Sunday, November 30, 2008

Living In The Twilight Zone

The month of November has been very surreal. I feel like I have been living in the Twilight Zone. First there was my unexpected surgery, hospital stay, and my continuing recovery. As soon as I was released from the hospital, my mother in law entered the hospital and died about two weeks later. I squeezed in a couple of days at the office but for the most part I did not work in the month of November. My mother in law's death coincided with planned vacation time so both were additional reasons I did not work. This afternoon some members of my family gathered at my mother in law's residence to make decisions about her personal belongings. All of her things were given to various people and tomorrow a moving company will deliver the last of her things to my home and the home of my son. It was another emotional experience closing another chapter in our lives.

Tomorrow my life will return to something resembling normal, whatever that is. My alarm clock will once again go off at its normal workday time. I will rise from my bed and face the morning commute. Waiting for me at the office is a new work location and all my things waiting in boxes. Before leaving on vacation I had to quickly pack and tomorrow I will need to unpack and resettle. At some point I will need to meet the movers at my house and hopefully still have time to make my final appointment with my surgeon. I am healing well so I look forward to the end of my health crisis soon.

While my wife and I were helping to dispose of my mother in law's personal belongings, my son, Nick, headed back to the seminary in Indianapolis. After a few classes and final exams, he'll be back home in a couple of weeks for Christmas vacation.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in America and for the first time in my life I am at home instead of visiting someone else's home. For many, many years my family would go to both sets of parents and by the end of the day my belly would be very full of the traditional Thanksgiving entrees. About five years ago, after my father in law passed away, we began going to the home of my sister in law, Judy, for a midday feast and then we would visit my family in the afternoon. Of course, my father is now in a nursing home so my mother often goes to my sister's house for Thanksgiving. This year things are a little different. We just buried my mother in law yesterday and the family is exhausted from the events of the last two weeks. As a result we decided that we would not gather together as we normally do. Each family is on its own. So I am home today with my wife and youngest son, Nick, who is home from the seminary for his Thanksgiving holiday. We will have a traditional holiday meal provided by the generous co-workers of my wife. They all chipped in and provided us with everything we need for today's meal. As I type these thoughts the aroma of a baking turkey fills the house. Life goes on and traditions change but we still have much to appreciate and be thankful for on this special day.

It is a gorgeous day. The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and it's a pleasant 55 degrees. My wife and son have been completing our Christmas decorations. That holiday is now less than a month away. The house is beautiful thanks to my wife's creative abilities and my son's assistance. We have four Christmas trees and many other colorful and joyful decorations. Denise and Nick have taken advantage of the beautiful day to take all the empty storage crates out to the shed and have also put outdoor lights around the front door and the surrounding bushes. Certainly there will be some sadness this holiday season because of my mother in law's passing but we will still be thankful today for all of life's blessings and gifts and we will also embrace the joy that the Christmas season brings with it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eulogy For Edna

Today we buried my mother in law next to her beloved husband, John. They are buried in Calvary cemetery. Right behind their graves is the enclosure wall of the Carmelite nuns. It is a great spot to be laid to rest. My sons were pallbearers and I was asked to give a eulogy. We were all honored to do these things. Here are the words I shared about this wonderful woman.

This past Sunday, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, Edna passed from this life. My father in law, John, once made a statement to his daughters about Edna that has become something of a family joke. He said, “Girls, your mother swims upstream”. True to those words and the words of the poet Dylan Thomas, she did not “go gentle into the good night”. The last couple of weeks were difficult but in her final moments she surrendered and surrounded by Denise, Pam, and Judy, she left this world in peace. I was also blessed to be in the room at the time of her passing and earlier in the day I was able to have my time alone with her. I gently held her hand and thanked her for everything she had done for me and everyone else. I prayed with her and told her we would all be fine and that she could let go and be with John. She must have heard me because she died a little while later.

I have been part of the Clements family for over 35 years. From the very beginning Edna embraced me and treated me more like a son than a son in law. She had a smile that would light up a room and a heart as big as life. If our family life together was a movie, John may have been the producer but Edna was the director. She was the real go to person if there was a problem. We knew she was the power behind the throne. This tradition has continued with Denise, Pam, and Judy. They are strong women. If you doubt it, ask their husbands.

