The Purpose of this Path
The Purpose of this Path
What a week it's been! Drama, drama everywhere and not a jester in sight! Wouldn't it be nice if the only dramas going around were humorous? The path I'm on is a rich one, with a lot of texture, a fair dose of challenges and some incredible, beautiful experiences, I know. But it's not all about my own path. Life seems to be about the convergence, even sharing sometimes, of all our paths: mine with yours, yours with mine, mine with his, his with mine...the configurations seem endless.
This morning I found myself feeling discouraged and a bit down. Jack has still not talked with me about the letter I wrote and sent to his inbox over a month ago--the one outlining a balanced plan needed in order for us to go forward together here. He's still drinking and smoking, isolating and fully entrenched in all the patterns and behavior of a die-hard, chronic alcoholic. When he's in this state of mind, the smartest thing I can do is disengage, yet that's so opposite my nature, and contrary to what my intentions are, so I spend that time that I'm not directly with him praying or in meditation or some other positive, productive activity. Like writing this blog, for example. It's good for me.
I love mornings, and would love to share joy and smiles, enthusiasm and happiness with the one I'm caregiver for because, well, happiness is always good, right? Who wouldn't want that? Yet, he grumbles, even snaps most of the time, if I even try to talk to him, and especially if my voice has any energy behind it. If I pipe out a "Good morning! How'd ya sleep last night?" he jumps and yells at me for "screaming at" him. Since I'm all about "hitting the ground running," and setting to tasks first thing in the morning, and he's quite the opposite, my "being" annoys him.
So, I avoid him, usually by getting up earlier than he does so I can take care of a few things in peace and know they're done before he starts moving through the house. This way I can just watch over him from a distance and stay ready to rush forward to intervene or help wherever help is needed. I better be quiet, though, while I co-exist with him. He "needs an hour or two of alone time and space," he says. It's usually about four hours at least and sometimes the bulk of the entire day.
If I ask him about anything, make any request for a modification to how he manages or handles something that effects both of us or the state of the household, or ask him about his food intake that morning or day, he sees all that as "bitching, complaining or nagging." I know I've presented the message politely, thoughtfully and without any "ordering around" at all. Yet if I say anything to him that conflicts with his determination to live the way he wants to, with a large dose of neglect, apathy and with no concern for how his actions might not only cause harm to himself but sometimes also effect me, he plummets to his low-spot and remains angry for hours. He stays angry for hours, if not the entire day, until he passes out sitting upright or hunched over the steering wheel in his truck in the driveway, or sitting in his "t.v. chair" in his room, or splayed on his bed. Constant drama.
More drama. We're still on watch and locking things up tight at night while one of the two murderers who escaped from the high security upstate New York jail is still at large. Yesterday, "Matt" was spotted, shot and killed. Maybe they'll find and catch "Sweat" today. I left a life in Hollywood, California seventeen years ago to get away from all the drama and simplify my life. See how well I did that? LOL! One cannot escape the lessons of one's life no matter how hard we might want to.
It's rainy and cool, and my 20-year-old cat is curled up sleeping beside me. Harvest is the equivalent of 103 people years or so. He sleeps a lot these days and has become a bit more demanding, but I don't mind. He's respectful about it, and very loving to me. Chantica (an alpaca) is fighting a neurological disease brought on by a parasite carried by the white tail dear, and I'm treating her daily. Hopefully, she'll pull through. I love tending to her, and she seems to appreciate my attention. What a Godsend my animal friends have always been.
Jack is sitting out in his truck in the driveway again, and he's backed it up to further away from the door and sort of tucked under the boughs of a tree where I can't see what he's doing so easily. The rain is pouring down, yet it's still worth it to him to weather that in order to get to his clubhouse and vices. Usually he's right outside the door and it's not difficult to periodically look in on him without his knowing of feeling he's being sort of "hovered over."
He may not understand this, but I need to know what he's up to and that he's okay. I get concerned that he might have had another stroke, which is bound to happen again given he's still got high blood pressure, still drinks and still smokes. He usually gives me an excuse of the hot sun when he's moved his truck to way back under that tree, but today, it's clearly a way to hide his drinking from me. He'd left the house earlier this morning without talking with me at all and went into Addison, "for toilet paper." What this actually means, though, is that he went right by the liquor store--and he's not capable of passing that location by without stopping and getting more vodka or whiskey. He finished a bottle yesterday, so his pattern is to remedy that situation first thing in the morning so he can drive with no alcohol in his system.
It doesn't matter, though, what he tries to tell me because (a) I know that at least 75% of what he says these days is not the truth, and (b) I can tell within thirty seconds or less when he's had any liquor... and even when it's "just beer."
