Crashing

Well, the doctor did tell me to use the walker, at least till I meet with the rehab specialist.  I rang this week and he doesn’t accept my insurance,  However, he will see me at a clinic.  Tom doesn’t like that but we are just going to have to suck it up and go.

I have been unable to go to the gym this week as Tom is on another binge.  Aside from  the fact that the gym and liquor store are in the same center, he’s been too drunk to really go out in public.  It is what it is.  So, as an alternate measure and part of my plan anyway, I have been doing the stair stepper as much as possible.  The  most I’ve reached is 6600 steps, not enough.

So, what I did on Thursday, was lock the room door.  It is the only room in the house with a door.  This allowed me to do some thinking, writing, reading and even watch programs that I like while I did the stepper. I did get a bit wobbly.  Tom spent most of the day passed out.  After 5, I unlocked the door.  Dunno why.  Just did.  And years ago, he did destroy the door so it’s not like it means anything except symbolically.

The last few weeks I have felt myself deteriorating.  Ever optimistic, I have tried to attribute it to the intense stress that I have been under as well as the lack of activity.  In order for me to take control, I took the walker out from behind the door yesterday.  I need to practice with it before I use it outside and frankly, I needed the extra support.  I almost  never use the spectral leg or cane in the house but I guess life is beginning to change.  I struggled not to weep.  How did this ever come to pass? How can I consider this a viable option?

It happens sometime after you become an    adult.  You walk down the street and see a reflection in a window.  Who is that adult that resembles you if you were grown up?  Wait a minute!  It’s you and you are grown up.  The next step is inevitable.  You catch sight of yourself and….  Yes, I see a little, fragile, misshapen old lady.  How the hell did that happen?

It’s after 5 and I felt a bit weakish.  I didn’t have the cane in my tiny room.  I went to sit down and somehow I didn’t sit on the chair correctly, lost my balance and fell.  I fall well but still make all kinds of noises along the way down.  Tom had been passed out in the other room.  He rushed in bloodshot eyes and all.  This man does not wake up well in the best of times.  I was flat on my back on the floor.  There’s an upside to everything.  Due to drunkenness, I had  a bag filled with bags of tea on the floor.  It was supposed to have been taken upstairs and out of the way.  I can no longer go upstairs without help so it was lying there.  Lucky!  My head hit tea instead of the floor.  So there I was.  I wasn’t hurt but couldn’t move.  This is a man with three sisters and I think he might have played with dolls or maybe not because he has no concept of how real limbs work.  I literally can’t sit up.  First order of business is to get me upright.  He pulled but I have no strength at all apparently in my core.  I slid back down.  It took awhile to explain I needed something to hold onto to keep me in a seated position.  We get there.  Next step is get me to stand or into a chair. Ha!  This is when I discovered my right leg  no longer works.  It cannot bend .   I cannot even cry.  Picture this.  Sometimes, I have problems getting out of the tub.  I lift my right leg with my arm.  If it doesn’t stay up, Tom comes in and lifts it for me.   I explained to Tom that we were going to have to do the same action but not in the tub.  He was still fuddled. Back to I do not have doll limbs.  The video would have gone viral.  Somehow, we got both legs bent.  Then  I flipped over like a bug.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself up onto the chair.  Tom stumbled back to bed.

This was a pretty devastating evening.  I knew I had deteriorated but not to this point.  I guess I need to buy one of those I’ve fallen and can’t get up devices.  I am so scared and frightened.  I WILL NOT BE IMMOBILE.  I WILL DANCE AGAIN.   I must be delusional.  The only thing to do is fight harder  Someone just told me today, in another matter, that my persistence paid off.  I guess I need to keep it up.  I am losing strength all around and crashing

Lucky 13

 

Yesterday was my 13th wedding anniversary.  I was in the hospital with Tom from 7:30 a.m. till 8:30 at night.  Our original plan had been to drive out East and either have a nice lunch out there or cash in on a restaurant card the kids gave us for Christmas.  Instead, Tom’s been in the hospital since Monday afternoon.

We had no idea thirteen years ago that this is where we’d be. We said our vows in front of a justice of the peace who knew me from volunteer work.  She gave me a lecture on how she disagreed with the public policy  position of the organization.  Then we did our vows.  It included something along the lines of in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse.  Of course, we said Yes.  Who really understands what that means? Well, we were older so we were not dewy eyed innocents.  We knew that life would hold challenges.

