A Valuable Lesson

Every evening I call Al at the Hospice House, and every time I hang up I am sad. You ask me why? Because the nurses say he is doing fine.

Tonight I called again and when I heard those same words I blurted out, ” If he is fine there then why isn’t he here? When he is here he cries a lot. He is so sad. Why isn’t he like that there?”

The nurse probably thought I was on crack, asking something like that. It probably sounded like I wanted him to be crying, but of course I don’t.Women_cocaine

After I thought about it a quick second, I explained, ” Oh I don’t want him to cry. I am just trying to figure out why he is happy there and not here.”

She started laughing and I could sense  her relief that I was not the wicked witch of the west.Wicked_witch

She broke it down a little for me and said, ” He does cry here also, but not continuous. He speaks of death here and he says he is afraid to die. I told him that I was afraid to die too, but we all have to do it. Mr. Al, you have to think about the positive and get a way from the negative. Yes, he cries here, plus here he has different aids here at all times. It keeps his mind busy. Also, he doesn’t get out of bed unless he wants to or ask, and he doesn’t ask.”

I listened with intent trying to pick up on anything that may help me here at home with Al, but I wasn’t getting anything to really grab a hold of then she made the comment that put the puzzle pieces together.puzzle-pieces

She asked me one question, do you have kids?

Why yes I have kids, they are all grown up.

She went on with her explanation.” Do you remember when they went a way or they went to Grandma’s house for a week? Remember when you went back to get them and Grandma always said they were angels? Well this is Angel_Wings__Animated__by_Iaenichow Al is too.”

I thought back to my kids when they were little. They would be the best darn kids ever and then suddenly with no warning they were causing me headaches and stressing me out to the max. I couldn’t wait until they went to Grandma’s.

I laughed out loud at my own thoughts and she continued on. ” This is how Al is. He is here. We are strangers, new people to see and get to know. He hasn’t learned how to  press our buttons. Yes, even very ill patients can learn how to press the caregiver’s buttons. He is comfortable with you, where as here, he is still on guard of his actions. This is all there is too it. He is better here just like your kids were when they went to other homes.”

It all made sense. I didn’t want to hang up this time and weep because I wasn’t doing something good enough, or worse yet, discover he liked it elsewhere better than home. The fact is he loves me enough to let all his feelings show here at home. I should feel honored I guess but somehow seeing the sad, depressed side doesn’t thrill me. But, it does make me feel better to know that our life here at home is normal and he loves me enough to let his hair hang down and be free to be himself.hair hang down

Chapter 14

As Dad got worse, Al became farther back in the picture. I liked it better when he was fore most in my mind because he needed looking after. But B. felt that Dad was just a big burden and demanded more and more of my time.

One of the last visits Dad payed…

View Post

Chapter 14

As Dad got worse, Al became farther back in the picture. I liked it better when he was fore most in my mind because he needed looking after. But B. felt that Dad was just a big burden and demanded more and more of my time.

One of the last visits Dad payed to his own home, it was in October. He had the urge to sit on his tractor one more time. B. came along and I met Dad out at the house, Al was home also.

Dad made me go get Al as he wanted to talk to him. It ended up not being talking, it was screeching about how things were not done the way Dad wanted them done. Our half-sister happened to stop by and my Grandma still lived on the property.

We were all getting things arranged in Grandma’s house as she was planning on  moving permanently to Florida to live with her daughter. It was still pretty warm outside and the woods were in full color.

I didn’t know how we were going to get the tractor out of the barn. Dad had tried to climb on top of it but he was too weak. Just then my son pulled in the drive way and I asked him to bring the tractor out.

While my son was doing this B. was in the background bitching at Al because of this or that. I told her, “Stop it right now. You have no right to be speaking to him this way.Leave him alone and remember this is not your son nor your home.”

She gave me a dirty look and then proceeded to start in on our half-sister. It escalated very quickly and soon there was an arguing match in full force. I am so thankful my parents lived in the country. If we were in town the cops would definitely have been called.

Yelling and accusing was going on so long. When I glanced at Dad to see how he was dealing with this he was sitting in a summer chair and his body was trembling. He was so weak and also too afraid to interfere with this fighting.

I probably didn’t handle it the right way, but I told Al to go ahead and go back in the house where he would be safe. Al didn’t hesitate, he left right a way. I walked up between the sister and B. and stuck my hands out in between them. I probably looked like a traffic cop. I told them,” You are destroying Dad. Look at him trembling. You two should be ashamed of yourselves. If you want to argue and bitch, go somewhere else and do it in private. I want this shit stopped now. I will not sit here and watch you all destroy yourselves.”

Voices hushed and the air became quiet. B. was beginning to mumble under her breath and I gave her the look. She changed her train of thought and went to Dad and told him she couldn’t help herself. She just wanted to protect him. In my opinion she could just shove it and go to hell.

After the boxing ring became quiet, Dad went back to the issue of wanting to get on the tractor. My son and I tried and tried to hoist him up but to no avail. Finally I saw a five-gallon container. I went and grabbed it and placed it as a stepping stone for him.

He was able to get on and he sat there smiling. He tried to start the tractor but his legs were too weak to  clamp down on any pedals. Getting him off was even harder. My son and I balanced him and sort of pulled him off.