Looking backwards over time my mind is filled with memories of life being celebrated. Edna was a hostess beyond compare and boy could she cook! I always preferred eating at her house more than any restaurant. I was overweight most of the time that she cooked on a regular basis. I did not begin to lose weight until she moved into an assisted living home and stopped cooking. We had family dinners that were legendary, not only for the quality of the food and the consumption of wine, but for their length and capacity for laughter and deep discussions. Admittedly, they were curtailed at one point with Edna’s proclamation of “No more Stingers’”! Before that day we had worn out several blenders and emptied many bottles of brandy and crème de menthe.

In addition to the intimate family dinners, I have memories of large Christmas parties for friends and extended family to say nothing of the wonderful weddings that John and Edna provided for all of us. Whatever the occasion, there was Edna with her captivating smile, her humor, and her magnificent hospitality. It is said that everyone has a gift. Edna’s gift may have been the gift of taking care of everyone and making sure they were happy. If Edna was around, your needs were met. Never content with providing one dessert at a meal, Edna would provide three!

Certainly, Edna was a great wife and a wonderful mother. As the husband of one of her daughters I could not have found a better mother in law. In addition to these roles, she was also a wonderful grandmother to my sons, Mike, Jr. and Nick, as well as Rick and Pam’s daughters, Chelsea and Christy. My own granddaughter, Chloe, called her the “old grandma” and loved to sit in her lap. Chloe made one visit to the hospital recently and while there got in the bed with Edna. During other visits in the past they would play peek a boo and both would laugh.

In her final years Edna was sometimes sad. She never got over John’s death five years ago. In spite of this there were still good times. Denise and I would pick her up and take her to the Cracker Barrel for dinner. I still kidded with her on a regular basis and I often made her laugh. Judy appears to have inherited Edna’s gift for cooking and in recent years our Thanksgiving feasts have been created in Judy’s kitchen using Edna’s recipes. Our Christmas Eve’s have been at Pam’s house and every Christmas morning Denise and I would bring Edna to our house, a house where she lived for many years.

I know I am not alone when I say that Edna will be missed. Her passing is the end of an era for our family. However, all of us take comfort knowing that her earthly suffering and sadness are over. We take comfort in our belief that she is now with John and all those she loved in life who preceded her in death. Her life was a life lived well. She loved greatly and was also greatly loved and she has left a huge footprint on our hearts. We are sad today but we will forever have our memories of her to bring a smile to our lips and laughter to our hearts. She would want us to continue what we have always done…celebrate life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Passing Of My Mother In Law

Early this afternoon, on a beautiful, clear, sunny day, my dear mother in law, Edna Clements, passed from this life. I was blessed to be present in her last hours along with my wife and her sisters. Shortly before her death I was able to spend time alone with her. She was really more like a mother to me than a mother in law. While holding her hand I thanked her for everything she had done for me over the years. I told her what a great mother in law she had been to me and what a wonderful grandmother she had been to my children and granddaughter. I told her how her husband, John, and others she loved who have preceded her in death, were waiting for her. Edna was a grand and classy lady with a smile that lit up a room and a heart as big as life. In the 35 or so years that I have been part of her family we had many, many wonderful times. There are so many stories that could be told. I will be thinking a lot about our family life and our stories over the next day or so. Like I did for my father in law when he died, I have been asked by the family to give a eulogy at her funeral. I consider it a great honor. She will surely be missed and never forgotten.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Home Again...But Alone

I spent last night in the Hospice facility with my wife and her sisters as we continued a bedside vigil for my mother in law. As of this evening she is still with us despite us telling her it is OK to let go. My wife and I came home early this morning to clean up, change clothes, and take a short nap. As we were driving back downtown I had this image of my father in law on the other side of the great abyss saying, "Come on, Edna! Just jump"! She seems so close to death yet it seems so far away. However, despite the waiting and the anticipation I know it might come like a thief in the night and catch us all off guard. Hopefully, all of us, especially my wife and her sisters, will be there to greet it and assist in the hand off of my mother in law from this world to the next one. She is resting most of the time and the Hospice nurses ensure she is comfortable and pain free. We think she is aware of what's going on. Sometimes she opens her eyes and makes sounds or gestures that indicate moments of lucidity. I am home for the night unless my wife calls and tells me her passing is imminent. If she makes it through the night I will rejoin everyone in the morning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home For A While

