Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remember the Roller Coaster?

When I was a little girl, oh, about 7, 9 years old, my parents were both 'practicing' alcoholics. Many evenings would end with a frying pan flying through the air. From my mom's hand to my dad's head. Then, for some reason, Daddy would grab me, take me out to the car and drive down to the Boardwalk. We'd go to the roller coaster and ride it over and over and over again. When the Boardwalk closed up for the night, we'd go home and all would be quiet until the very next time.

I know Daddy suffered years and years of PTSD, depression, various physical ailments all as a result of his years as a POW, captured on Wake Island, early in WWII. Years of fear and loathing, afraid to be alone working through it, years of hard work and many successes. Can you imagine? As a POW, after his group had completed loading train cars full of lumber, they ran out of lumber. So their captors then forced these POWs to dig holes in the ground and throw the dirt up onto the train. Then they had to push the train several hundred yards and unload the dirt. To build a dirt mountain. 300 feet high. To keep 'em busy. And that's just one short story of his years in Chinese and Japanese camps.

Now he's 93 years old, has outlived most of his peers, his POW buddies, his friends, including my mom and his brothers. He's fairly healthy, doesn't really want to complain much about his body full of aches and pains. His mind is certainly deteriorating. He's alienated the few friends he had close to home because of his paranoid dementia and false accusations. Even though his peers and friends know it's a confused mind, they can't forgive him.

So he's more or less alone in his town of 45 years. Too confused to live alone there any longer. A few years of angst has brought us to this point, and now he's moving here to be close to family who will look in on him every day, grandkids and great grandkids who will get to spend some time with Grandpa Russ.

It feels like we're on the roller coaster all over again. Crawling up the hill, Daddy's argumentative and resistant, (fearful, I'm sure) then we coast down and around the corner and he's excited to move, looking forward and shedding tears of joy to be with his family. My gut is screaming about doing all this, how to do it, when to do it, how to do it.

We've got his apartment, beautiful place with lots of amenities, across the street and near the Napa River. He can walk down the street and throw a line in. Independent Senior Living. Meals, special events, happy hour every night, new friends, transportation, cable TV all included. He WILL enjoy it, once he settles in. I can't wait.

But right now, my life is not my own and I don't like it. It's my control thing. And his. Two steps forward, one step back.

I really do feel as if I'm back on that train again, taking a deep breath, speeding around that corner, hands reaching up to the sky, mouth wide open, screaming and screeching to a hard stop.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flashing Red Light

Jimmy woke with a start, breathing heavily, holding back the tears. Oh my gosh, it was a dream.

He lay there propped on one elbow, sighing at the blue sky, the light fog over the distant hills, the trees tapping at the window.

"Thank goodness, it's a new day, I'll call her today, see if she's still alive."

It was a month since 'the elusive one' told Jimmy why she believes she's dying. It'd been a while since they'd last seen each other. To Jimmy, each time was a little treasure.

"I'm not happy any more. I'm NOT going to change how I live, and I HATE doctors! I can hardly get around and one of these days, I'm going to not be able to catch my breath that one last time."

She spoke about all the negative stuff involved in staying alive, and as they talked, she started talking more positively, just a tiny bit, as if all the weariness finally found a place to steam off, a heart open to her vent. She never did have many friends, two of the three loves in her life died long ago. Family was gone.

Jimmy thought over this all morning long, as he did almost every day. He finished some work he had at home, took a shower, had a smoke, a deep breath, and a good strong drink. Slowly, slowly, he finally dialed that number.

"Oh, good you're still alive. It's the one of your third loves you haven't outlived yet." He told her his experience a few hours earlier. "I was taking a shower, listening to some tunes, feeling good, and all of a sudden - - I felt this terrible pin-prick in my finger - I thought maybe you'd just died."

"Oh, no," she laughed, "I have a few good months, maybe a few good years left. 'just taking it easy, that's all, trying not to wear myself out."

They talked, paused, listened, a little give, a little take, one foot forward, two steps back.

"Can I come visit one day?"
"Well, you know I don't like company. And I guess if I say no, I'll hurt your feelings."
"No, you won't, I know you, I know how you live, it's okay if you don't want company."
"Well, I guess a short visit sometime would be okay."
"Short visit's good, a little talk, some time to see each other. How about one of these next Fridays, in a couple weeks?"
"Oh, oh, well, now you're making plans. I suppose if it's going to be any day, Friday's good. Happy Hour for me - Monday, Wednesday, Friday, my Happy Hour, anytime after 3 o'clock. Red wine time. The only time I'm happy."
"Okay, if I'm coming up, I'll give you a call and let you know."

And that was it. A simple short phone call. Jimmy hung up the phone, smiled, breathed out a heavy long sigh, feeling good for the first time since waking up. He got on his bike, rode that seven miles to the gym and back, had a nice long swim, dinner with the boys.

It was a good day. One more day of life. And another night of biting his lip and holding back the tears.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

At the end of my day, a little link caught my eye as I quickly scanned those pesky little emails. I calmly sat back, in awe as I viewed this short film. An amazing post courtesy of a fellow couch-surfer. It caught me and wouldn't let go. Here it is. Come back when you're done.
Watch this...
When I finished that sweet movie, a creepy thought skittered through my mind. I was disturbed that it came up at all, because I really enjoyed that beautiful true-in-life vignette and was feeling the warmth of it all. Was my wandering mind the result of the nasty politics playing out around the world? I don't know.

But I couldn't help but think of all the many wars waged, so many 'killings' so many, many reasons, seasons after seasons, sunrise, sunset, battlefields ablaze. Before the Quiet.

And then, sometimes, not all the time, sometimes, the one left standing, 'the victor' turns around to support and bring up those they just tore down.

Why must we create havoc in the first place? Is it truly all about survival?

It's insanity at its best. We fuss and fight about who's best, who's strongest, who has the most money and who dies with the most toys.

Is it really worth it? Can't we just stumble upon something, someone, somewhere, love them, help them? Be happy in it? Let's do THAT.

Or was that what the video is all about, after all??