13 years is a not a long time in the scheme of things but we have really beaten up those vows; each and every one of them.

Life with both of us has been challenging.  He has supported me through the death of both of my parents; the dissolution of my childhood home; the loss of three jobs and of course, my continuing physical deterioration.

On his side, his rampant and destructive alcoholism; cancer; hernia and now this cardiac situation.

Monday, we went to the ER for what we thought would be a meds adjustment and maybe Valium.  Instead, a four day hospital stay with two procedures.  Yesterday morning he had a tee.  A scope was put down his throat to see if there were any clots in his lungs that could dislodge.  He came out of that one convinced he was vacuuming the car. Indeed, when he was released today, one of the first things he has done is vacuum!  Lucky me, I have a house husband. In the afternoon, he had a cardiac ablation. Fun for anniversary.

Truth be told, I don’t hold much with anniversaries.  He is the sentimental one.

I never wanted to have my parents’ lives.  Joke’s on me.  I do.  I was so frightened this week.  Normally, I am your best person in an emergency and I still was calm and collected for everyone.  Here’s the thing – when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, my mother kept on saying “Daddy had a really good omelet for breakfast.”  Well, you know how they say things about your parents’ deaths stick with you?  Sunday night, we had had the best dinner with Justin and Lisa – good food, laughter, conversations.  My mind kept on howling – just like Daddy.

Another way in which I am the same is hiding things.  I am a firm believer in transparency as my parents withheld information on my grandmother’s health.  I never trusted them again.  I share medical details about me and T to his kids.  We found out after my father died how the two of them conspired to shield us about my mother’s condition.  She had dementia.  I found we have done the same with my walking.  It’s not as if they don’t know I have difficulties but in the house I usually don’t wear the spectral leg or use a cane.  On the few occasions we have been out, they know I walk arm in arm with their Dad.  They had no idea how much difficulties I have getting in and  out of the house.  Of course, when I am stressed I am worse.  I have started to have problems with my hands.  I needed help buckling my seatbelt.  Everyone was great to me but I realized how much we have been dissembling.

As you know I was seriously contemplating divorce earlier this year.  Financial considerations stopped me. He thought I couldn’t do it because I literally couldn’t live without  him.  He ties my shoes, fixes my hair, helps with zippers and buttons.  As they say, “needs must”.  I put on my own shoes, dressed and undressed myself and did my hair.  Fed the cats, cleaned their litter. I can do it.  I did not fall.  Stumbled a few times but no falls.  So what if it took me ten minutes to put on my macrame sandals and spectral leg and it involved bent paper clips and pliers!  Don’t ask.

I know I am a control freak.  I acknowledge that one of  the reasons I married him was when he was in trouble I wanted legal standing.  I was never one of those girls with wedding plans. I used to dream of a house and children but no man.  I used to be told it couldn’t be done.  I am a boomer which explains the attitude.

This week made me realize that even though I can be on my own, I don’t want to be right now.  Pondering how we really did do our vows.  There’s work ahead.  There is a lot of pain and anger on each side.

 

Old Girlfriends, Postal and Rituxan

What a difference a day makes!  An update on the postal situation from yesterday.  I placed calls to his landlord, psychologist and the VA.  The VA was helpful.  No calls from the others by 4 p.m. so I call K back.  He’s very cryptic and said the situation has been settled for $400.  He doesn’t sound right.  “Are you on drugs?”  “Of course.”  I finally am able to get his cousin’s name and phone number out of him.  Bombshell.  K has checked himself out of facility and told them and cousin that he is coming to live with me.  This is not possible on so many levels.  He appears to grasp this and states his intent is to check into one of the cheap, tawdry motels on Montauk or Sunrise.  In fact, there is one within walking distance of my house that I call the Pedophile Motel as a year or so before we moved in there were legal issues as it appeared the town and county were housing all the pedophiles there. Alright, I tell him we’ll deal and get him situated.  I tell him that I have called the landlord and will call him again.  My husband is livid over the situation and thinks the landlord has K’s belongings.  He wants to drive over, get everything before it’s tossed then drop the dime on the illegal rental.  K says don’t call him again.  He’s spoken to him today and landlord was very cold. He also tells me to say nothing of his plan to his cousin. Now whilst I am having this conversation with K on my landline, I hear other calls coming in and my cell is ringing too.  I see one call on the cell is my neurologist so husband picks that one up.