Tonight my mother in law is resting comfortably at the Hospice facility. My wife and I, and other family members, are at our homes. Earlier this evening the Hospice nurse who is caring for my mother in law recommended that everyone go home and get a good night's sleep because we all looked exhausted. She advised us that based on her experience death was not imminent and not likely to occur tonight. She said, "Get your rest while you can. You may not get it later". She promised to watch my mother in law closely and that she would call us immediately if there was a significant change in her condition. We all sensed she was a woman we could trust and that our mother was in good hands. We will all sleep at home tonight and in the morning we will take care of any personal needs before heading back downtown in the morning to resume our vigil.

Today I spent about six hours at Hospice. The same nun who was a chaplain at the time of my father in law's death is still there and was in my mother in law's room when I arrived. Later I ran into a priest I know. The two of us went into my mother in law's room and prayed for her. I'm not sure what my mother in law, a Baptist, would think about having a Catholic priest praying over her but we did it anyway. I was happy earlier in the week while we were still at Suburban Hospital when the nurse asked if we needed the hospital chaplain to stop by. My sister in law, Pam, pointed at me and said to the nurse, "We brought our own". If I am any spiritual comfort to anyone in the family, then I am happy to be used this way.

During a time when I was walking up and down the hallway, I prayed for all the other patients, their families, and all the caregivers. Working in a Hospice is a real ministry. For a few brief moments as I looked out the sixth floor window on the downtown landscape, I was happy to see snow flurries in the air.

Keeping Vigil

For the last three days my wife and her sisters have been keeping an around the clock vigil at their mother's bedside. I have been juggling returning to work and making hospital visits. I have had the luxury of coming home each night to sleep in my own bed. Now I am "officially" on vacation so at least I no longer must worry about going to work. Denise and her sisters are exhausted. They have been dedicated and loving daughters to their mother. At this moment they are all getting a short break. My wife is upstairs sleeping. A little while ago I received a call from one of my sister in law's telling me that my mother in law has been moved downtown to a Hospice facility. In a little while we will all head down there. Hospice is a wonderful organization and they do a fantastic job helping patients and family deal with the end of a life and the issues surrounding it. At the moment I am letting my wife sleep a little longer before we must go downtown to the new facility. I am not sure when I will be able to write again. Please keep my mother in law, who's name is Edna Clements, as well as my wife and her sisters, in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Long Day Filled With Sadness

Today was my first day back to work after a two week medical leave. It was a typical Monday. In addition to getting back in the groove of work, I had lots of catch up to do. This probably seemed more intense than it really was because I only worked half the day. I left work early because I had follow up visits with my family doctor and surgeon. They both gave me a clean bill of health although I still have an open incision that will likely take several more weeks to completely heal. Between my two appointments I stopped at the hospital where my wife and her sisters are with my mother in law. She was admitted to the hospital on the day I was released. She is very ill and we believe these are her last days. My wife cried all last night and still gets easily upset at the thought of her mother leaving us. Although my mother in law is 85 years old, living in an assisted living facility, and in fragile health, you are never ready for a parent to die. Due to the uncertainty of the immediate future, my wife and I have cancelled our trip to the mountains. There will be other autumns for us. Pictured above is a moment from a happier time when my mother in law was well and Chloe was about two years old.

Driving home from my last doctor appointment I passed the small park where I take Chloe to feed the ducks. All of the Christmas decorations are in place and the maintenance workers were testing the lights. I even saw a few...very few...snowflakes in the air.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Home Is In Chaos!

Even though it is a very nasty day, the Queen Mother insisted that we get all the crates full of Christmas decorations into the house. All day long it has been cold and wet. There are now more leaves on the ground than in the trees. The good news is that I was able to take advantage of my recent surgery and avoid the task of hauling the crates from our outdoor shed into the house. Chloe is here for the night so my son, wife, and a neighbor carried everything into the house. Now the entire first floor is full of crates and decorations. Chloe and my wife have begun the process of turning our home into the North Pole. My wife will eventually make everything look beautiful. Although I am not a fan of all the chaos, I do love the beauty of Christmas and the joy it brings to the family. We will wait, however, for my youngest son, Nick, to come home for Thanksgiving vacation before putting up our Christmas Tree.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Other Sides Of Me

