Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sorry, but I get the Oscars

Henry called tonight. I didn't pick up. Then he emailed. I'm not answering. I am watching the Oscars. I wait all year for this. I'm not giving it up.

Since his accident in 2018, Henry and I have spent countless hours on the phone. The calls are marathons, and they follow a pattern. He asks me about me, then after a perfunctory few moments, the subject changes to him. His confusion. His frustration. His victimization. Much of what he says is fantasy or drivel.* It gets tiresome, so I try to change the subject again, so we can hang up on a positive note. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

For example, last week I tried to switch to a concert he'd attended with Reg and Reg's friend, Patrick. He didn't care much for the performance, so I attempted to find a highlight by asking about the venue.

"Have you ever been there before?"


"What was it like?"

"It has not changed since last time I was there."

"Honey, that doesn't make sense."

 "Yes, it does. I was there all the time in 2009. That was 20 years ago!"

How do you have a conversation like that?

I know he can't help this. But he gets so mad at me he growls. Literally growls like a werewolf. Then I'm upset for hours, or days, afterward. I can't tell you how many showers I've spent replaying these calls in my head.

I know Henry loves me, and that it's a compliment that he reaches out to me. It means he trusts me when he's feeling vulnerable.

But tonight is Oscar night. I love Oscar night. I get Oscar night.

I'll answer his email before I go to bed. I want him to know I'm with him in spirit. I'm always with him in spirit. But I get Oscar night.

*He can't help this, I know. He is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury. If you read the section on "Behavioral Impairments," you'll get an overview of my Henry.

Easier to write

I recently posted about my friend, Kathy, and how concerned I was about her precipitous mental decline. She forgets things she's just said. She has trouble with time. She can't recall major news events that obsessed her just over a year ago.

At 72, she lives alone. But her adult grandchildren are nearby and active in her life. Even better, they have keys to her apartment, so I don't have to worry about Kathy lying confused and injured alone in her home. (You remember that commercial: "I've fallen and I can't get up!")

Those grandkids really are present for her. While she's grown distant from her son emotionally, and her daughter has moved away physically, her grandchildren are emotionally tethered. I was so happy to see a video of Kathy in a sombrero being serenaded for her birthday by the waitstaff at a Mexican restaurant. She was surrounded by her daughter's three adult kids, and she looked so happy.


I still am not convinced this story will have a happy ending. But really, who among us is lucky enough to just close our eyes and die peacefully in our sleep. She is fortunate to have aware and involved young people in her life, and I'm grateful for that.