Friday, November 26, 2010

For Paul Williams

I dreamt you were accepted by an exceptional elder care facility.
And I was glad to get you out of the place where they know your name (Mr. Paul) but not who you are and don't have time to know anyways.
And they lose your glasses. Again today.

We moved you to the new place which was just down the street and found your bed which was an upper berth. The patients slept in layers, of which you were near the top.
They knew your name and the same lady nurse waited on you. Bathed you carefully and clothed you in warm clean clothes. They put your name on a cloth tag and sewed it into the fabric of every garment. Carefully and with precision.

I love you. But I don't know if you know what that means anymore. And anyways, I'm not there to tell you that everyday. I know you smile when I smile.

I don't know how we could afford this new facility, it must have been we won the lottery. Or a scholarship for artists that did great work in their lifetime. The MacArthur Grant for severely ill genius's.

I was happy to have you in a home, with a garden, that was as caring and skilled with their clients as you were with your work, your writing, your books: the hours spent listening to a single piece of music so you could learn it's language, it's secrets which you could so effortlessly convey to us readers. And we would think, you knew something that we'd been thinking all along, and 'how does he know that?' 'How does he know my language?' And through this, you sacrificed your hearing for us. So that we might come to understand, that we are a community of thought/of feeling within this beloved piece of music.

When I left you there, standing in the hallway, a nurse by your side. I saw you'd become a child. Only 3 feet tall. Helpless, innocent. Someone I felt torn, heartbroken to leave for the night. But I knew, behind it all, you were in good hands, better than my own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Kiss and Stupid Ruminations

Here's one of those things one doesn't want to talk about when you're married to a guy with deteriorating health, in this case dementia (might be different if your spouse still has his wits about him and you could share in the weird health issues). What does one do for companionship?

My girlfriend went through a divorce recently, things ended amicably enough, and I've been watching her experiences like a hawk. First she got right online and signed up for a number of those Internet dating interfaces, like or Plentyofish. She'd come over and use my computer and I'd get to watch how she sorted through the guys. I think this sort of "dating" might work for someone that's very visually inclined. I don't know, and I guess I really don't get it. But watching her adventures (and misadventures) has been a great amusement to me.

For one thing, she's decided at this age, (that is, past the desire to engage ones diminishing biological clock) that there are a lot of "Santa Claus'" out there. Okay, maybe I'm being a f*ing jerk, but what is it with some of the guys after the age of 50? Maybe too much beer or pasta...but then the beard comes out and the handle bar mustache and the Harley and the ripped tee shirt and the big ol' arms with prison tat's, (okay, maybe that's just my hometown)..... Some of the guys list old rock icons as the music of choice. So these guys won't have heard of Sonic Youth or Beck ("yeah, Jeff Beck!), or Elliot Smith or Kings of Leon or most anything past 1976.

It's tough. My husband Paul, is 62 years old and has early onset of dementia due to a brain injury (he'd actually recovered from back in 95) he lives at a nursing home now and he looks pretty good compared to some of the guys the website suggests for her. Then there's the problem with the 'content' or text on the profiles with misuses of words like there, they're and their (spell check? and you can tell when its a typo). Or, where I live, by the beach, many of the guys are hoping for a retirement in Tahiti in a few years.

Paul and I used to talk about the concept of retirement. Artists don't retire. Why would we want to stop doing something we love to do?

Whatever. Okay, I admit it. I am being a f--ing jerk.

And I'm not the greatest catch myself.
I'm worn out from years of caring for someone. I've still got Paul to care for in some small ways, and for, I'm sure, a long time to come. I'm lousy with a need to have some enjoyment, fun even, just as a distraction from the immensity of sad from the past 7 years. It's not like one sits around feeling sorry for oneself. I think it doesn't work that way once you're past the shock of it all. It's just the constant juggling of making daily things work right and putting up with the little indignities. Who will trims his finger nails? Who is in charge of making sure the nursing home finds his belts, so his pants won't fall down? Talking to the nursing home barber about not cutting his hair into a freaking crew cut, again.

I'm certainly no great shakes. As a musician I make a essentially what would be called a poverty level wage and I have a 9 year old to raise (a lovely one to be sure). On that note I just got a call today from Section 8 housing, which helps poor folk get into affordable housing. I'd signed up for it about 5 years ago, when things were so terrible with Paul living at home, and I guess my number has come up. The catch is though, you have to live in a place with others that are on Section 8 housing and that is probably not a block and a half from the beach like where I live now (and have lived for the past 16 years). Decisions. It could save me money, probably $400 a month, which could pay for 2/3rds of my health insurance, but I'd have to live in a place not nearly as nice as what we have now.

So there you have it.... I'm a loser, living amongst losers looking for losers. Aint it grand?

But no complaints. I had my first kiss in way too many years, and life is indeed, very grand.