Living in peaceful co-existence with my aging hippie, rock and roll persona is another side of me. It is the deeper, more contemplative, introspective part of me. I don't know why I am the way I am. I do believe I have a personality inclined to be a reflective person and a spiritual seeker. Having said this, I am not nearly as religious or holy as some might imagine. Although I was a very religious child, most of my adult life I have been stumbling along the spiritual path that life has laid before me. I can still remember the moment in time when I had my first true spiritual awakening. I was about twenty years old. I was in Cincinnati the morning after attending a rock concert at a place called Ludlow's Garage. I was sitting in a McDonald's across the street from a Catholic church having a cup of coffee. At this time in my life I was at the peak of my youthful hippie experience and I was often in a drug induced haze. This particular morning as I was looking out the window of McDonald's, I could see people coming out of church and in the midst of them was a Franciscan Friar in his brown robes joyfully walking, and nearly bouncing, along the sidewalk. At that moment I felt like I was experiencing a spiritual awakening. Going forward, God seemed to be chasing me day and night. When I could no longer resist the call, I joined a Franciscan community at a place called Duns Scotus College just outside Detroit, Michigan. This was the beginning of a journey that eventually led me to the monastery at Gethsemani. Even though I later determined that spending the rest of my life as a monk was not for me, since that time I have been on a continuous spiritual quest. So, like most people, there are many sides to who I am. I am the fun loving, aging hippie, rock and roller. I am also the family man among other things, i.e., husband, father, son, brother, father in law, friend, and Pa Paw. I don't claim to be great at any of these roles except for being Chloe's Pa Paw and some people's friend. I think I do a pretty good job being a Pa Paw and being a friend to those who choose me as a friend. The glue that holds it all together is the spiritual me that strives to be open to the deeper realities of life, the moments of wonder and awe, and the unity of all things within me. I don't know where life will continue to take me but I will strive to stay on my path and listen for the voice that calls me forward.
Sakka asked the Buddha: "Do different religious teachers head for the same goal or practice the same disciplines or aspire to the same thing?" "No, Sakka, they do not. And why? This world is made up of myriad different states of being, and people adhere to one or another of these states and become tenaciously possessive of them, saying, 'This alone is true, everything else is false.' It is like a territory that they believe is theirs. So all religious teachers do not teach the same goal or the same discipline, nor do they aspire to the same thing."But if you find truth in any religion or philosophy, then accept that truth without prejudice."
-Digha Nikaya
From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Praise Of Music

I attended my first rock and roll concert in the early Sixties. The older sister of a neighborhood friend took us to see the Beach Boys. It was the original band including Brian Wilson. The opening act was The Kingsmen of "Louie, Louie" fame. Once I heard those electric guitars and vocal harmonies I was hooked for life. In the last 40+ years I have been to a variety of cities and everywhere from hole in the wall blues clubs to intimate theaters, large stadiums and arenas, outdoor venues where I sat in my lawn chair on warm summer nights, and large open air festivals. I have seen obscure musicians and most of rock and roll's superstars. Having said all this, and fully acknowledging that there's nothing like being at a live show, during this time of rest and physical healing, there's a lot to be said for sitting in my Lazy Boy chair and watching well produced concert DVD's on my big screen television and surround sound system. It's like being in the front row without the over exuberance of dancers and beer drinkers. Plus, if I have to pee, I simply pause the show and walk into my own bathroom where there is never a line. I can do this without missing one note of music. Once I am well enough I will continue my rock and roll adventures but for now I will take it easy and sit in my chair.

Once, for the amusement of my friend, Bridget, I wrote my definition of a "Road Warrior". She liked it so much that she eventually turned it into a plaque that she gave me as a Christmas present. It now sits on a shelf in my music room. A big reason that Bridget and I are friends is because we are both music loving Road Warriors.

Road Warrior

An aging and nearly extinct creature who spends all available time and resources searching for the lost chord. These strange and exotic creatures have been known to spend their last dime in pursuit of the chills and emotional satisfaction generated by extended guitar solos, meaningful lyrics, and being with others of their kind. Often misunderstood, they are gentle creatures who enjoy simple pleasures like sitting in their lawn chairs on a summer night while good vibrations fill the space around them. They have even been known to take off their shoes and share a blanket. When dancing, these creatures should not be disturbed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mitch Mitchell Is Dead

Just about two weeks ago I saw a musical tribute to Jimi Hendrix called "Experience Hendrix". One of the musicians who participated was Mitch Mitchell who was the original drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and who played with Hendrix until Hendrix's death in September, 1970. Tonight's news is reporting that Mitch Mitchell died today in Portland, Oregon. The band in rock and roll heaven is a little larger and music fans on earth are a little sadder.

