This is the easiest way to update my friends, so I'm putting the info here.
Dad is stable. He's having moments that seem lucid, but mostly he sleeps. The cancer has spread to his brain and this, combined with heavy narcotics, makes him a bit wacky.
We've all perfected a sobbing laugh and have completely lost the ability to keep a thought in our heads. I made a holocaust reference AND a threesome joke at the funeral home when my brother and I were at our preliminary meeting last week. The former was in reference to 24 hour crematoriums ("How German of them,") the latter to the number of cremated people you can fit in a cemetery plot (my brother asked how many people fit in a plot, the funeral director said two but occasionally three, and I said that instances of three must be nontraditional relationships or Mormons.) Neither were particularly funny. They just came out. My brother opted not to make jokes, but instead asked questions about whether you can actually buy a pine box, furnish your own, or bury an unembalmed body in the backyard. I guess you cope however you can.
Since he is in a nursing home facility that offers hospice, as well, we are surrounded by dementia patients. The only bed available was a shared room, and dad's roommate is a brilliant man who hasn't been able to communicate or interact for about five years. He has a wet/raspy lung condition that makes us wince and he makes some of the smelliest poos you've ever had the misfortune of being near. They get him up and out of the room most of the day so we can be undisturbed. The roommate sits in a chair most of the day with his mouth hanging open and a blank stare. Very very sad. We were happy yesterday, though, when we passed him in the common room. It looked like he had a girlfriend...she was sitting in exactly the same pose and their arms were touching. We like to think that he felt some sort of companionship.
There's another guy down the hall who doesn't like to use the nurse call button, so he yells "help, help, help!" in this low-pitched monotone when he wants something. I was passing his door about 11pm one night and he said, "Hey you! You better turn on my light!" I felt privileged that he was so specific.
And periodically you hear, "Code Red, Front Door" echo from the loudspeaker when someone is trying to make a break for it. It's been hot and sunny all week, so it is increasing in frequency. I don't blame them. It's lovely outside.
Tom flew in for the weekend. He made appletinis and margaritas and took good care of my mom. And me. Darlene drove down and was an immense support. Others who've offered: I'll let you know if I need company, and I really appreciate it.