Trip to Say Goodbye - 6
We got on the way about 6.30, but didn't want to arrived in Portland before 2, as we had said we would have had lunch. We were to drive to my niece Margaret's house, where another niece, Mary K would pick us up and take us to the nursing home to see Kathleen, then back to her house for pizza, and then back to Margaret's house where we were all staying – with Larry staying in Mary K's trailer which they have moved into Margaret's lot.
We had intended to stop at Multnomah Falls, a wonderful beauty spot we had all visited before, but there was no place left to park, and the thought of driving 10 miles, and then parking and getting on a bus to go back in, was not attractive either.
When we were following the voice instructions on Cathy's machine, we were told to go around a round about. However this proved very difficult to do. All the cars on both sides of the road were driving very slowly or stopping to take pictures. When we got nearer we realised why. That day was the annual nude bike ride – allowed by the city, with police escort and porta-loos around the the 5 mile circuit, in order to publicise the need for care when dealing with cyclists on the road. However, the race was not due to start until 9 p.m. And this was 2 p.m., and the grassy area inside the round about had about 50 bikes, complete with riders, incomplete of apparel. They looked nicely tanned as if they had long anticipated this occasion.
Margaret lives in a rather posh area of Portland, and her house was built in the 1930's, a bungalow which they had extended, so the upstairs now had their huge bedroom, a bathroom, study and library, and the basement was complete with furniture for their children to sleep there when they were required to give up their beds for visitors.
When we got to Margaret's – she told us Mary K had phoned to say that Kathleen was not at all well – was in pain, and that she would stay in the nursing home with her, but if we wanted to come up there to visit her, we could do that.
I imagined the worst. Kathleen was still alive, but who knew for how long. Margaret drove us the
four miles or so to the nursing home – which was a respite care home for her, as patients were allowed two weeks of intense physiotherapy after hospitalisation. Her normal nursing home was a very small select one, having four patients at the most, and run by the family who lived in the basement.
Mary K was sitting near the bed and we all said “Hi” to her and Kathleen who looked like she was already dead, her skinny wrinkled body was lined up on the bed as if it was on a slab, and her arms were crossed over her chest, with a sheet pulled up to her neck. Her hands were clenched tightly. She opened her eyes but made no movement and said nothing. Her eyes looked blank – as if she had no knowledge of who we were or even what was going on. But then her leg twitched and she pulled her knees up. “See,” said Mary K. “She's in pain, poor baby.” But the nurse who was also in the room said there was no fever, no infection, no reason why she should be in pain. She had had lunch including something that contained peppers. “Maybe it's indigestion,” I suggested, but Mary K was sure it was something much more sinister.
We stayed about an hour, and although she looked in my direction, there was no recognition at all. I chatted away, trying to find a subject that might engage her. But just then Larry got up and moved a bit closer, and she said, “Larry” - that was all, but it was as if she had got up and walked. She knew who at least one of us was. When Larry's wife, my sister Judy had cancer, Kathleen moved into their house for nine months to help out – so she knew Larry very well.
But before long we felt we had to leave, and we said our goodbyes, saying we would see her
the next day for the family barbeque. But how she could ever be well enough to do that, I had no idea. We drove with Mary K to her house, and Margaret and her family went home, only to return later for the meal.
Mary K and Kevin live about five miles from Margaret, and the other of Kathleen's children live somewhat farther away, but all within 15 miles of the city centre. Our meal that evening was just for us and Margaret's family, and we had a good time catching up on all the family gossip.
The nude bike race did take place, and 10,000 riders took part. We didn't see them again, although Grant (Margaret's son) and his friends tried their best to find it. The route was always kept a secret until the last minute.(photo above)