Showing posts from 2012

A Requiem Of Sorts

Hauling the boxes of her history out to the garage, I pause long enough to drop the heavy load on the concrete floor.I listened to the resounding “whump” and then headed back in for the next load.Every little nook and cranny of her life is now exposed in a trail of artifacts that produce an illustrated map of the entire history of her mind.Piles of used postage stamps stuffed into the drawers of a hundred-year-old sewing machine along with notes and letters, piles of sewing fabric, photos of family, all nestle in one box like so many days of so many calendars all randomly jumbled into one box of life.To me it’s a confused refection of a once orderly plan.
Its difficult for my wife as it’s her history that is being parted out as well.Something as simple as a dishtowel now has the power to evoke tears; a yellowed and once precious Kodachrome slide that somehow escaped the photo box now lies on the basement floor with its reversed image carrying neither meaning nor value.It’s as lonely on…


Three times now I’ve developed coping mechanisms to deal with all this, and three times I’ve allowed myself to be swallowed up in them.The first one could have easily cost me my marriage, the second one; all self-respect.The third one nearly cost me my job and with it my mind.
What starts out as a justifiable way to deal with things that can’t be made sense of, quickly turns into a world view that commands your reason and twists your perspective.In each instance, I find myself in places and situations that in a moment of lucidity are shocking even to myself.“How did it come to this”? I ask myself.Each time I wander the Good Shepherd gently nudges me back into the fold.Other times He lets me run into the fence, still other times, He waits till the wolves have their teeth in my flesh before he picks me up, saving me from certain destruction.I guess it’s true; He wants us to live life abundantly, why else would I be, in each instance of failure – restored to a level that I could never hav…

"Normal People Don't Kiss Frozen Tater-Tots"

“Normal people don’t kiss frozen tater-tots,” I said to her in an even, matter-of-fact tone.Her only response was to purse her lips, bend over and kiss the tray of evenly spaced potatoes yet again.
This sort of delightfully rational moment is always balanced by some sort of irrationally bizarre moment that proves to be equally extreme.I thought of the concern I held for the impression of mental stability that kissing frozen potatoes offered as I attempted to tip her stiff, 135-pound frame and horizontally insert her into the cab of the truck.The text message from our helper was simple enough; “B had a seizure and can’t walk the rest of the way home – she’s too heavy for me to carry, help!”I got in my truck and headed down the street looking for them.When I found them, they’d been standing there for at least 10 minutes looking for all the world like two lawn statues embraced as one in a hug, affixed to the middle of the sidewalk.
I parked the truck in a nearby driveway and walked over to…

The "Off" Side of the Lightswitch

Watching the condensation slip down the side of the martini glass was enough to make me laugh.Either I’d been staring too long it or had finally managed to clear enough of the vodka out of the fluted glass that I could find something as simple as sweat humorous.“It must be latter rather than the former” I said out loud to myself in an empty room.The tell was that I found the glass to not only be humorous but to be slightly erotic in shape as well.Clearly, the vodka had hit the mark.
The helpers had decided to take Bethany out for a ride now that her tantrum was over.“Roll her while she’s happy”, is the motto around here.Just minutes before she was a furious and confusing mass of anger.Now she was laughing and carrying on in a delightful manner.Delightful if you’re a prizefighter anyway.They found her socks and shoes, stuffed them on her rather square, stubby feet and headed out the door.
I sat in the silence for a moment, soaking up the freedom that I find by something as simple as her …

Coffee With A Friend

“The problem”, He said as he leaned over the table and looked deep into my eyes, “is that you let your reasoning and your own ideas keep getting in the way of my plans”.This was a bit of a shock to me as I fancied myself a pretty fair and reasonable man. “Don’t spoil my plans by wanting to impose your ideas”.With that, He leaned back in his seat and waited form me to respond.
For a while, I sat there and listened to the chatter of the coffee shop; smelled the deep aromas of cold coffee and burned toast.I let myself turn his words over in my head and wondered if I’d end up smelling like burned crow as well as the burned toast that was at this very moment permeating my clothing.I looked at Him and started to say something in my defense but I realized He was not only way ahead of me in the discussion, He was way right.
His stare remained fixed and without a movement of his body he continued with one last indictment; “I need my hands free to act David, don’t tie them with your worthless worr…

