I think Sam convinced the staff at Eden Park to go along with an early April Fool’s Day joke – there is no physical evidence that he fell on his head last week! Actually, there is the tiniest reddish patch right in the center of his “headfore” (as Hannah used to say) at the hairline, so it does look like maybe something happened. He loved Mangeca’s tease about the Margarita’s. 🙂
He thinks it was about five minutes before someone found him, and there is an alarm now on the wheelchair, so if he falls out again they’ll know right away. He was reaching for the controls on the tv and just slid out onto his knees and bonked into the tv stand before toppling over. He made it sound almost graceful. 😉
He did tell me tonight that he’s been thinking about his mortality in ways he never has before. Ever since the bad flu he had a month ago. (“Aha!” I exclaimed when he said this, “It wasn’t just me that was afraid!”) I don’t think he’s actually afraid, though, just aware. He said he feels mortal, these days. He catches himself watching tv, and an ad for an upcoming movie will come on and he’ll think, “I’d like to watch that.” Which is different than when he used to think, “I will watch that.”
We talked about it a bit, because I wondered two things. First, is he thinking this way because he actually senses that his time is short (as some people apparently do), or is he just aware of it because it’s a change in his thinking that wasn’t there before? He insists he “feels fine,” and I’d say he looks and “feels” fine to me too – his energy, in the way I sense his “Sam-ness” :-), hasn’t changed. (Then, at the end of my visit tonight he wanted to know how to get ahold of me in case he needed me, so I think he is a little freaked out about thinking this way, even if he doesn’t think he’s leaving anytime soon.)
The second thing was me wondering if it was similar to the conversations we had the first year he was in the nursing home, when we read the book by Ram Dass together and talked incessantly about dying. No, he said, this is different. Then, I think it was more intellectual, now I think it’s more visceral. I’ll check out this distinction with him next visit.
I teared up at one point and told him it’s gonna be hard for me when he’s gone. He said, “We won’t think of that now.”
Mangeca, Sam was delighted to hear from you although not so happy to learn you’re facing more chemo. 🙁 He also appreciated your frankness about feeling crappy and just putting it out there. He never was one for faking much, y’ know?
Pat, I’m sorry we lost your long entry when the comment feature crashed last week. I agreed with you that all of Sam’s friends probably did tie up the phone lines inquiring about his health but you know Sam, he shook his head in embarrassment, “Naahhhh.”
Nona, Sam grinned at your comment about those bucking horses. And he does want more of your jokes!
Dick, very glad to hear Emily is doing so well, although it sounds like recovery is slow? And I’m sorry you were also caught in the stupid comment feature glitch.
I’m not sure what happened, but you should all be aware, now, that the next time you comment its going to ask you to “register”. Its no big deal, but its a way of keeping all the spam out (porn, poker, real estate, etc). If any of you want to share such stuff with the rest of us (!), I won’t stop you – but I sure didn’t like all that anonymous, repetitive, and obnoxious automatic stuff.
Jennifer – Sam enjoyed your long email (that you’d tried to post as a comment, alas!)….he didn’t have any comment about your planned spring trip today; I’ll keep you posted if he expresses any preferences about when to come. btw – I told you this briefly in my email response, but the rest of you should know that
Sam’s speech is a million times better in the morning! The last several times I’ve visited him as been in the evening after he’s tired. The last time I saw him was in the morning and it was much easier to understand him. So – any of you planning visits might want to think about ways to get there earlier rather than later. Although if the choice is to see him or not see him, he definitely rather see you whenever than not at all! His speech tonight was actually pretty dang good. The only difficulty was getting an accurate interpretation of his “feeling mortal” story above. More abstract things are harder for him to express; I had to do a lot of rephrasing, verifying, and posing possible interpretations before I actually got “the point” of that one. Which was simply him telling me he was aware of the change in his consciousness. (But he started this right after I read him Mangeca’s comment so I thought he was responding to her….but he had connected something she’d written to his own current experience – those internal leaps of logic are the ones that are sometimes tricky to figure out.)
Back to you Jennifer, Sam was tickled to hear about your date. I think he might enjoy a few more details…? 😉
Bea, Sam was thrilled to see you, and he munched on what was left of the cookies you brought him. His pleasure eating them was obvious. 🙂
Sam was also glad to see Karen, Erica, and Bob this evening. I guess I missed you all by about a half hour. 🙁 Sam said you had your color back, Karen, and hopes all goes well with you now (me, too!). He said he hadn’t seen Erica since Christmas, and Bob only once since then. He let you all do most of the talking – interested in what you had to say. He did have a question about Karen & Paul’s upcoming trip to Switzerland (which sounds like a blast to me, smile): is this trip related to a document Omi didn’t sign? He didn’t try to explain the context to me, so I’m not sure if the two stories were actually related or not, maybe that’s his question.
Speaking of questions, Lou – Sam is curious about your work! He mentioned this to me a couple weeks ago and I forgot to write it in here. He knows you do a lot of driving, but I think he’s unclear exactly why, where you go, and what you actually do? 🙂 He’s grateful you sat with him at Elaine’s funeral last weekend. That was very kind of you. He also appreciated that Elaine’s son, Peter, made sure the audio of the service was broadcast into the basement so that he could hear everything. (I think he was a bit embarrassed that he didn’t recognize Peter in his beard and mustache.)
He felt good about the service overall, tragic as the circumstances were. All Elaine’s relations said something, and he thought the a capella number was beautiful and appropriate. Sam was very glad to be there – thanks Tom & Lou for playing taxi! And it made him feel special that it meant so much to the family that he was able to make it. You all have quite a neighborhood.
Wow. This is another long one! A few more tidbits:
Sam: “How is Nora? Does she show?”
Steph: “She’s big!”
Sam: “She might have twins.”
I tried to imagine the expression on Nora and David’s faces, and cracked up laughing. 🙂 I reminded Sam that you’re due in April – 3 or 4 weeks is all now, yes? He says Hello to both of you, even though he hasn’t met Nora (yet – hint hint).
Lee, the air purifier is awesome! “Almost soundless,” Sam said. And he feels better, noticeably so. Good call!
Whew! We strategized a bit about how to keep in touch over the summer. I’m going to go by Monday to talk with Shirley about contacting me (am a bit frustrated that hasn’t been processed yet…) and also with Brian or Fred (the maintenance guys) about cable…if we can get Sam hooked up to cable, maybe we can do some laptop to laptop real time communication while I’m gone this summer….if we can get a few volunteers to learn how to turn the silly thing on…
and, the last thing. I told Sam a bit about a book I just finished for my class, Anthropology of Consciousness, called Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. It presents neurobiological evidence that the brain is built to experience god through a mental state they call Absolute Unitary Being. This is a state of mind most commonly reached through intensive meditation. What the authors have done is researched meditators in the meditative state and been able to map what the brain is actually doing in those moments when the meditators experience transcendence. Then they’ve correlated these experiences with the reported accounts of mystics from all religions throughout the ages, positioned science as a “mythology” in its own right (premised upon the belief that materiality is the only “real” reality), and demonstrated – rather convincingly! – that science and religion are NOT in conflict and that science certainly hasn’t disproven the existence of god but in fact confirms the capacity of the human brain to experience god.
Sam suggested that I might be interested in this book he read sometime (I’m not sure when, he has someone who reads to him these days, and he’s always read a lot), Many Masters Many Lives. It does look interesting….I don’t know personally where I am on the question of reincarnation, except that I’ve had experiences which could be explained in that way. And I certainly know people (some dearly) who are completely convinced not only in its theoretical possibility but as factual in regard to their own experiences and understandings.
and with that – hugs to all!