I hang up and see the landlord has called me.  I ring back.  Wow.  K has played us all.  I worked for years on a phone so I am really good with voices and lies.  Landlord is a straight up guy.  After I saw K just before Labor Day weekend, he rapidly deteriorated and was falling several times a day.  It culminated, ironically, enough on September 11, when landlord S’s children heard yelling. K had fallen facedown for 10 hours.  K was refusing help.  S told him paramedics or police.  He was hospitalized for 5 or 6 days.  During his episode, he had crystallization of his blood.  K was released to an assisted living/rehab facility.  Ironically, my husband and I drive by there all the time.  He was there until the end of September when the insurance ran out.  The cousin P was called.  The facility told him that K could walk 160 feet with a walker.  However, he had degenerated so much during this period that he was not allowed to use the bathroom on his own.  S had looked into the apartment with a view to making it handicapped accessible.  K had lived there almost 11 years.  Apparently, he has not had control of his urine or bowel for sometime.  The apartment/room needed fumigation and a new floor.  S also determined that he could not assume the responsibility nor have his children exposed to the consequences of falling,  S drove him to the cousin P in Maryland.  He had to help him in the bathroom on the way down.

The first night at the cousin’s he fell repeatedly.  The cousin called an ambulance.

I have a call into the cousin.  The cousin takes care of his nephew who as far as I can ascertain on the phone has at minimum a significant speech impediment.  I call twice leaving messages.

In the meantime, the psychologist has left a message for me on my cell.  All three of these men know of me as an old girlfriend, not my name,  just an old girlfriend.  The psychologist, B, and I have quite the conversation.  He has treated K for years.  In fact, he has retired and is very old.  He sounds ancient on the phone.

B never knew that I knew K at the time of the original postal  incident.  I had to go into therapy because of it.  I couldn’t handle it and left K for someone else.  K stalked me and threatened me when he found out.  I know, atrocious taste in men.  At that time in the late 80’s, there wasn’t the awareness or sensitivity to domestic violence there is now.  The police told me there was nothing they could do until he actually hurt me.  Their suggestion was for me to move.  In Suffolk county at that time there was a rash of domestic killings in a few months. I know because my girl friends, their mothers and my parents all cut out the clippings for me.  And yes, I went back into therapy once his meds were stabilized and I started interacting and seeing him again.

I give B the cousin, the landlord and the facility numbers as I explain he will have more weight than I do.

 

P calls back.  “Thank G-d you called.  I have been trying to get K to give me your name, number and address!”  He told K that he wanted to talk to me before he dropped him here  today. K has even told him I have been married twice.  P questions whether my husband will accept him.  K refuses to give up my address but instead tells P how to get my house from his room.

We have a most illuminating conversation.  P also knew of me as the old girlfriend, no name.  But he knew of my diagnosis, my two marriages and that I went to Hopkins.  Unless people tick me off, I don’t usually tell them I went to Hopkins but say I went to college in Baltimore.  I did the same yesterday and all three men said “Yeah, I knew you went to Hopkins.”  P found out from me the truth of the postal incident.  No, he didn’t hit 3 -4 guys.  They did try to provoke him to do so but instead his blood pressure rose so high he nearly stroked out and was taken out by ambulance.  I thought K’s father and mother were both evil and I do not use that term lightly.  K is older than me and his teachers reported the father for child abuse.  In that era you could just about kill your kids.  There were 6 brothers.  At least two are dead and one has been institutionalized for years.  Despite this K kept in touch with his father who ended up living in an SRO.  When he died, his mother refused to have anything to do with the burial.  Only one brother came.  That’s one of my gripes against the mother.  She was a lay minister in the Catholic church and would not separate or divorce the father.  She sacrificed her sons.  I do not believe in that kind of G-d.  P told me as soon as they were old enough each son beat the father up.  K broke his jaw.  He also shared my opinion of the mother and told me more stories about her.

All three men and I shared stories of K’s increasing paranoia and remoteness. I bought a computer for K once when I had a huge bonus.  Good fortune is meant to be shared.  A few years later he returned it to me saying it was broken,  Maybe,  but apparently was truly paranoid about it.  He wouldn’t use one at the library either.  He only recently had a cellphone and I believe it was through a program.  Caller ID displayed LI Spinal Foundation.

P can’t fight him any more and told K he will take him anywhere he wants to go.  He will leave him at a motel, wait an hour and call 911.  I beg him to let me know and I will call if necessary.

