I know it’s nearly the end of January and a little late to be taking stock of 2015, but I’ve been busy. I work full-time, have a household to run, and my mother is in a nursing home dying from cancer. Other than coping, my accomplishments were few in 2015.
On the relatively positive side, I attended concerts filled with the classic rock and pop music of my youth: Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Madonna, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Beatles tribute bands, The Fab Faux and Rain, Chicago, The Indigo Girls, Led Zeppelin tribute band, Get the Led Out, and the actual, original Robert Plant.
Publications: Just one this year. Thank you to The Broken Plate for publishing my essay, “This Time I Fell in Love with the Daughter.” If not for that, I would have published nothing in 2015.
Blog: Sadly, in 2015, I have had only four blog posts all year. My writing production was nearly non-existent in any form: essay, blog post, personal email, not even much activity on Facebook.
No good deed goes unpunished: For two years I tried to help a man escape the horrors of his life on the other side of the world, but I realized at the end of 2015 there is no way to end my involvement but to cruelly walk away. This man keeps after me, with every drama and life threatening situation imaginable. He is not lying, this is his life. You know who you are, and if you read this, LEAVE ME ALONE. Stop calling, stop texting, stop emailing, because I will no longer send you money. I can no longer fund your life or your death.
You see, I have limitations to my generosity, and I can be a mean person, just as Steven said I was. As I get older, I don’t care about being less generous or being mean. As life starts to wreck you, you disengage from humanity, and your existence becomes about survival, emotional or physical or both. As I continue to watch my mother die, I feel more wrecked, and I try to survive.
Purchases: I purchased a little inexpensive computer in the hope that I would start writing again. I purchased a cheap television and many concert tickets because I need some way to escape the horrors of 2015, and I have yet to take up drinking. I have learned that purchasing such unnecessary items does as much to help the poverty of the world as sending thousands of dollars directly to someone in need. In other words, neither activity helps at all. I would suggest never funding someone directly. I have learned you can’t solve any problems by throwing money at them, you can’t save anybody’s life. The experience will only leave you feeling guilty and angry when you have to say no. So buy yourself a TV instead. It’s cheaper in the long run. Subscribe to Hulu. Watch the original Star Trek. Buy those Who tickets. Buy a car. Live your American dream. Find a reputable charity if you insist on throwing your money away.
Work: For the most part, work was fine. I am not a superstar at work, but hopefully, a steady player, a sixth man in basketball, a backup shortstop, a special teams player. I work with some brilliant people who are also my friends, so I am very lucky in that regard. My senior management is understanding and thoughtful, so I am grateful for that also. In my younger years, I would have needed to excel, to shine like a superstar. But now, in my fifties, I am happy to have a solid job that challenges my brain, provides a paycheck and benefits, and helps to allow me to live my life. That’s all that my poverty stricken man wants, to live his life, to have a job. What I take for granted, he will never have. He lives in a really shitty place that gives him no breaks, only obstacles, illness, deeply seated prejudice and pain on every physical and emotional level. I could have sent him every dollar in my bank account and still he would be on the edge of crisis, or even have fallen into the abyss never to return.
Health: I believe I am healthy, despite the fact that I am working out less and my pure cardio workouts have ceased. My once lithe body is starting to get bulgy around the middle. My size 8 pants are getting tight around my thighs. I could easily solve this issue by increasing the frequency of my workouts and eating less sugar. Or I could start buying size 10 jeans.
This year I had my third colonoscopy in 10 years as I tend to be symptomatic, but I’m fine. If my friend, Bill, had had such a procedure a few years ago, he might still be alive today. Even in this country, with all its privilege, death grabs you and you succumb. Please take note.
I had a cyst removed from my scalp. I tend to get such things, but so far, all has been benign.
Romance and Sex: None whatsoever in 2015. And I don’t miss either. I am becoming something less than human, I understand.
Life and Death.
A friend of mine died in February. She wasn’t my closest friend, but I had known her for most of my life. Our mothers have been best friends for nearly 50 years. Although Karen had many medical problems, I never expected her to die suddenly, as she did. I believe she died from a heart attack caused by a blood clot in her leg. Three weeks before her death, we attended a Fleetwood Mac concert in Providence. A week and a half before her death, she accompanied me to the dermatologist and waited while I had a cyst removed from my scalp.
“She’s a good friend,” the nurse said.
Yes, she was.
