Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A flood of engagement and clarity

News flash! Dad is totally on top of the current flooding situation in both the Elkhorn River area of Nebraska, and the region north of Oklahoma City including Edmond and Guthrie. Dad can reel off names of all the towns along Highway 81 near Norfolk, the number of bridges out, and the sandbagging operations. When I fact-check his reports, he has it nailed.

This same dear old fellow couldn't separate news of Israel's Gaza blockade from the depressing reports about BP's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico when I was visiting him. Most days he doesn't bother to concentrate on current events at all. His big challenge is squinting at the digital clock to decide when to start wheeling down to the dining room for meals.

Dad's not just engaged in the news. He has a fresh perspective and sense of gratitude to be "high and dry," and living in a facility that cares for and about him.

I'm wondering just what part of the disasters hook Dad's thoughts and drag them out of the fog. Is it the placenames recalling childhood homes and more recent visits? Is it the Dustbowl Era childhood memories of Nebraska droughts and floods? Is it the tactile experience of his own distant childhood efforts to build little dams on Willow Creek? Or is it a resurfacing of the empathy that often made him contribute to Red Cross efforts during international catastrophes?

I wish I could share with Dad the Google Maps satellite views and YouTube videos, and record his memories of the topography and history of the region. As it is, I'm just enjoying this window of clarity with Dad. I wouldn't wish flooding on any person, home, or community, but I'm thankful for this side effect.

© 2010 Nancy L. Ruder

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