There was no  more arguing that day. B. had said what she wanted. Our half-sister was done defending herself and inside Grandma’s house. My son left, so all that was left outside was B., me and Dad.

I grabbed Dad’s mail and we all went back to the girlfriend’s home where I helped Dad inside. The day before when I had visited Dad I had brought  over a   toilet commode. He could barely get down on the seat to sit or stand to be wiped.

I had the leverage to grab him this and a walker. When we got inside her house and I had Dad seated and comfortable in his recliner, she called me into her kitchen. When I went to see what she wanted she had the commode in her hands. She made me watch as she tossed it out the back door. She commented or hissed, “No one is going to pretend they are sick in my house. There will be nothing here that represents sick.”

I watched her with intent as she tossed that and the walker outside. I went outdoors and grabbed the walker and brought it back inside. With Dad within hearing distance I played out a short clip of a silent movie.

I raised the walker and pretended I was going to slam her with it. She covered her head with her hands and inside I was having the time of my life. On the outside I was firm-faced and I mouthed to her, “He needs this, dammit, now get your shit together.”

She left the walker alone but put it on the back  porch. I had to look at B. for the first time with sadness. Although I never met her husband who had passed I could imagine the memories of having another man you cared about dying in your home once again. That feeling of sadness didn’t really stay that long, as I knew that someone in her sixties should very well know better to take it out on another human being, no matter how bad it hurts emotionally.


My Brother’s Life Journey Chapter 3

A woman from Tajikistan with a baby stroller i...

A woman from Tajikistan with a baby stroller in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Al and I were lucky for a few years while our Grandparents lived in the big white house. We had cousins who lived very near. Parents would take us trick or treating. Al would never wear a mask. He would scream bloody murder. I never knew what he remembered in his mind but something had made him deathly afraid of so many things.

Mom would dress him up with old clothes from home and would leave his head and face untouched and we would go out and trick or treat. Al didn’t want to go up to the doors so I would always get a couple of extra pieces and put some in his sack too.

I can remember Al and I used to sit for what seemed hours staring at the silver tinsel Christmas Tree. It had one of those moving lights under it and the tree changed colors. All the ornaments would sparkle and I can see Al still smiling so much with those big blue eyes.

When school started we went to the same school. But by the end of Kindergarten Mom and Dad knew that the school we attended could not help Al. He was switched in first grade to a school about three blocks from my school. I walked to school and a special bus came and picked up Al.

He went to the Special Education classes all through elementary grades. These years seem blank to me. He and I were separated for the first time. Different teachers and different programs. I do remember Al going with Mom and Dad to my school activities and me doing the same at Al’s school.

One thing that comes back in my memory is the big fan. In Grandma’s house my Granddaddy hung a big motor fan over  the screen door. I used to love to sleep on the couch in the summers and I was lulled to sleep by the noise of the fan. I still use a fan today and so does Al.

One night although it was a school night Al and I got to stay all night at our Grandparents. We were woke up early in the morning while it was still dark. Granddaddy told me that we had a new baby sister.

I don’t remember being thrilled over this. By now I was ten years old and it had always been Al and me. Now we had a sister. I knew that everyone was excited but Al and me. Of course he didn’t understand what that meant that we had another sister. He already had one, me. I felt a little bad inside because I wasn’t sharing in the excitement.

Changes happened then with our family. We moved a way from the happy block. We moved a few miles a way. I wasn’t able to see my Grandparents near as much, which made me sad. Al played more and more on the floor being very quiet and lining up all his hot wheel cars.

I turned to my baby dolls and pretended I was the mommy. I didn’t realize it then but somehow now reading back what I am writing I see that something bad had happened and I needed to be told I love you. I in turn told my baby dolls I loved them. I fed them and changed their diapers and clothes. I pushed them in the baby stroller. I couldn’t fit Al in the baby stroller so I pulled him in the wagon and continued letting him to ride on the back of the big red trike.

An old lady  started  watching our new baby sister, and eventually we slipped into that group also. Al became more into himself and I started to change too. I would cause problems. I would eat so much junk and then blame it on others. I went so far that I raced in from the garage when we got home and I would open drawers and flip over chairs and then when Mom saw it, I stood back and snickered as she questioned the neighborhood Moms about where had there kids been while we were gone.

I must have been really messed up over the baby sister. It seemed that this is when I began to look at Al as my brother and Dad as my hero and the baby sister as the unwanted.

Al and I were never really involved with the new sister. Al started doing worse at school and he started stuttering. Mom used to have to go into the school that he went to for meetings. She always yelled at Al on how she worked full-time and he needed to straighten up so she didn’t have to be a way from home so much.

I doubt that Al and I knew what really was happening back then , but I do know that Al and I stuck together more and more. It was us against the others. Al didn’t only start his stuttering. He had started getting something called impetigo. It would start on his lip and sometimes it would grow all over his chin.

I can remember Mom picking at the scabs and me yelling at her in my 10-year-old voice to quit hurting him. He was crying and I would run into the bathroom to see why he was crying. She made him cry. She was always picking at his face. I am sure she thought she was helping to get those ugly scabs off. But what about his tears? Didn’t it matter that he was crying? Please leave him alone Mom. Don’t make him cry.