Home Alone

I woke up this morning in a silent house. My wife had quietly left the house earlier to go to work. I did not even hear the alarm clock go off. After washing the sleepiness from my eyes and face and brushing my teeth, I went downstairs to fix some breakfast. It has been a dreary day with occasional raindrops. With the rain comes the falling of leaves as thousands of them lose their grip on the tree branches. Many are still holding on and much to my happiness there is still color in the landscape. In the last couple of days I have needed to run some errands. One was to my doctor's office to give the office manager my FMLA papers. Another was to visit my sick mother in law in Suburban Hospital. She entered the hospital the day I was discharged. As a result my poor wife has been on hospital duty for ten days now. I am not sure what it worse, to be the patient or to be the person who must visit the patient. Even though my activity has been limited, I am realizing I need to take it easier. I am quickly fatigued. Today I decided to do as little as possible. After breakfast I simply sat in my chair with morning coffee and the daily news. I have discovered a new coffee. Celestial Seasons, of herbal tea fame, has gotten into the coffee business. I bought a bag entitled "Morning Thunder" and it's pretty good. Later in the day I watched some music DVD's. At some point I fell asleep so I let the body do what it needed to do. So, it has been a quiet and restful day with minimal activity which is just what I needed. I feel pretty good but the incision on my side has a ways to go before it is healed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cosmo The Dog

Chloe has a little dog named Cosmo. He is the perfect dog for Chloe. He's very friendly, non aggressive, and she loves him. Whatever is going on, including decorating the Christmas tree, he has to be in the middle of it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas Comes Early For Chloe

Chloe is moving into a bigger bedroom. Mommy is changing her older, smaller bedroom into an office because she will soon be working from home. An over abundance of toys may also be a contributing factor. Chloe's new bedroom had previously been used for storage. Part of what was stored in there were Christmas decorations. When Christmas is only a little over six weeks away what better thing to do with the Christmas tree and other decorations than to put them up! My whole family, including me, loves this time of year when the holidays are upon us. Since my little guys are now grown men, it is a great thing to have a child in the family again. I was tired of being the only one left. As you can imagine Chloe loves Christmas and she finds everything about it exciting. Many of her daycare friends think I am Santa. Chloe, however, knows I am not. She looked at me once and said, "You're not Santa. You're Pa Paw"! Being Pa Paw is a better deal. I get to see Chloe more often and it doesn't matter if she's good or bad. She can have anything she wants if I am around. It's difficult to believe that Christmas is not too far off. The weather is cooler but not cold. The weatherman, however, did say we might see snow flurries sometime over the weekend. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Prayer In The Hospital And Beyond

I believe it is safe to say that when you are a patient in a hospital you are easily moved to prayer. A hospital stay is never welcome, you usually feel awful and you are nervous and anxious about what is or what may be wrong with you. I certainly experienced all of this in the past week. My prayer was simple and involved few words. Mostly it was me quietly saying, "O God, please take care of me". I did have one experience where I deeply felt God's presence. It was mid week about 5:30 AM. Mornings begin early in the hospital. Most days nurses were waking me up in darkness to take my blood. After one such bloodletting I was sitting upright in my bed. Although I could hear activity outside my room, it was mostly quiet. The morning sun was slowing rising and light was showing through the trees in the park outside my window. I simply sat in silence and bathed in the moment. Occasionally I would whisper a mantra like prayer but for the most part I was still and quiet. I was overwhelmed with peacefulness and God's presence seemed palpable. It was a holy moment and the rest of the day I seemed to float in complete harmony with everything.

Although my life and spirituality have certainly been influenced by the monastic life as lived at Gethsemani, in reality I have a Franciscan heart and the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi is closer to who and what I am. Last week I received the following thoughts from Father Richard Rohr.

