Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Clearing the decks

Just a week from now we’ll have been in the hospital ten hours, been through a battery of tests, and be well primed for surgery the next day. It’s hard to take on board. Today, over lunch, Nancy read aloud a memo from the AMC full of detail about all that will be done both to donor and recipient -- not much of which one would regard as high on the list of things to do during a holiday but somehow we seemed to be in very good spirits as we made our way through the text sentence by sentence. (I had even managed, and Nancy as well, to sleep well last night, entirely without surgery-connected dreams.)

Mainly I find myself trying to clear the decks so that I can go to the hospital without being annoyed with tasks undone. The fall In Communion is finished -- the printed copies mailed out and the files for the web version sent to the web master, Michael Markwick, today. Nancy is now two-thirds of the way through proof-reading the revised edition of my Merton biography. The new text should be with Robert Ellsberg at Orbis in the next few days. I’ve also made a start on reading the galleys of the revised edition of Praying With Icons, also to be published next year. The original editions of both books are now more ten years old.

One complicating factor as we prepare for the events of next week is trying to work out Dutch government permission for Lorraine, Nancy’s 90-year-old mother, to reside in Holland. She has been with us about five months now, here in a six-month tourist visa. We’ve lately gotten a two-month extension, but the bureaucratic labors -- already costing many, many hours -- are far from over. One of the undone tasks is somehow to prove that Lorraine had only two children, Nancy and Doug (who died suddenly half a year ago). How does one prove such a thing? Unlike Holland, America has no national or even state-by-state birth register. There are special extra seals we need to get on certain official documents we already have. It all takes time, with no guarantee that in the end permission will be given. Until it is given, Lorraine isn’t eligible for Dutch health insurance and cannot even open a Dutch bank account.

Meanwhile she isn’t even certain that she wants to stay in Holland. It’s a lonely life in a strange culture. She has periods of painfully missing the US and its way of life.

Interesting. The stress we’re living with at the moment seem to have more to do with this aspect of our lives than with the upcoming operations!

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