The other day I was watching Jack slowly move through the house and kitchen again, thinking he was alone and that I wasn't seeing him. There's a large mirror on the far wall of the room I'm in most of each day, and it reflects the majority of the rest of the house. I witnessed his intense focus on not falling down, on staying up on his feet, on getting what he wanted, on remembering what it was he went to get from the refrigerator, and on not making any noise (so as not to let me know he was even in the house or moving about). He had another terrible, embarrassing bout with his bowels and loss of control the other day, enduring a terrible mess and he went through great pains to try to hide the event from me (no such possibility). I see him falter, lose his balance here and there, and hear his labored breathing, yes, from all the way across the house. He won't go to the doctor, but what's the doctor going to find or say that hasn't already been found and said?
Jack is moving through the final days of his life like an ant through a dollop of molasses. I wonder how much longer he's going to continue this slow, painful, pitiful killing of himself. I wonder why he doesn't want a better quality of life enough to accept the help that is out there for him. Instead, he rejects help daily. He acknowledges his disease, but chooses to feed it.
I feel such sadness for Jack's evident self-loathing, and when he complains to me about his languishing right arm and the associated frustrations, or his other physical ailments, I try to tell him all the good that is within him and that God has some sort of incredible, awesome plan and purpose for him. This seems obvious to me and others, considering his life was spared and prolonged no fewer than three times already. He doesn't seem to believe this and now rejects the notion of God altogether.
The thought comes in: Is Jack really here more for me? So that I can learn a deeper level of love, patience, persistence, strength, compassion, coping and care giving skills, forgiveness, and connection to the one Mind and Principle that is God? I'm thinking so....
When Jack and I talk about science and the recent discoveries and advancements he's reading about in a magazine he's subscribed to, or just heard on one of his favorite NPR shows, he gets excited and points out things he knew years ago and tried to tell people who didn't believe him or see it in that moment, and now it's been proven today. I remind him that he can still help others with his knowledge and his incredible skills as an educator, and he can write more books and papers. I've offered to help him with this if he wants. About a month or so ago he said he has had an idea for writing a regular column for the little local newspaper, on field biology bits of information that effect everyone's daily lives here in this rural farming community, so I continue to encourage him and support this idea.
For a moment, this seems to have him inspired. Unfortunately, within no time he's turned the compliment and inspiration into a feeling of pressure he doesn't want. He wants "no pressure to do anything," no "obligations," or thoughts of a sense of duty or responsibility to himself or others. He hasn't contacted the paper yet, or jotted down an article, either. I've offered him a way to talk and record his articles, but he's not responsive to that.
What's Jack's legacy going to be? What he has achieved in life while utilizing only a fraction of his potential, and that's been more than most of us can list, is quite admirable; but for his last dozen plus years on the planet to be so low and sad, disappointing and pathetic is a shame. I, for one, would prefer to not have those memories the most recent, lingering ones of him.
When he complained this week that we "never go anywhere or do anything," I was able to point out several examples of where I've tried to get him to do just that - go out and do things, with me or with others, and every time he declines and opts to, instead, sit in his self-destructive pattern alone with a bottle and a pack of cigarettes.
I've urged him to consider counseling, to help with his emotional state and to address self-control challenges and coping skill issues. Some days he says, "Yeah, I know, I could probably use some improvement there," but he will never acquiesce to admitting to anyone that he needs help--not to the extent of reaching out for and engaging with it. No, Jack thinks he's got everything under control, meanwhile it is clear he is pretty well out of control and losing more of his personal power every day. It's getting more and more difficult to get him to even agree to take a shower or bathe.
When he's been drunk and said he "can't stand" me and that I'm such a "(insert expletive)," I've suggested he contact a professional home care agency and hire someone else to help him, or to move entirely and set things up the way he thinks he wants them as long as he keeps in mind his doctor's statement (and his own) that he can no longer live alone. But he never takes action to embark on either suggestion. He stays, and he continues the yo-yo behavior--together and sweet one minute, hostile or distant the next.
If he would abstain from alcohol altogether, and quit the smoking, too, which he's been able to do cold-turkey three times or so over his lifetime (he's got a strong will), at seventy-two he could improve his health and his life. He just needs to want to. He could rebuild and repair at least some of the damage done to his physical body, and improve his mind, as well. He could be happier.
There are those that would have serious medical emergencies if they just stopped drinking alcohol, which is why many warn against that. However, years ago when Jack was admitted to the hospital with end stage liver failure, he was suddenly off alcohol altogether and under close watch by the hospital staff and not a single tremor or problem occurred. His roommate there went through terrible detox challenges, but not Jack. All this did was further convince him that he's invincible and different and special and can do whatever he wants to, when he wants to, the way he wants to, no matter what. I wonder how long that is going to last.
The hunt for the fugitive Sweat is still on, and the storm continues to rain down on the farm, cooling things off and feeding the earth. Jack remains in his truck in the driveway while I type away quietly here with my cat, and pray for a permanent solution.
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