Monday, June 11, 2007

The Brightside of Dementia or John Makes Lemonade

White Memorial Medical Center provides a very limited number of tv stations. It carries the broadcast channels from 2 through 13, as well as KCET, some Spanish language channels, and, being a Seventh Day Adventist hospital, The Trinity Broadcasting Network. No History Channel and no Turner Classic Movie channel.

The day after John's surgery, he and I flipped through the paltry selection of Sunday programming offered as he drifted in and out of a morphine stupor. Mostly golf and ministers. We finally settled on a fairly entertaining documentary about sardines. Apparently all kinds of sharks, whales and birds gather to feed on gigantic schools of these tiny fish and although most of the predators are natural enemies, they do not attack each other during the frenzy.

After the nature show ended, an instructional program entitled, "Play Piano in a Flash!" hosted by Scott "The Piano Guy" Houston came on. The show was part of a PBS pledge drive and seemed to run for about six hours. Every ten minutes or so, John would point to the screen, turn to me and ask, "Who is that guy?" I would tell him, "That's Scott, The Piano Guy." And then John would ask, "What else does he play in?" And then I'd explain that Scott isn't an actor playing a piano teacher, he is a piano teacher. John couldn't get his head around the idea of a piano instructor having his own television series, and I can't say I blame him. He'd continue, "But what else has he been in?" And again I'd say that Scott doesn't play in anything else, he just has a show on public television, teaching piano fundamentals. Then, frustrated, he'd shake his head and turn back to the tv set. A minute or so later, "Who is that guy?" And so on.

At one point, I got up to close the door because there was loud music coming from the hallway. It turned out to be a group of Filipino Seventh Day Adventists dressed in coordinating outfits singing hymns about coming home to meet Him. Nothing like songs hopeful of a quick and merciful death to cheer up the infirmed. I grabbed my camera and popped out into the hallway to quickly snap some photos.

When I returned, the pledge drive was back on. The hosts were tallying the tote board and pleading for more contributions. I reached for the remote, hoping to find a Seinfeld rerun, but John held out his arm in protest. "Wait a minute. I think I just won something." "You did? What'd you win, Dad?" A peaceful smile grew slowly on John's face. "I just won seven million dollars."

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