I Swim to Forget, She Swims to Remember

While swimming laps today, I could hear her murmuring from the other pool.I have no idea who she is and I can’t understand a word she says; one thing for sure, she certainly says them.I’d seen her many times before and I secretly admired her confidence.
She carefully walked down the stairs into the adjoining therapy pool as I sat there adjusting my goggles and futzing around with my earplugs; this the first time I’d seen her on land, was a sight to behold.She was in fact quite tall and had a girth about her that reminded me of the old syrup bottles of Aunt Jemima; a woman with a presence and confidence that said more visually than she’d ever have to say verbally.She was wearing a full-length swimsuit that vaguely reminded me of the survival suits that that are commonly used on commercial fishing vessels; vibrant orange from neck to toe.Over that suit she was festooned with noodle-like flotation antennae.A bristling band around her waist and a complementing set around each arm let you k…

An Apprentice and His Master

“A box, inside of a box which is inside yet another box”, he explained to me with a dispassionate stare.He made no broad gestures with his arms, no sweeping movement of his head, not even a raised eyebrow came with his discussion.He wasn’t about to whip himself into a Pentecostal fury nor was he going to deliver his case with the conviction of a Southern Baptist preacher.He simply stated the undeniable truth about his organization’s place within the overall structure.He was both powerless and unwilling to change “the natural order of things”, and while he knew he was important he also knew he not essential.
These last few months have had me thinking about his cold commentary, his “box-in-a box” metaphor and his admission of importance minus the component of essentiality.Sherry and I have no doubt of our importance in Bethany’s life nor do we question the importance of hers in ours.What we wonder about is the “essential” part of the equation; Her life seems to far outpace ours in essent…

The Suffocating Weight of a Starry Night

Stepping out onto the side porch, I can’t help but notice the billions of clearly defined stars in the midnight sky; so rich and vast they are that the visual weight of it nearly suffocates me.The clouds cleared out and it looks like it may frost after all, this causes my heart to sink a little as I didn’t take time to cover the flowers.An early season frost will clip my hopes of a beautiful fall array and while I’ll miss that glorious requiem, I find that deep in my heart, I little care.I have no time to feel sorry for flowers; I’ve bigger things at hand and all those stars served to do was to remind me of how little in control I really am. Perhaps that’s what really was suffocating me.
It wasn’t until I noticed the breath vapor beginning to fog my view that I decided not to walk out into the yard for a broader view; between the cold of the night and the sudden realization that I’m in only my underwear - I simply dump the diapers into the pail and head back indoors.I no longer care ab…

Stranger than Chicken Salad

He smiled and looked around the room, clearly he wasn't one of the locals.He was related to no one, had only seen one of us before today, had no roots in this area and yet he was one of us just like the rest of us.
He started his story with a laugh and a tear.The tear came before the laugh I’m sure, but I didn’t know that till after he’d spoken.He was at the age where you typically give more advice on living than you get yet somehow his life had to go through a dark night before that privilege was truly his.In those later years of his life, he explained, there was a failed marriage still to come.There was confusion and estrangement still to come.
When they came he dealt with them like any of us might.The pain and depression of all this collapse gets coped with though anti-depressants, rightfully administered.Then more, still rightfully administered, then the ones from friends that were thoughtfully administered.Later still came the personally administered combination of those drugs …

Why Don't You Listen to Me!

Why don’t you listen to me!I have such a small vocabulary; the least you could do is listen closely!I don’t know your words, and you pour them out so fast that they sound like running water in my brain.They carry no meaning, they offer me little hope and they don’t help me get what I need.All I want is my backpack.
I’ve said it so many times, but can’t count and I don’t understand time, but I do know that I can’t sleep unless I’m complete and you’re not listening; all I want is my backpack!I said it going up the stairs, I said it over the bedroom door, I yelled it but you got mad and then you got angry with me.I don’t know why I thought it was funny, but it was; and it was sad because in your anger, you refused to listen to me; all I want is my backpack.
I changed my clothes because that’s what 16-year-old girls do.I do it because it’s the only choice I have in this life of mine.You seem to question me on everything and I can’t even understand what you’ve asked before you’re on to the n…

Obsessive Compulsion and the Notion of Sleep

It starts with a nearly inaudible whimper that sounds faintly like “nu-nih”.“Are you ready for night-night B?” I ask her.She may repeat the plea “nu-nih” or she may just burst out in laughter and go back to tapping the plastic toy against her upper lip.  Sometimes she just stands there with a blank stare and an emotionless expression on her face, and other times she simply makes a high pitched squeal which forces you to ask the question again; "are you ready for night-night"?
Here begins the nightly dance that could take 10 minutes but more likely will take the entirety of the evening, even into the early morning hours.We get her ready for the night; upgrade her brief to include multiple layers of absorbency; prepare the proper layers that comfort her obsessive-compulsive tendencies, brush her teeth and pray things go smoothly.
In preparation for bedtime, she layers herself like the flaky crust of a baklava starting with a camisole.Not just any camisole, one that smells just r…