Oh, and the call my husband answered on my cell?  It’s my doctor’s office asking me to come in today.  I have been approved for the Rituxan.  I don’t even register this or remember it till after 8 p.m.  This is huge.  This drug could literally change my life. I can’t even process this.  I keep on forgetting!

 

My husband wakes in a rage this morning.  How could anyone dump K?  I repeat our 911 plan.  Smack forehead.  Of course, the police will come before ambulance.  We anticipate his resistance and see jail in his future or else due to late father’s influence (top police lieutenant) K being able to stay in motel to die.  He was able to get out of a traffic incident this summer dropping names.

I call the VA again this morning.  They suggest the cousin drive him directly there.  He is technically homeless and they have a shelter on the property.

The Catholic hospital nearest me said if there were mental health issues, they couldn’t take him.

I call the psychologist.  He has had no luck with the cousin.  He said P was adamant K was going to New York.  He and his wife also had the same serious reservations about the 911 plan.  B then revealed that K was so paranoid that for five years he would only meet B at diners or restaurants away from where they both lived.  His opinion was that K cannot survive in a group situation. Also, none of us must have any guilt   as we all have done much more than could be expected.  We are all good people.

At ten of two this afternoon, the phone rang.  It was P.  He went to get K at 8 and asked where are we going?  K said I’ll let you know in 4 hours.  P refused.  They went to 7 -11 for an hour and a half.  For now sanity has prevailed and K has agreed to stay and sign on a contract to live there. He says he doesn’t want to die in Maryland.  The cousin says who wants to die?

We all agree that this is very sad.  It is.  I agree we all tried to do the best we could. But I am looking at it another way.  We have all known K for decades.  We knew of each other – the old girlfriend, the cousin, the shrink, the landlord.  He reduced us  all to the role he wanted us to have in his life. We all do that.  K is just more extreme about it due to his emotional issues.

Ok, not guilt but I am so questioning myself.  How did I let myself so eagerly be a part of this.  K and I never officially lived together.  I have been married twice, lived with someone and had numerous affairs.  Through all this we have been constants in each other’s lives.  We have been “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer.”  I need to process what it means.  I sense that somewhere along the way, we all failed him.  And I, I failed myself.  Why can’t I let go?  Why have I maintained a relationship with a man capable of hurting me physically? All relationships involve hurt.

If this crisis had not occurred, we all would still be in our roles.  How do we as a society perpetuate these situations?  We are all so close and yet so distant.

Postal

I need to get this out.  Consider it a rant, vent and reflection.

I have been worried out of my mind about my postal worker.  We argued at the end of August about his buying a car.  Yes, ok, I get it.  I have bad taste in men.  We have been friendly since 1984.  About 15 years ago, we agreed we should have married but since we didn’t, it really did work out.

Given that , we have never really argued.  We would separate.  Well, we did have a major fight somewhere around 1986 but it sorted.  I never stood up to him until the end of August over the car. Since he has Parkinson’s and mini strokes, limited income, my feeling was that he shouldn’t drive and could use taxis.

Now, my birthday is end September and he always, always calls me, sends me a card, drops by or gives me a present whether I  have been married or living with someone else. Freaked my landlord out once when they came home and found flowers on the steps.  Maybe not on the exact date but within a week.  This time nothing but I know he’s stubborn and not well.  K is paranoid, for real.  He will not answer unless he knows who is calling.  Also, since the 80’s he always has a piece of music for voicemail.  When I left him for real in 1988,  he had Fine Young Cannibals “Good Thing”  for weeks.  There is no music and the memory is full.

We have always been there for each other.  He came over with blues CDs and Clapton when Buster the Biker dumped me (just before current husband).  And he was a drug and alcohol counselor when he was in the army so he has been very helpful to me as I have been on this journey with my husband. I have listened to him and held him as he has cried over breakups and his father’s death.

As I continued to be unable to reach him, I became increasingly upset.  This is one of the reasons I stand by my husband.  He called all the local hospitals for me last week.  No results.  We were about to do a drive by his home today and contact the police.

