"Where the Hell are you?" asks my friend Anne.
Alive and well and back in Gales Ferry. It took me a while to process all the experiences of my Road Trip. The short version is that I realized that I am still capable of traveling on my own, slowly, but nevertheless happily. This was a great relief, because traveling is something I love to do. I also discovered that my aloneness (as opposed to loneliness) is not my "fault" -those who knew me from my journal welcomed me wonderfully, treating me like an old friend, or new family member. I appreciate their love (and indeed everyone who reads my journal's love) more than I can say. I realized my aloneness is a matter of life events, over which I have had little control. And I found that I am quite happy to be off by myself, exploring not only the world, but my own response to it.
Then I came home and recognized that this is my life. In some way I have been waiting to "get through" this surgery or that rehab for a new life to start. Wrong. My new life started August 7, 2003, (the day I fell at work), took a left turn when Rene moved out, and continues daily. It's not the life I would have chosen, but it is the life I have. I have been sad about this, but have not found myself standing motionless beside Hecate in the depths of the earth. I have simply kept getting up each day and continued moving, sad or not.
And, after some struggle, I decided to have an abdomialplasty yet another major surgery. The idea of yet another operation does not thrill me-I have had four biggies in the last five years, and face shoulder surgery-this time on the left-come summer. But I saw the surgeon, gathered the proof of necessity for insurance (which turned me down last time), and let it go over Christmas. I figured it would happen or not. And I was accepted this time. This will require a lot of organization, preparation and more courage than I really want to put out. I am, however, determined to do this surgery smarter and better, preparing better and asking for more help than in the past.
Then I spent 3 weeks at Christmas in Colorado with my parents, a bittersweet experience, for I realize I am mother's main emotional support. They have moved from their duplex into a very good, very expensive retirement community. Unfortunately, they are not really taking advantage of most of the wonderful opportunities the place offers. My father happily tootles off the Dining Room every evening, where he has the choice of five entrees. My mother orders hers in, where she happily dines alone. The main reason? She is so deaf, even with 2 hearing aides, that sitting at a table with strangers is torture. He doesn't understand her isolation, or particularly care.
My father, 85 next month, still claims he is in charge of their health-as he is because he has to drive her to each doctor's appointment. She hasn't driven since her brain and eye surgery in April, because the eye runs in bright light (and Colorado is full of relentless sunlight). I suspect she'll never drive again. My father should not be driving at all, plus he goes into all her appointments, gets impatient with translating for my mother (who can't hear what the doctor is actually saying) and announces that he'll tell her later-then forgets what the doctor had said, leaving her in the dark.
And her med. situation scares me to death. Halfway through the visit she gave me one small pill and asked me to go to the drugstore and renew the prescription. She wasn't sure what the pill was, what it was for, just that she took one every night. Or was it morning? Well, most days, because she thought it was a diuretic, and she didn't take it when she has a lot of diarrhea (a side effect of her cancer 4 years ago). And she didn't have the bottle because she empties all her pills into a box with small dividers with scribbled names. Her hand doesn't work well (she has overused it for 70 years, since her left arm was amputated) and pills jump from section to section, making her more confused.
Now I am not saying she is incompetent. She just needs someone patient to teach her how to take them correctly. The retirement community has a great medical center, complete with geriatric specialists, many programs, and nurses who could help her, but she thinks she doesn't need them. Luckily her back Dr. has prescribed physical therapy, which she will do there. I hope that will at least get her in through the door. Alas, there is noting I can do to fix the situation. And when I talked to her last she was unhappy with me because I spoke disrespectfully of my father. I apologized, but the truth is I have little respect and less patience with him, though I recognize she made her choices years ago, and depends on him a lot. they have been married for near sixty years, most of then unhappily.
I understand the age and cultural gap between her life and mine, and I wonder what it is like to be married to someone-anyone-for 59 years. Especially someone I didn't really like much, but was used to. I recognize that after the two marriage I seriously and truthfully committed to failed, I have been left alone and struggling. Mom is much better off financially than I because she chose to stay married. And she has someone to visit her daily in the hospital when necessary, and to drive her to appointments, and run interference for her in life.
On balance, I think I'd rather live alone than with Geoff or Rene, though I am quite friendly with Geoff now, and still miss Rene's friendship. She made the choice to cut me out of her life completely, and I am still sad-and sometimes angry myself-about this kind of anger and unforgiving behavior that she has exhibited not only with me, but with others she once loved. Water under the bridge these days, I guess, though part of me will always love her.
How on earth did I get there? Ahh-living alone, and facing more surgery, verses my mother's choices in her life. Give me living alone. I have learned to run interference for myself-with doctors and workers' comp and surgeries and hospitalizations and all the more mundane aspects of running a life. I have chosen, and at time thrown into, this over staying in an unhappy marriage. This is right for me, I know, but not right for my mother. As a child I used to act as go-between, to try to protect her from my father. It didn't work then, either.
I am sure there is some archetypal god/goddess, father/mother/daughter story that covers this place I find myself with them, but I don't know what it is, or I'd be busily meditating away on it, like a cow chewing her cud. It's probably just as well I don't know such a story because I am going to need my energy to prepare to face surgery and recovery this month. I will be asking everyone's help later, to wrap me in a blanket of love before surgery, and to pass the word on to others who might understand. I'll explain all that soon-which is another way of promising not to disappear for months again soon!
Blessings to all, Margo