Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ten Years Ago...

I plan to continue the series on Biblical Patriarchy, as my time and the topic allow.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning another series, about events ten years ago. In the macro picture, I'll discuss hurricanes: Katrina, Rita, evacuation, rebuilding. On my social media (Twitter, Facebook), I will try to center articles by & about those directly affected. Accounts of people from New Orleans, the Bridge incident, that sort of thing. I won't self-promote my posts.

Here, on my own blog, I have processing of my own to do, as the macro level affected the micro.

Ten years ago, about this month, my grandfather's health was failing. Some aspect of his medical situation put him in a nursing home, and the extended family was encouraged to come in small groups to spend time with him.

Ten years ago, about this week, I flew from Houston to Indianapolis. Most of the time I made that flight, I looked for the connection through St. Louis. Whether for price or schedule, on this flight to Indianapolis, I had a layover in New Orleans. This time, at the airport, I looked for a restaurant that would serve local cuisine. I just, had a feeling.

My job, at the time, could be extreme.  There were phases when my team worked three shifts, to support shuttle flights. Wayne Hale discusses his side of it here. What Wayne doesn't mention, in that post, is that as part of the lessons learned from the loss of Columbia, the International Space Station team had done the math, to know exactly how long we could support the combined Shuttle + ISS crew. I will not go into the details of the contingency planning, what is important is that it existed.

I was on the life support systems team, which tracked many of the necessary consumables (oxygen, water, food) and outputs (carbon dioxide, etc.)

Beyond that semi-knowable schedule, real-time support meant that I could have a normal or even slow workday, and then hardware might fail at 4 pm and I'd find myself staying on for several more hours.

I made plans for a long weekend with the family, knowing that I would be missing a Monday meeting. Before I left, I went and spoke to everyone I could find for that Monday meeting, and explained the situation, what my presentation was about, and why my presentation needed to proceed even though I couldn't be there.

Family picked me up at the Indianapolis airport, and my uncle let me use his car to drive to the nursing home. Friday was a lot of just trying to be present, with Grandma at Grandpa's bedside. Meals, his physical therapy. My grandfather did not want to die in a nursing home, and at one point I reminded him that his physical therapy was to allow him to go back home.

Saturday, my parents, siblings, another aunt & uncle and their children all came to the nursing home. My family tried to leave town... and got a flat tire. Most (all?) of us ended up eating lunch together at a local restaurant, party of ~15ish.

Sunday afternoon, I took some time out in my uncle's yard to practice my martial art hyung, forms, pre-designed pattern of movements. The moving meditation has often helped me clear my thoughts. I had been practicing for 3 years, and had lost enough weight that with one simple motion, my wedding ring flew off into the grass. We searched and searched for it, with no luck.

On Monday morning, my cousin navigated me to a rental company where I rented a metal detector. With that, I found my ring in about 30 minutes or less. Another cousin wanted to try it out for a while, so I made sure my uncle knew what time it had to be returned for the lowest fee.

I spent some more time with Grandpa, and then I was headed back to Houston.

Tuesday morning I arrived at work to discover that the one person I couldn't find to discuss the Monday meeting... was wanting to know why I wasn't there and trying to delay my topic to the next week. So we worked through that, and it didn't get delayed. But the message was clear.

Grandpa got out of the nursing home, perhaps late September, early October? Maybe by the time we had evacuated for Rita. He died in early November, on the morning that I was flying back to see him one last time.

The next post in this series will most likely discuss living on the Gulf Coast, hurricane preparation in general, and may begin to discuss Katrina.