Yesterday, late afternoon the cellphone rang with a number in Baltimore.  Ah, another IRS scam, I thought.  Voice mail! From K.  But it’s weird.  There is someone in the background with an accent who seems to be telling him what to say and the callback number is different.  I know he has a cousin in Maryland but I begin to freak.  I rang him back. Someone else answers the phone.  It sounds like he says he is a medical resident, whatever that means.  A twisted tale.  Somehow, K  decided to live with his cousin in Baltimore but now he’s in assisted living?  I saw him at the end of August and whilst he had issues walking, he was competent and functional.  His story is garbled and makes little sense. He says he woke in his cousin’s house and crashed into things. This would be normal as he has definitive mobility issues and has been living in a room for about 10 years.  The cousin called the paramedics and he was hospitalized for 5 -6 days.  He was sent to assisted living.  He is complaining about the food.  He says that they are charging him $5500 a month. On his credit card!  Now, K  has been on postal disability since 1988.  His monthly income is much, much less than that.  We live in metro NYC area so there is no way he has that kind of savings.  He tells me that he has to charge it.  I ask him where he is.  Someone puts the brochure in front of him.  He has difficulty reading it but I get the name.  This whole conversation is a torturous process , clearly not helped by my berating him as to why he didn’t let me know he was leaving.

He is a Vietnam era vet.  He also should be a Medicaid candidate.  This whole thing smells and stinks to me.  I keep on telling him he has to get me on his HIPAA.  He is a Luddite and I get the distinct impression he does not know what I am talking about.   Even though we have been friends for over 30 years, I have no standing.  LOL, that’s the reason I married my current husband – to have standing!

I also explain I am extremely limited as to what I can do on a Sunday.  He gives me his landlord’s name and part of his phone number but also says the guy is a Jets fan and won’t pick up the phone.  I also have his psychologist’s number.  Again, no one knows me.  I knew his first psychologist.  I ask if he talks about me.  He thinks so.

So, this morning I call the VA, landlord, psychologist.  The VA can’t give me any information except to agree that it’s wrong and my best bet is to get a power of attorney.  He is in another state.  His cousin’s name is too common as are his brothers.  No callbacks  yet from landlord or psychologist. I gave them the number K gave me.  I asked K what the number is and get a garbled explanation of patching through landline.

I do know where he was living and my husband says we will go there tomorrow.  Husband is concerned about K’s stuff, too.

My college boyfriend is a public defender in MD.  I speak to him every other year or so. I call him and he calls me back immediately.  He confirms my instincts appear to be right; he knows the neighborhood where this assisted living place and confirms it’s in a bad place; and I need to get the POA to truly advocate for K.

So, here’s another thing.  The attorney and I go back over 40 years and K and I over 30.  K and I always reach out to each other in times of trouble.  The attorney called me a few years back because he could see something was wrong from my handwriting on the Christmas card.  He also was nuts after 9/11 because he couldn’t find me.  When he finally reached me several weeks later, he sobbed.  I hold my relationships.  I was surprised this morning that my husband said it’s a good thing.  He usually mocks me.  I am not sure what it means.  Ties that bind?

I believe in the divine and wonder if I am not working right now so that I can help.  Worse case scenario, we know that I’ll drive down.

I am tired of being strong and responsible.

What is love at the end of the day?

It’s not ringing right  for me.  Has anyone had a similar experience with forced assisted living? Scam? Suggestions?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Good question.

Right after Thanksgiving, my husband called out to me to come look out the front window.  “There’s something odd out here.  I think it’s a turkey.”

“Really?”  asks I.  This is a man who has had issues in the past. So I gimp out to the front.  I see nothing.  This is not unusual.  I was the child who always finally agreed that she finally saw the constellation or the bride coming out the church door rather than enduring “See?  See?”   I did see JFK on the Belt Parkway though. I am not quick.

“no, no, don’t you see that black thing.”

And there against the fence across the street was a black chicken.

And then, the chicken crossed the road!  Please understand, we live in a suburban area.  The bane of our existence is a used car lot next door to us that houses a massage parlor from time to time.  Across the street on the corner is a former gambling hall.  I was reading news headlines one day at work that the newly discovered bomb plot by either the Gambinos or the Gallos was directed at that building.  The Feds closed that one down.  And wait for it; we had prostitution there, too!  The house that the chicken bolted from we refer to as Sandford and Son.  A  seriously collects junk when he is not “away”.  Also, think from time to time, “junk” is sold from there.  Uh, cars pulling up with engines running and people running in and out?  And the SWAT team was literally there about three years ago.  Police frequent the house (more on that later).  Sometimes, on a weekend we have copter hovering over and doing a sweep.  No, it wasn’t like this when we moved in and who would want to buy this?

