The New Year arrived quietly for me. The west coast feed of "Law & Order" was ending as midnight rolled around, and I simply turned the TV off and went to sleep. Outside there was nothing but silence, none of the rattling gunfire in the distance and drunken revelry from the apartment building on the next block that I'm sure Beth was hearing back home. It's damned quiet out here in the sticks, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Back home, illness is raging. Zoe's been suffering from a cold, which has apparently gotten worse while I've been away, and now Beth has it too. They both sounded miserable when I spoke to Beth on the phone this morning. I'd be afraid to go home for fear of catching it myself, but I was sick when I left and I've gotten no better so I figure things can't get much worse. When I get back I guess I'll just put a big "Quarantine" sign up on the door and we'll all spend the next couple of days sneezing and coughing on each other in mutual misery. The family that ails together wails together.
The situation here in Colorado looks like it's under control. My dad's taking it easy and seems to be getting stronger, I've had a little talk with his daughters (my half sisters) about them taking care of him instead of the other way around for the next month, I bought him a pill caddy to help keep his medications straight, and he's still off the cigarettes so far and it looks like he'll stay off them. I'll still worry about him after I leave, but it feels like the immediate crisis has passed.
My dad and I spent a lazy, macho day together camped out in front of the TV watching football today. Not a lot of conversation, just the occasional grunt over a good hit and comment about which way the game might go. He'd doze off, then I would, every once in a while we'd switch to a different game, but for the most part it was all football all the time. It felt to me like a quiet, low-key bonding experience. We haven't spent much time together over the past ten years or so, so it was nice to do something so stereotypically father-and-son with him.
My visit here ends tomorrow night, but I think it was a good one despite how short it was and the circumstances that prompted it. My dad's going to be needing surgery after all in a month or so and I'm going to try to come back out to be with him for that, so I'll probably be seeing him again soon.
For now, though, I'm needed at home. Beth and Zoe need taking care of and I'm the guy on call. Get me, I'm a frontier physician. (And the first one of you to call me "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" gets it...)