It’s been an emotionally difficult week. Mom has contracted an infection, and it’s severely affected what remains of her cognitive abilities. She has no idea where she is and what’s happening to her. She doesn’t know how to calm herself and so she calls people all the time, even though she can’t really communicate when she gets them on the phone. And when she calls I’ll try to soothe her and then she’ll call back ten minutes later not remembering that she had already called me. Lately she has been making late-night phone calls to family all across the country.
It would be easy enough to take her phone away, but it’s her only connection to anything that makes sense to her anymore – even if she can’t recall the names of the people she’s calling or why. Understandably, she is extremely distraught that things don’t make sense – that she can’t piece together a narrative of her world that makes sense to her. Often times when she calls she is crying.
I think one of the hardest things to do is stay grounded in contemporary civilization. The number of things that offer distraction and cheap emotional jolts are almost beyond count (including this blog). Even while I write this in an open air café, there is a babble of surrounding voices, the rumble of traffic, and I’m listening to jazz on my laptop.
I was talking about love relationships the other day with a buddy who recently found himself a new one, and is enjoying the heady, crazy bonding stage of romance. Lucky bastard. Our discussions made me think of how I once viewed these and how that perspective has evolved over the years. When I was a lot younger I believed that love could be if not perfect, at least quite ideal. Being somewhat self-aware I knew that I brought an awful lot of complex dysfunctional baggage to my relationship with Tracy, and make no mistake, I was painfully aware of her shortcomings as well. I was unhappy in those days, and believed I was a quite damaged individual, which was probably at least somewhat true. But like a badly running car (or a clapped out wooden boat) I thought I was “fixable” and had a responsibility to do so.