My mother is alive but dying. Today (January) she has slept the entire day, including the two and a half hours I’ve been sitting here. It could be the drugs or it could be the encroachment of death. It’s snowing outside her window. Winter is symbolic of death, isn’t it?
My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in the fall of 2013 and lived with me in my house until November 2015. She first fell in May. She fell in the morning while I was at work and lay on the floor, peeing all over the white throw rug, for the next 10 hours. When I returned home, I could barely lift her onto the couch. I called hospice and a nurse arrived. “Forget about the bathroom, that’s over with,” she said. But she was wrong. Eventually, my mom gained enough strength to continue living in my house and using the bathroom.
Six month later, after her third fall in five weeks this autumn, I couldn’t let her stay.
I had her rushed to the hospital by ambulance, against her will, after finding her fallen beside her bed, sitting in her pee, for 10 hours (again.) She was extremely dehydrated, I would come to find out, and she could not think straight, nor had she the strength to lift herself up and onto the bed. Nor had I the strength. I called an ambulance.
I had her admitted to a nursing home, five days after her hospital stay, again, against her will. She acquiesced because she had no choice. I refused to take her home.
I had my mother sign a Power of Attorney five days before she went bonkers again from dehydration. She signed the document voluntarily with a notary public as witness. I had access to her vast fortune which was just enough to pay for her funeral and two months in a nursing home.
I pre-paid my mother’s funeral and bought her a coffin for Chanukah, on December 7, which coincidentally was also the 10 year anniversary of my stepmother’s death.
I filled out a forty page application for Mass Health, which will start paying my mother’s nursing home expense, once her assets have been depleted. It’s early January and her assets have been depleted. I sent Mass Health another forty pages of supplemental information.
I don’t know how to end this post. My mother is still sleeping. They tell me she has been sleeping all day. I wonder how she will be tomorrow. I wonder how I will be. I wonder how 2016 will be.
Painful, powerful, you are human, not less than human. In many ways, because you are finally taking care of yourself too, you are more human. I’m sorry people die, people we love and sometimes unexpectedly, but I’m glad you’re still here to write about a shitty year, even infrequently. Be well kins, you are loved.
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Thank you, Suzanne. I am so glad we met and have stayed in touch. I appreciate your kindness, as always. You and Analia be safe in the storm. xoxo
I’m sorry, Cindy. I’m sorry that 2015 was so shitty, and 2016 has been no winner either. I’m sorry this nightmare never seems to end, even through the distractions… even through the attempts at normalcy. Winter is the garnish to it all. The sour cream and guacamole to the tacos from Hell. There’s no good way to deal. You just hang on and hope the crushing swells leave you whole in the end. I just got a $2000 tax bill for my Dad’s house, even though he passed in 2011, and his house was sold at auction due to foreclosure two years ago. All I can do… all that anybody can do, is say, ” Fuck this shit.” Surviving the moment, and waiting for the next wave, seems to be what were offered. I don’t know what Monday brings, but I hope it is kinder to you. I hope the swell leaves you whole for another day. Peace be with you and your Mom. I know it is hard to find.
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Thank you, Kris. As always, your comments are kind and caring. I’m glad we crossed paths. I know you understand all that I say. It means a lot. Fuck that tax bill. And I hope your medical conditions ease for you this year.
Cindy, my heart aches for your struggle to find some semblance of peace and calm. I have always known you to be a kind and caring woman and am so saddened by the accounting of your disappointment in your ability to change a man’s life, the loss of you dearest and longest friend and the impending death of your mom. All three of these events in one year is more than one can endure. Yet, you do and are, in your own special way, enduring.
Music is a gift; music has power. There are no barriers to music. It can fuel both heart and soul. I so admire your striving to be in the midst of such powerful performers. I hope you will get tickets to Billy Joel again. And most fervently, I hope you will soon pick up your pen and write, write. It makes a difference– to all of us who worry about you, think of your often, wish you well-being.
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What a beautiful comment, Faye, you lifted my spirit. I hope you will see Billy Joel this year. Xoxo.
Cindy, Words escape me. I love that you went to all of those concerts and that you had those moments to be the music and to let it soothe your pain. I think of you often and did notice that you haven’t been writing as much. I get that. Your writers friends get that. But you are back with this post. And I am glad. xo
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All I can say, Hannah, is I miss you and thank you. When this is over I would like to see you. xoxo