I do a little tai chi and mediate for a few minutes and then turn on the computer and discover the world has been ringing bells for me.
And as I read comments after comments I can feel my blood pressure coming down.
I visit blog after blog in a state of wonderment.
And last night, again, the phone doesn't ring. And I do get to sleep, eventually
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