Back to the chicken who has crossed the road and is now in our yard.  Now besides the organized and unorganized crime, we also have woods behind us.  So, we have  a fox, opossums, feral cats,  huge raccoons and dogs.  T says “Do you think it belongs across the road?”  It crosses the road and is pecking at the fence.   “yes, why not?”

“Do you think I should go over and tell A?”

Me:  “Yes, I do not want to wake to chicken guts on the front step.”  We feed the ferals and as a consequence birds, raccoons, Fox and possums.  “We do not need to provide gourmet treats for the ‘hood.”

T trundles over and is gone for awhile.

A admits chicken ownership and is stunned that chicken crossed the road.  He has more than one.  It’s a menagerie over there.  In addition to the pitbull that pinned me in the car one day, there is a cat that we feed.  We call him AC for A’s cat.  We discovered this one afternoon when T & A were talking and AC strolled up and ate the food we leave for him.  A says “Oh, my cat never eats dry food at home!”  Uh, why should he, when he eats with us?  There is a macaw and a little dog, too.

So chicken custody determined, the guys begin to chat.  A discloses he’s on probation for DV.  Coincidence!  T just finished.  I did say more on the police later.  If you have been reading me for awhile you may believe that T is a devoted and caring spouse.  He is when he is not drinking.  He’s an alcoholic.  He is not allowed to drink in front of me.  Easier said than done, no?  So, he has been arrested here about 16 times, no joke.  This means police have been here at least 20!  It’s a small block, hidden away.  No one really knows how to get here except for the precinct.  In fact, one night they were over and asked, “Weren’t we here earlier today?”  No, they were across the street.  Fair disclaimer, T ended up in DV because they couldn’t get him on alcohol any other way.  An ADA even told me once, if we could get him in a car.  He has no license so that’s a non-starter.  The DV is the alcoholism.  It distorts people.  The cops who constantly arrested him realized that when sober, he is wonderful.  Over the years, they have liked the work he has done on the house.  “Wow, you redid the floor!”  We have an almost cordial relationship with them.  And we have been to court so often that we are personally greeted, and people look to me for advice.  Luckily, that is all over.

T was on probation for three years and concluded it successfully.  So, he is in a position to advise A and was giving him helpful hints and tips.  We believe it will be the same PO that T had. The first time she came over the house was just after dinner with the kids.  In fact, when there was a knock on the door, we thought one of them had forgotten something.  I had made stuffed pork chops and used rice wine in the stuffing and had sprinkled it because it was dry.  They breathed him and said he was positive.  We later learned that the amount would not have been recognized if he had been driving.  We didn’t know and were terrorized.  They told me that me or the kids would not know if he had been drinking.  So, not right.  We always know.  We have lived with it. And as I said at the time did they really think that having had him arrested so many times I would tolerate it and not call? I was told I could no longer use cooking wine and they made me dump my almost full bottle out.  Then they trashed my house searching for drugs and alcohol.  When they went through my mother’s antique petit-point purse, I lost it.    We have a tortoise shell cat that we took in from outside.  Of course, the cats are freaking out with these strange, hostile people in the house.  Miss Mollie runs out to hide someplace else.  Officer N shouts, “Is that a raccoon?”

Their home visits were fine after that except for the time they came after 10 p.m. when I was getting up at 4 a.m.  They have come over when we have been drinking coffee on a Saturday afternoon or making Easter chocolates!  And we  had no luck coaching Miss Mollie on how to be a raccoon.

Let’s be clear.   I never considered myself a victim, ever.  I called precinct so that I would not be.  Everyone wanted to fit me into a mold just like they do with this disease/condition.  When I work,  I make very good money so I am not dependent on a man.  The house is mine so I can’t be thrown out of it.  I was always being offered help to get a job and find housing.  Where I did feel like a victim was in the hands of probation.  Even though T doesn’t drive or work, he had to be at places that are very difficult to get to without a car.  There were also huge fees that in essence I was hostage to pay.  I was always told I didn’t have to and he would be jailed.  Does this make sense?  I was told I could give him the cash (they only accept cash) and transportation cash.  Uh, especially in the beginning, money was a trigger!  The situation is designed for people to fail and generate revenue for the county.  We had to discontinue our marriage counseling as we were told it was not allowed.  The program he was in was ridiculous and meaningless, no curriculum.  He was told if it was up to them he would not be allowed to live with me.  The people in his “class” terrified both of us.  There was the guy who had thrown his girlfriend out of the car when it was moving and one who said when accused of choking his girlfriend ” But I stopped when she turned blue!”  T successfully concluded the program.

