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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Change of scenery...

I’m in a pretty good mood in spite of all the frustration and drama of the past few weeks. I’m focused on moving forward and doing what must be done. I’ve accepted what’s coming and that has provided me with some sense of relief. I thought about writing about yesterday’s frustrations and the unprofessionalism of people who, in my opinion, should have the upmost in professionality. But my mind is going in a different direction and sometimes --- well --- you just have to let it wander.

Although I’ll soon be living just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, I’m really not much of a beach person. I love the mountains with all the tall trees and clean air. I love the sounds of solitude and the sight of the sun setting behind the treetops. That’s where I am most able to recharge, regroup, and redefine my whole being. Autumn in the mountains is my favorite time of year. Sipping on hot coffee on a frosty morning and sitting by the fireplace in the evenings while reading a good – that’s my idea of heaven.
Years before moving to the Carolinas, while we were still in California, I found an ad for some land in the Klamath Mountains in Oregon. On a whim, Alea and I decided to take a road trip and check out the parcels that were available. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to buy, but rather, I just wanted to look. Road trips with Alea are always fun and I love our bonding time together.

As we made our way up Interstate 5 we passed through the town of Weed and saw an old-fashioned motor lodge where each room was an individual cottage with a carport type garage attached. We could image a Model T Ford in the carport and the travelers settling down for a night of rest. Back in the day it would be a very long drive between rest areas.
Once passed Weed, we diverted our to route to Highway 97. It can be quite boring. No tourist towns. No Stulkey’s fudge ads. Just small town communities in between lots of farm land. Utility poles lined one side of the road for a while and then switched over to the other side after many miles. There were farm houses off in the distance. At one point trees seem almost non-existent – except for some that were part of the yards of the farmhouses.

We had each been quiet for a time with each of us in our own thoughts. Then Alea asked “Do you think the number of trees in the yards is an indicator of how wealthy or the class level of the owners?” I turned my head and stared at her. I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or if she meant it to be a serious question. There was no hint of amusement in her face. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to answer her seriously but instead I burst out in laughter leading to tears streaming down my face. What on earth was she thinking??? So I said (or I tried to say thru my giggling) “Maybe when the income taxes returns are filed, their income is evaluated and then IRS gives them a tree if they made more than last year.”  Both of us were laughing uncontrollably by this time. “OH!! LOOK!! They must be having very good years!!”
Now that we were started on poking fun at our surrounding and finding humor from simple things we were on a roll. We saw signs along the highway that informed us we were in a “Deer Crossing” zone. We wondered if the deer knew they were to cross there at that very location rather than crossing farther down where there was no crossing zone sign. We came up with many different scenarios of how the deer could be informed of their crossing restrictions and what the punishment would be if they didn’t abide by those rules. It was as ridiculous as some Dr. Seuss books. We didn’t care we were thoroughly enjoying our absurdness.
In some places the utility poles seemed to be shorter than others. There would be miles of short poles and then miles of taller poles. We couldn’t figure out why that would be. We tried to come up with all the rational practical reasons, but none of them were working for us. We surmised that the work crew for the shorter poles must have had shorter construction workers and that the poles seemed high enough to them. The taller poles were constructed on days when the crew contained taller workers. It made sense to us at the time.
By the time we reached Klamath Falls, we were exhausted from the long trip and our sides ached from all the laughing. We found a room and slept in the next morning. Then it was off to view all the parcels of land that we had researched previously. It was so reasonably priced that it was almost scary. But people had already been buying up the land and were actually settling into their surroundings. Maybe it was not such a far-fetched idea of latching onto a piece of land for ourselves.
On Sunday we spent the day checking out the town and exploring the area. It was a layed-back kinda place with lots of little interesting gift shops. I could almost see myself living here. Of course, there was not much work here for an executive assistant or real estate title examiner. I would have to take a substantial cut in pay and I doubted that would be something I was interested in doing. I had never really intended for this to lead to the possibly of me leaving my current job and moving to Oregon. This was just a fact finding mission mixed with a mini-vacation from home.
The drive home was filled with talk of family matters and things of a more practical nature. We agreed Klamath Falls was a nice place to visit, but probably not a place to live. However, buying a parcel of land and using it as a “vacation” retreat was not a bad idea. If only there was a more accessible route rather than Highway 97.
Pulling into my driveway, I felt tired but refreshed. I returned to the reality of the here and now. I checked in on my brother (who was dying from leukemia) and thanked the family friend for taking time from her job to stay with him while I was gone. The respite had been good. It was what I had needed.
Maybe as I begin a new phase as caretaker for Riley, there will be a mini-vacation respite with one of the kids that will give me memories as wonderful as the ones I gained from Klamath Falls.


Gabriele Goldstone said...

I connect with your 'stories' in so many ways. Was on a road trip out west with my oldest daughter in May. A 'respite' from my life, too. (And a great memory.)

I no longer see what you're doing as insanity. Now I see myself heading in the same direction. However, I give my drinker a strict allowance - so that he doesn't swallow my life, too. If that's not enough money for him, he knows I'll go. It seems to be a working compromise - for now.

What I resent most of all, besides the wasted $$ is the all the emotional energy it's drained out of me.
And the wasted sympathy for a man who can't acknowledge he's 'powerless over alcohol.'

I've learned so much about my life through reading about yours. Thanks ever so much for your honesty.

Syd said...

I hope that wherever you call home, it will be restful and peaceful.

Anonymous said...

We just buried our own IA; 84 years old,miserable conniving......
It's my fifth end stage alcoholic connection, and hopefully the last. At age 60 I have an extreme alcohol hatred, and I watch my friends closely. Alcoholics are like snakes in the grass, you don't know one is manipulating you until they bite you. All that love and fun they send your way is driven by their own selfishness. Hang in there, and understand that the minute you sever your emotional connection to a drunk, you will reacquire your creativity and joy.

Eclectic Bohemian said...

I think this will be a positive change for you, Linda.

I must admit I'm a bit envious of you. I AM a water-beach person. I also love the mountains. (Specifically the Smokeys)

Anonymous said...

Linda: Move to OR or WA. Both states have great long term care programs thru Medicaid. They have adult foster homes, residential care centers and assisted living facilities which are much better than nursing facilities and cheaper. They can divert his income to you so you can still survive if your still married. Don't let him suck the rest of your life out of you.

We all pay taxes and we all pay for Medicaid. There is no shame and anyone who says different deserves the karma they get because they may be next. I've seen HUNDREDS of families, both rich and poor utilize Medicaid to assist with family members long term care.

That's why we have it. One major medical event can bankrupt all of

There is a VA facility in The Dalles, OR and Walla Walla WA..check it out. Check the Oregon.gov web site.

PS: If you can't provide the care and you've told the Dr's, Nurses, Elder Care or Senior Services they can't hold you responsible. The hospital discharge planners have an ethical responsibility to ensure a safe discharge plan from the hospital. If you can no longer do it...just say NO. Good luck

goodlifenoalcohol said...

Did you realize you were named in the "17 Best Blogs of 2012"? Congratulations. Check it out. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-alcoholism-blogs#3

Dixie Redfearn said...

Linda: Are you going to let Riley start drinking again when you care for him?