St. Bonaventure, building on the Franciscan experience of the Incarnation, saw the "traces" or "footprints" of God everywhere. The "journey of the mind to God" was to learn how to see the unity of all being, how to listen to the hidden God and how to read the footprints that were everywhere evident. The result was a life of gratitude and reverence and simple joy—a Franciscan spirituality. Thus Bonaventure, like most great saints, combined a highly contemplative personality with very active and effective ministry in secular and practical affairs. These words are from Richard's book entitled Radical Grace: Daily Meditations.

My spirituality and my prayer are simple. They do not involve a lot of words or disciplined practices. Sometimes I refer to the spirituality of my life. My prayer is my life and actions. It is being aware and present to the moment. It is simple joy and deep gratitude. It is full of wonder and awe with all of life. It is getting lost in the autumn beauty that currently surrounds me. It is swimming in the ocean that is God. It is life.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Election of Barack Obama

While in the hospital it was a great disappointment to me that I was not able to vote. I very much wanted to cast my vote and be part of such an historic moment. The good news is that my choice, Barack Obama, did not need my vote to win. I was also disappointed that I was not at home on election night watching the returns with my wife. Both of us were very much looking forward to watching the electoral votes rolling in. As destiny would have it, I shared much of the evening and the results with my African American nurse. Throughout the night she would come into my room to check on me and to get an update on the voting results. Shortly after Barack Obama reached the required 270 electoral votes needed to win, she came into my room. We gave one another the high five and we hugged. We also spent some time afterwards sharing our hopes and dreams for the future. I am not ashamed to admit that Barack Obama's election brought tears to my eyes. His moment of victory was very emotional for me. I believe he is a truly charismatic person and that he will be a great leader, not only in the United States, but on the world stage as well. I have high hopes for where this man will lead us. I know a good man when I see one. I know Barack Obama was not every one's choice but I urge my Republican friends to be not afraid and to share in the hope this man brings.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where Have I Been?

It is late on Friday afternoon and I have just returned home after five days in Baptist East Hospital. On Monday I had surgery and for the rest of the week I have been lying in my hospital bed being pumped full of antibiotics. A little over a week ago I thought I had a pimple on my stomach. It got worse and worse. Eventually I thought the pimple was a boil. It, too, got worse and worse. Last weekend it was very painful. Because of it I cancelled a trip to the monastery. Early Monday morning I decided to go the emergency room to have the "boil" lanced. I never made it home until this afternoon. The boil turned out to be an abdominal abscess that was caused by multiple infections including a staph infection of unknown origin. The strange thing is that other than the pain associated with the abscess, I didn't even feel sick. Once admitted to the hospital I had multiple lab tests, a CAT scan, and a Echo cardiogram. The doctor was amazed I didn't feel bad because, in her words, "You are a very sick boy". I am going to live but I must continue to take antibiotics for ten more days and I have an open wound on my side that must be packed twice a day with clean dressings until it heals. All of this is complicated by being diabetic. It is extremely important for my recovery to keep my blood sugar under control. Please pray for my speedy recovery. If you are someone I work with, I have no idea when I will be returning to the office but hopefully it will be soon!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Quiet Saturday

Last night I had a steady flow of trick or treaters knock on my door. The last one, a three foot tall skeleton, came in my house and decided to spend the night with my wife and me. Yes, Chloe spent a rare Friday night with Grandma and Pa Paw. Her sweet little voice woke me up at 7:30 AM today. We got up, fixed some breakfast, and watched "Over the Hedge" for the 457th time. We've almost worn it out. When it was time to go home I met a wall of resistance until I suggested that we stop at park on the way home and feed the ducks. She was all for that so we gathered some duck food and headed for the park. Today was a warm but beautiful autumn day. The leaves are getting more colorful by the day. After feeding the ducks we walked over to the playground and rode the slide for a while. After I took Chloe home and returned to my own home I spent most of the afternoon on the couch moving as little as possible. For the first time in my life I have a boil. It is on my side and it hurts like hell. It has been a while since I have felt such pain and discomfort. I first noticed it last Tuesday so I am hoping I am near the end of it's lifespan. Last night in bed Chloe accidentally bumped me in the stomach and I thought I was going to jump out of the bed! It's so painful I am tempted to stay home tomorrow but I won't unless I wake up in the morning and just can't move. Since it is the first Sunday of the month I will be going to the monastery. Along the way I will stop and see my friend, Fr. Dennis.