Here we are, my sister, brother, father, and me. I won't include our step-mother in this crazy mix, she's an innocent bystander, at least when it comes to family dynamics.
Funny how the years have not changed us much. When we were kids I always had to sit between my brother and sister in the back seat of the car - to keep them from fighting. I am still the quiet one, the older sister in the middle of a bickering brother and sister. At least they aren't fist fights, just little snippets back and forth. Nothing serious, just sibling stuff.
My dad, despite his frail health, is still the head of the household. He sits in his hospital chair, with his oxygen mask, but still manages to give us our chores - load this program, copy these pictures, find his email addresses, charge his camera, change the tires on the car, etc. Occasionally we don't quite get what he's asking for, and he barks at us...and we jump.
He hasn't lost his sense of humor. He still gets a charge out of scaring the nurses. He told us that when they were moving him from one area to another and had to reconnect his oxygen, just as the nurse went to put the tubing on the adaptor, my dad said "Boom!", and the nurse jumped and ran out of the room.
I guess this runs in the family, because yesterday my brother was putting a plug in the wall, and as he pushed on the plug, both he and I went "Zzzzttttttt" at the same time, and my brother jolted his body like he'd been shocked, trying to scare everyone in the room. My sister was the only one fooled by this.
Although my dad is happy to have us all visit, he is most eager when it's time to leave. Time to leave comes upon us quickly, dictated by the call of nature. "Go, go now!", orders my father. And we all scramble to collect our belongings and get the heck out of his room so he can attend to his needs.
We bought my dad an ipad, a gift we thought he might enjoy, especially to look at pictures. The screen on the ipad is wonderful - photos look great and he and our step-mother have really enjoyed looking at all the pictures. With technology comes challenges, and our visits have turned into technological sessions - wifi issues, voltage adaptors, uploads, downloads, program installations, configurations, extension cords, ipod touch, and cell phones. All cords and chargers are arranged on the side table within easy reach.
The hospital is new and modern - the room has a tv that is internet-enabled. But how does someone use a touch-screen tv when seated in a chair across the room? My dad has a secret weapon - his gopher. The other day he demonstrated how he uses the tip of his gopher to change channels, push icons, and put his tv into full-screen mode. And he's become an expert.
My dad is the control center of life here in Norway. Even though he is sitting in the hospital, he calls on a regular basis to see what we are up to, to pass along requests, and to tell us how he is doing. I remember the old days when hospitals were unfriendly places and people had to get special permission to bring in something as simple as a radio, first getting the electricians in the hospital to check out the cords and put a stamp of approval on the device. Cell phones were not permitted for anyone. How things have changed, and thank goodness for that - the patient is able to maintain some control over their life even if they can't get out and about during their hospitalization. So much better than just sitting idle and bored, waiting for nurses, doctors, medicines, and visitors.
Tomorrow is our last day here. We are still hoping for some sunshine so my brother can take some stunning pictures of the views and the wooden homes. We are hoping to find a frozen pie shell, and if not, the ingredients to make pastry - we promised my dad a piece of pumpkin pie. We will get the tires changed, and try to find a drugstore and an eyeglass store to pick up some items requested by my dad. And we will try to eat as much of the leftover food as possible. Anything to oblige.