I refuse to be considered a victim with my condition either. I will not conform to people’s expectations.  The child is father of the man.  My mother used to tell me that I conformed to non-conformity.  It’s turned out to be a good thing.  I don’t buy into the whole incurable thing.  As I have said before, I am not going to tout the advantages and delights of motorized scooters.  I hate the spectral leg.  I hate orthopedic looking shoes.  I use funky walking sticks.  And no, I am not going to apply for disability.  I do not walk well.  I am not disabled.  I am able just not as able in certain areas.  By the way when I am working I literally walk or stumble more than the average American! Yes, 8 – 12,000 steps a day.

So, husband is  giving A advice.  This is going to be interesting as I believe she is not as strong as I am and there is a language barrier as well.  And we believe  it will be the same P.O.s that used to come to us.  We would love to be a fly on the wall as they experience the menagerie, chickens included.

Why did the chicken cross the road?  Goes to show that we are more connected than we think.  And the chicken keeps on crossing the road.

 

Auld Lang Syne

New Year’s Eve of course has been a topic of conversation for the last week or so. It’s been discussed with the kids, online friends and my friends.  I always say that I don’t like it and I can count the number of times I’ve been out on both my hands.  I preferred being home, either with my loved ones or by myself.

So a walk down the New Year’s of my past.

The first time I went out I was a teenager.  I am thinking about 16-17.  It was a group of girls – Debbie L, Susan W, Judy G and me.  We had become friends through political action.   It wasn’t a sleepover, someone’s parents must have picked us up.  All I remember was almost from the beginning, I wanted to be home.  I had been looking forward to it, first New Year’s out and all that.

Next time was in Jamaica.  My mother and I went down to see my Grandmother.  I already knew I didn’t like going out.  My favorite cousin asked me to come out with him and his wife.  I said no.  Grandma said yes.  I thought it might have been the last New Year’s I would ever spend with her and it was.  She died in December the following year.  She insisted.  So at the last minute I said yes and put my gown on.  Cousin rustled up a “date” for me with the name of Elvis.  Elvis was the same age as my baby brother. It was a fabulous party in Kingston.  There was a private tennis court, in ground pool.  I was MISERABLE.  I put such a damper on things that we left almost immediately after midnight.

Glutton for punishment.  The next year I went out with my two friends. See my previous blog “Politics, Friendship and Mortality”.  That so did not work out.

Skip to almost a decade later.  I was seeing someone, an alcoholic in recovery, my specialty.  He asked if I wanted to go to a party.  I told him I didn’t want to go to anyplace crowded mostly with people I didn’t know and noisy.  It was a Black and White themed party but he told me it wasn’t formal.  You know me and my clothes. I had the gowns. In fact, when I was married the first time, my mother-in-law didn’t understand why I didn’t want a wedding gown.  I was gowned out.  We arrive at the party.  It is formal.  We are the only two people not dressed formally.  It is packed with people I don’t know, noisy and crowded and he doesn’t kiss me at midnight.  I miss my family desperately.

Ah, another one.  I broke up with above.  Very messy and a story for another day.  My family always hated him.  My brother announced that I couldn’t be alone and scooped me up for a party at his former girlfriend’s house.  We are that kind of people.  Miserable again and all I can remember was that the little children had dirty feet.  I made my brother take me home before midnight.

Fast forward almost a decade.  I was mad at the man (we always got back together) I had been to the previous party with and thrown him out the house on Dec. 29.  He had turned on Howard Stern on my radio.  What can I say?  I went out that night by myself and met someone.  We went to brunch the next day and New Year’s Eve he asked me out to dinner.  We went with another couple and it was bearable and I was home well before midnight.  Everyone said I must like him since I went out on New Year’s  I guess.  I married him disastrously.

Two years after that we went to Watch Night service at the church.  I liked it. He hated it. There were less than 5 people there.  One of whom was 90!  Praying the New Year in made sense to me.

The marriage was done by the following year and I spent the next years either home with my parents, or alone or had dinner out with the man I lived with for awhile.  Even then, I hated being away from my family.

Just about a decade passes and I am dating Buster the Biker.  He has disappeared for most of the week after Christmas but we have plans to go to the bar we drink at.  My brother is there.  I don’t hate it but am not really happy.  I wanted my parents. Continue reading

Politics, Friendship, and Mortality

I just found out a few hours ago that one of my childhood friends passed away in his sleep last night.  Losing anyone so young is hard.  Well young is relative but I still feel relatively young and as my former sister-in-law said earlier this year “anyone dying before 80 is young.”

