I’m not feigning modesty when I say I’m a fake. That last piece; I didn’t feel that way when I posted it. I felt that way last week, but I only catch rare glimpses at rare moments of wisdom. Mostly, my life of late is pain, ennui, and resentment. Do you want to know what the two biggest things on my mind are right now—aside from my health issues? Number one, I’m wondering how the hell I’m going to keep up with all the bloggers who are following my blog now that there are so many of them. In the past, I followed the blog of every person who followed mine, but I can’t continue doing that. Yet, there is a big part of me that would like even more followers because more followers means more validation.
Number two, I don’t feel that there’s anyone I can really count upon. When I had my surgery, I figured, okay, I’ll be in a sling for six weeks, and unable to use my arm for at least another month. Peggy will be gone eleven days during that time, and she will be at work three days out of seven when she’s home. I therefore need to freeze lots of food, get the house and yard in really good shape, and do everything else that might need doing in the next three months. Due to my providence, I was left with very few things that I needed. Namely, cleaning the house, mowing the yard, and help walking the dogs. I assumed I could count on Peggy for the house and yard, but I figured I would need help with the dogs during the ten days she would be gone and the three days per week that she works. Who would help me? My friends, my Odd Fellow lodge, my Masonic lodge?
Here’s how it has played out. Only four Odd Fellows offered to help, and they are too old and feeble to walk the dogs with me. I’ve heard from two Masons, only one of whom asked what he could do. “You can help me walk the dogs. One of them is blind; I can’t use the shoulder that was operated on at all; my other shoulder hurts so much that I have to walk with my hand in my pocket; I’m afraid they will get tangled up and trip me; plus it would be hard for me to hold them while I pick up poop. I need you to hold one of them and to help with the poop.” “Well,” he said, “maybe the dogs will just have to hangout by the fire until you’re well again.”
So much for the Odd Fellows. So much for the Masons. Luckily, I have other friends.
For instance, my best friend of 22 years, Walt. Haven’t seen him. Not at all. I’ve called numerous times, but, alas, it was never at a convenient time, and he has stopped calling back.
My next best friend of 23 years, Shirley, who lives just around the block. I stopped calling her after the fifth time in a row that she turned me down. When I gave her a birthday gift yesterday, she was all smiles and hugs, but what they meant to her, I cannot say.
My third best friend of 14 years, Jackie. She came over twice, but now she’s busy knitting a sweater on her days off and can’t come at all.
After an appreciable outpouring of support during the week after surgery, I was apparently expected to be back to normal after two weeks at the latest.
So who has helped?
My neighbor, Ellie, and a couple who I hardly knew, Doug and Leslie. Ellie has called, walked the dogs with me, and has twice sent her son to mow the grass when Peggy didn’t have time. Doug and Leslie have literally come every time I called them, made arrangements to help days in advance, and even called to offer their help when they didn’t hear from me. They have brought me gifts, cooked me meals, taken me places, and walked the dogs more times than I can count. Two other new friends have helped some too.
I have heard it said that you don’t know who your friends are until you need them. Yet, I would not be at all surprised but what those people who have utterly failed me are oblivious to how I feel. I’m sure that, in their minds, I had an endless list of friends to call upon, so it really didn’t matter if they turned me down repeatedly. It was as if they said, “I’m really here for you, but just be sure that you only ask me to do those things that I really want to do anyway at the very time that I really want to do them.”
Or maybe they were like the Mason who offered to help but then decided that the kind of help I said Ineeded wasn’t really necessary. Yet, I had thought that walking the dogs with me was a very small thing to ask in terms of actual work (more a social event than a chore), yet a very great thing in terms of what I needed. I had done everything else in advance so as to avoid needless imposition.
My dilemma now is how to treat these people in the future when I no longer need them and, presumably, they will once again find my company desirable. In all honesty, I don’t want to see them, because it seems to me that I mistook spray painted plastic for 24-carat gold. How could I have been so stupid?
Peggy just left for her button convention in Portland. Because she’s a procrastinator, she spent most of the time since her return from Mississippi preparing button trays for a competition that she had known about for the last year. The only real time we've had together was a three hour walk in the woods the day after her return on April 12. Today, she promised to walk the dogs with me before she left, but she later decided she didn’t have time. She also promised to do some dusting, but she ran out of time for that also. I can’t do housework effectively with one hand, but I’m through living as if I were an animal who has no choice but to go hungry until someone decides to fill his bowl.
It is now 1:00 a.m. After I wrote the above, I took the dogs for a walk and cleaned two rooms, my thought being that I can finish the house in four days at that rate. I went to bed at 10:30, but the night has thus far been spent getting up every half hour to take more pills. My left shoulder—the one that didn’t have surgery—has been bothering me all along because it had to take over for my right shoulder, and cleaning house makes it hurt many times worse. Oddly enough, my right shoulder is now hurting even more than the left one. I tried to let it rest in its sling while I worked, but I was constantly running into things that I needed it for, just a little. After an ice bag, an Ambien, two Percocet, two Benadryl, and two Requip, I still can’t sleep. I literally don’t know how I am going to carry on without help.
I think that much can be said in favor of money over friends in times of trouble. If Peggy didn’t oppose it, I would have hired a maid, and that would have at least taken the house off my back, but, alas, she doesn’t want strangers coming around. She said she would clean it herself Sunday, and I know her intentions are good, but I also know that her best intentions often get snowed out. She will come home with scores of new buttons to be organized and carded, so the house could get postponed yet again. I simply can’t count on anything getting done unless I do it. If I re-injure the shoulder that was operated on in the process, I will be very sad indeed, but this waiting for people to help me is just so much degrading bullshit.
Stockholm memories, scattered and smothered - *First things first, or Loose Ends Tied Up While-U-Wait Department: I arrived at Arlanda airport in Stockholm early in February 1969 wit...