Most days I wake exhausted. I seem to need ten hours sleep each day. When I visit Dorothy at the nursing home I sit beside her and often sigh and yawn irreverently. What is it that makes me like this? Depressed, tired of myself fretting over her, feeling helpless, not doing enough for her. I remember the many days, even weeks and months, when I didn’t show my appreciation for all that Dorothy did standing by me. There was the routine of cooking, washing, ironing, sewing clothes and curtains, trips to the dentist or doctor, taking the boys to soccer, and those parent-teacher interviews. And her own things – things she accomplished, her art work, her quilting and other handiwork, her family history research and writing the stories. And the family typist – my thesis, conference papers, book chapters, kids assignments at school and university – unpaid and undervalued. Are these the things that now burden me, make me feel selfish, just a ‘prick’, ungrateful. How I used her.
There are other worries. My writing, whether I get the words right. Re-working poems twenty times, rephrasing a chapter in a new novel. Not really new – one previously written and then thrust aside for something else, some other task that seemed more urgent – now re-visited, and absorbing. How can I make it better. Publishable? And also there is the problem of marketing of what I have published. Who might buy my novels, my memoir. Kidding myself that readers will like my words, the themes and the story-telling. Book signings? Are they worth it?
And when my eldest son phones to say he’s considering robotic surgery to remove his prostate what did I think? Had my own operation in 2011 been a success? What was the aftermath? Loss of libido? Impotency? Drive? Melancholia? I talk about the follow up if not all the cancer is removed. If like for me, it lingers in the limp nodes, in the blood. Not knowing when it will metastasise in the bones. Fighting it with hormone therapy. More sluggishness, more femininity. A fetish for female things – lingerie, sleep wear, even face cream and lipstick.
I write this on the first Tuesday in November. My pick for the Cup runs near last after suffering interference. Typical! Yet good to see a female ride the winner home. There is always joy somewhere.