So, my mother worked with his father and we grew up on the same street.  His dad drank heavily and so did he but that’s what we did then.  He transferred in high school to an exclusive Catholic high.  I went to college with 6 boys from that school.  They told me that his drinking so disgusted them that they themselves threw him off the bus.  We used to drink at the same bar in our late teens and early twenties.

A memory – the New Year’s Eve  I was 21, I ended up at a party at his house with my two best friends.  The other Tress(same name) and I had dates.  Let’s put it this way, she was going out with Donnie and when I was around we used to double with his best friend who was called Hoppy, seriously.  He was far from hoppy but around 6 foot something and a solid 200 pounds plus.  He was a time filler for me.  Our other friend was just along for the ride.  Our original plan was to have a sleepover at my parents and then the guys came up with this party plan.  Somehow towards the end of the evening we ended up at J’s house.  His parents were there and some others too.  Not mine; not only did they no longer go out on New Years anymore but my mother didn’t like his father – read heavy drinker.  And it must have been very heavy as the first time I was drunk in public  was at her boss’s home(same company)  when I was around 16.  Different era, different mores.  Anyway,  Hoppy takes me over to his parents “Ma, Dad, this is the girl I have been telling you about.”  Big shock to me.  I don’t, didn’t do relationships, especially at that age.  So I am doing the drunken nice girl chat with parents and when I get away, M,  my other friend is in Hoppy’s lap, cooing to him “I want it and want it now.”  Different era, stumbled out of the house and walked the two long blocks home including one block that was a ballfield.  And it was a four lane road opposite parkway woods and a parkway.  A drunk 20-something couldn’t do that now.  Went into the house and my parents called out and asked where everyone else was.  The other Tress is with Donnie at J’s house and M?  M is f*cking her brains out with Hoppy”  Now you have to understand that was a big evil word then and I am known for not using “bad” words.  Upshot?  Parents yell at me for the profanity and M  comes in much later.  The other Tress never spoke to her again.  I am more forgiving but have to admit that I saw her in the subway 20 years ago or so and she was completely grey! Revenge is a dish best served cold.

At that point in time,  J was getting his life back together.  We used to hang in the same bar and have drinks. He was working at the local grocery store stocking frozen food.  He was going back to school.  He was very, very smart.  We had always been in the advanced class.  Then he said he made a girl pregnant that he didn’t even really like (it may have been the alcohol talking) and that was it.

Fast forward years and the advent of FB.  He was mad crazy about his grandson and was a successful guy.  Our high school always has a picnic and three years ago, I went.  Topic for another day.  There’s a candid shot of the two of us jabbering away.

 

But and there is always a but, he was far right and I am far left.  I grew up in Levittown and far right is the way most people lean but back in the day things didn’t seem as absolute.  I always knew that my views were not held by most.  J and I had a teacher in 7th grade who on reflection probably was in the John Birch society.  I vaguely reflect an argument over my not saying the Pledge of Allegiance with J.  Still, see above, we drank together.  However, I just couldn’t take it on FB.  As we and society have aged, we have become more polarized.  I hate hate speech.  Uh, yeah Levittown – 99.6 or 99.7 white when I was growing up.  I was at a high school dinner in Levittown a few summers ago and they were talking about how Nixon was right with Watergate not ‘Nam but Watergate.  Put Obama into the picture and just imagine.  I have only unfriended one person on FB and it was another elementary school onwards person with racist hate.  So, I hid J.  I only saw innocuous likes.

I knew he had moved back onto the Island from a neighboring state.  Today,  I see that he was right here in my town.  He was truly a part of my growing up.  Because I hid him, I didn’t know.  We could have and should have been able to move beyond politics to that common childhood.

When did we as a society become so divisive?  I recently read that people are deciding where to move based on the overall political makeup of an area.  What happened to us?  Where is the veneer of tolerance?  Fake it till ya make it works sometimes.  We are cutting off discourse and therefore growth.  I am guilty.  I am thinking of what I missed the last few years by cutting J off.  It makes this loss huger.

We don’t know what Fate holds for us, why waste time.

I mourn for J and for missteps.

Carpe Diem.  RIP J and I’ll be lifting a glass to Auld Lang Syne.