Monday, December 17, 2012

Zen Hospice Journal Sunday December 16

Phil Cushway with strawberry shortcakes
Jean had many visitors today, which raised her spirits, but also tired her out.  It also meant she did not have the chance to try a wheelchair excursion, or to walk a few steps with assistance.  In the future, if too many people show up at once, some may need to take turns.

Yesterday, when he brought over chocolate mousse, Phil said he would come back soon with strawberry shortcake.  He was as good as his word.  Phil also brought a binder contaianing page mock-ups for his "Poetry and "Protest" project; a few of the mock-ups were possibilities for displaying Rita Dove's "Lady Freedom Among Us."  Phil read the poem to us out loud, see below for the text.
Karen Creech

A frequent visitor, Karen came bearing gifts of soft, sibilant, comfortable clothes: shirts, a sweater, socks, and shoes.

Susan Martinez with camellias

Susan is a friend of Jean's from her Math Reviews era in the 1980s, who goes swimming with Pamela Michaud.  Recently Pamela and Susan were talking, and discovered that Jean was a mutual friend.  That's when Susan found out that Jean was in the Zen Hospice.
Susan told us a few things about the Mathematical Reviews days. In some ways it was the most social job she ever had, she was very fond of her fellow proof editors, and even some of the mathematicians were friendly.  But she also describes it as a very physical job, were she and many of the other proof editors would work in their own worlds, listening to their own music on headphones, hunting for math symbol typos.
Susan also told us a few things about herself.  She's a volunteer coordinator at Children's hospital in Oakland, and at the end of January, along with other health care professionals, she'll participate in a state department sanctioned tour of Cuba.  She promised to come back and tell us her impressions of the forbidden isle, and expects to be seeing us before then. On leaving, she asked us if there was anything else we needed, besides camellias (roses are always welcome, as are plants that thrive in indirect light).

Pam Cory with MJ icon

Pam is an old friend and colleague of Jean's at URS, making her first appearance at the Zen hospice. She had wanted to come before, but -- no surprise to those of us in the technology world -- work's been crazy.  She brought the Michael Jackson icon with her, knowing that Jean's a serious fan who has danced in several "Thrill the World" events.  Pam, Susan, and Jean did some editors' shoptalk, discussing the positions of editors at URS--not quite part of the engineering team, not quite support staff.  Like "governesses" in an English estate was how Pam described it, not upstairs, not downstairs, but in on a landing in between.

Matt Garber, bearing a gift of cerry-corn scones
preoared by hs wife
Cindy Fressola

This was Matt's first appearance at the Zen hospice, but he and Jean have Skyped, and they've communicated through Facebook.  Matt G. is part of the URS engineering world, but he knows Jean because he's an old folk dancing and bicycling buddy of Matt P.  BTW, Matt G. is no stranger to the realm of serious disease. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the late 1990s, he continues to work, be a family man, and an intrepid bicyclist; every September he raises money for the cause by riding in the Waves to Wine fundraiser.

Doug Flock and Pamela Michaud

In the evening Doug and Pamela brought several videos for Jean, including a documentary on John Lennon in New York.  By that time Jean was too tired to watch, but she intends to get to them soon.

The poem Phil Cushway read to us, intended to be included in his book "Poetry and Protest."  I head it as a vision of the spirit of freedom dressed in drabs by harsh circumstances, not chic, not happy, but never to be ignored.

Lady Freedom Among Us
 by Rita Dove

don't lower your eyes
or stare straight ahead to where
you think you ought to be going

don't mutter oh no
not another one
get a job  fly a kite
go bury a bone

with her oldfashioned sandals
with her leaden skirts
with her stained cheeks and whiskers and heaped up trinkets
she has risen among us in blunt reproach

she has fitted her hair under a hand-me-down cap
and spruced it up with feathers and stars
slung over her shoulder she bears
the rainbowed layers of charity and murmurs
all of you  even the least of you

don't cross to the other side of the square
don't think  another item to fit on a tourist's agenda

consider her drenched gaze   her shining brow
she who has brought mercy back into the streets
and will not retire politely to the potter's field

having assumed the thick skin of this town
its gritted exhaust its sunscorch and blear
she rests in her weathered plumage
bigboned  resolute

don't think you can forget her
don't even try
she's not going to budge

no choice but to grant her space
crown her with sky
for she is one of the many
and she is each of us