Thursday, September 8, 2011
Keeping reality real...
After a frustrating week of trying to get help for the stray hound dog, Deputy McArthur arrived and took the sweet boy to SPCA for medical treatment. It was difficult to see him go, but the reality is that I cannot afford another dog. I pray that he gets a good home where he will be fed regularly and played with everyday.
This retirement thing is being a bit difficult to grasp. I still get up before dawn and find myself trying to get things done before my usual clock in time. I’m getting better – I actually took a nap yesterday. I think that these first few weeks may be a bit of a trial. I need to be better at scheduling my time and staying in a quasi routine.
My daughter, Alea, came out to visit for a couple of days. It’s always good to have her here. It started raining just as Alea was getting ready to leave. She made mad dashes to her car with her bags, trying to stay as dry as possible. I was in my office and I heard Riley yell out the back door – “You know it’s raining out there!” and “You’re gonna get wet!” He can’t stand up without holding onto something and he grasped the laundry room sink which is near the door. Still he swayed back and forth, watching his daughter scurry around her car.
It’s not often I see or hear Alea get irritated with her father. But today was different. She raced back up the steps and I heard her yell –“Move!!!” I knew that Riley was standing right in front of the door and she could not get around him. She was getting soaked just trying to get into the house.
The next thing I heard was – “Really, Dad? I’m pretty sure I know that it’s raining and I’m darned sure I know that I’m getting wet!!” There was no humor in her voice. There was no punctuating laughter. She was just disgusted with his statements of the obvious. “I think I know what I’m doing and yelling at me from the door is not helping anything or anyone.” As she entered back into my office, she mumbled “Damn drunks.”
Now, I know, and Alea knows, Riley is not responsible for the rain. He didn’t make it happen and no one blames him for the weather. We live in the south where it rains one minute and there’s clear blue sky the next. We just live with it. It is a fact of life. But somehow when Riley starts in with that little tone in his voice, it almost seems that he thinks someone is definitely responsible for those drops of water falling from the sky. It seemed to Alea and me, that Riley thought she had ordered up the rain and then went out to play in it. The thought of that made us laugh. So as we are speaking out about ridiculous weather scenarios we decided that just before her next visit we’d order up some snow to kill the gnats. Then on the day she arrives, we’ll order up a nice sunny, yet cool, day so we could sit outside and have a bar-be-que. How lovely it would be if that were reality.
Ahhh… reality… how fleeting it is in the house that contains an alcoholic – especially an end-stage alcoholic. For Riley, reality is whatever is on the news at the moment and everything on the news is an urgent matter that somehow needs someone to respond to it at the exact same moment that he hears it. He comes to my office door and makes a statement – then he laughs or grunts or makes some kind of noise and then goes back to the TV as he throws out possible outcomes of the newest bit of information. I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do about it. Sometimes I comment. Sometimes I ignore. Sometimes I snicker. Sometimes I become irritated.
There are a lot of unrealistic things going on lately. Like, Riley’s need to hang on every phone conversation that I may have. His theory is that he wouldn’t mind if I picked up the phone and eavesdropped on his conversations with his brother, therefore, I should not mind if he does it with my phone conversations. I explain that just because he doesn’t mind me eavesdropping doesn’t mean that I don’t mind. It’s not a concept that he can grasp. Simple courtesy escapes him because his reality only concerns what he wants at any given time. His reality is not realistic.
After Alea left, I felt a sense of loneliness in the house. My reality is that I need to make some changes. There is no companionship with a man whose world resides in a bottle or a TV set. Conversations are difficult even on his good days. I have been out here in the country for a year and I need to start cultivating some friendships with local ties.
Now that I’m not immersed in a “regular” job, there is no reason why I can’t join that book group that meets on Wednesday mornings. I have no time constraints that prevent me from volunteering at the hospital or library. As the caretaker of an end-stage alcoholic, I must remember that I need other people who are not part of the insanity. Interaction with others will give me insight – a barometer – of how bad things really are with Riley. If I continue to simply live my entire life within these walls, I may become to immune to the insanity and start to view it as not so unusual. It’s like placing a box in the corner of a room the day you move into a new house. After a while, it starts to feel that the box belongs in that corner and so it never gets unpacked or moved. That’s just where it’s always been so that’s just normal. I've even been known to throw a tablecloth over it, put a lamp on top and call it a table. The reality is that it IS NOT a table, just a box disguised as a table. But, it becomes a table because that starts to feel like a normal reality.
I know that even in retirement, I have a lot on my plate. My projects are taking the spotlight – that’s a good thing. But, I must learn to structure my time so that I’m taking advantage of other possible activities. I always work best in some form of scheduled situation – I would have failed if I had been forced to attend
as a child. I used to have a day-timer and I think I need one again. Uhhhh…. Do they even make those anymore??? Montessori School
Today’s schedule and tasks are: 1) Get a day-timer; 2) Set aside time in my day-timer to find a local friend and/or do an outside activity.
How hard could that be??
at 5:39 AM