There’s a time for writing, for visiting with one’s juniors and one’s elders, for knowing when to leave others alone. Time’s a strange thing. No one knows where it comes and where it goes, the songwriter said. I think he’s got something there. I’ve missed so much in this world. Never got married, never had my own kids. It turned out to be the only honorable choice for me to take, when I realized I had come down with the chemical imbalance when I was in school. I only knew what to do instinctively, almost before I understood anything else about what I was up against.
What I found out was that I’d been trained especially for the decision-making process to handle my major issues in life, all by the age of twenty-one. I knew more truth instinctively than my father ever knew, with all his fancy PhD and pompous divinity degree, all his book learning. He was always demanding to be obeyed. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he wanted everyone else to follow him. The one place I never regretted following that man was in going to church. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in church. I’m glad I went.
I was always so impatient with my father; with his violence, his paranoia. But I learned a lot from that man. He taught me about the illness I would come down with in young adulthood, and what to do with it when I did. I learned to avoid being violent, under all circumstances. I learned to do without my girl, without a job, without a career; how to treat other people I meet along the way of life with dignity and respect. The ladies who finished raising me taught me a lot about how to be respectful of other people, as well. All those were valuable lessons. There was many a time I would not have gotten along as well as I did, if I had not learned my lessons about things like how to be decent in regards to others in this world.
Yes, I can remember times I behaved indecently, at the times I made huge mistakes in this world. We all make them. That’s only part of being human. Wishing those times away after they’re over and done is a waste of energy. I got away from those days. I’m not that desperately ill anymore. I’ve known some recovery over the years. I’m no paragon of virtue, that’s for sure. But I wonder what I can do to help that man who lives here in assisted living, whom everyone rejects, just like his own children do? He’s always trying my patience more than anyone else here. His babbling won’t let me alone. His voice finds me at every meal, and I can’t help being involved in his plight.
There’s something about how it is, being a man of God in this world, when there’s nothing else you can do, except to spend time in prayer for some poor lost soul, who is not dead yet, but can’t seem to get divine help no matter what he does. He keeps talking about Holiness, as if it’s only a matter of having a hole of some sort, somehow, like being a donut or something. It sounds so overtly vulgar, but I don’t think that’s what he’s saying. I think he’s just lost.
I think he’s searching for God. I think he’s trying to get delivered from all his trials and tribulations while he’s still here in this world. That’s what our jobs are as human beings, anyway. He’s lonely, now that his wife has died and his kids have summarily rejected him in his old age. He’s always wagging his tongue at the dinner table, talking nonsense whenever we’re all in the dining room. He’s searching for something, and doesn’t know where or how to look. I wonder what I can do to help him?
There’s only a little time for a little while in life, and then the time runs out, for all of us. Then life is over. What is a man of God supposed to do to help a helpless drunk find what he’s looking for? That drunk can’t figure out what to do, so he goes to meals in the dining room, drinks his two beer limit, and babbles, like an idiot. But he’s not stupid. He’s just a drunk, who can’t find a way to get away from his bottle. He doesn’t understand that that’s what would help him the most. I’d try to say something to him, but I wouldn’t know where to start. I think it’s good that I’m thinking about him, though. He’s such a mess. He needs a lot of prayer.
My mother taught me a lot about what it means to have courage in life, to forage ahead on faith. I wonder how I would have felt if I had married Mary, had a life with her, had her die on me, and left me with a couple of grown kids who didn’t want anything at all to do with me when I got old? That’s where that guy is coming from. His wife died, and left him alone in his old age. This is an institution, and if you don’t have any of your own people coming to see you when you’re in an institution, you’re up the creek. It eats away at you spiritually, whenever your own family won’t be involved in your institutional life, regardless of what kind of institution you’re in. That’s why I moved South, to be with my family, get help fending off the dogs.
March has been a great month for me, with my brother and I both having birthdays to celebrate with each other this month. If I’d stayed up North, I would have missed those dinners. I like living here. It’s a nice experience, overall.
All those years I had to spend in hospitals, I can’t help but wonder whatever happened to all those people I met when I was on the inside. I’m not certain that too many of them made it, over the long run. I know some of them are long since dead and gone. They died young, at their own hands or at the hand of things like cancer, drink, or drugs. Time has a way of running out on a person. Others just couldn’t get away from the doctor’s certificates against them, the way I managed to do. I had a lot of help with that.
I managed to get sober and stay sober. That’s what made the difference in my life. I’ve found I’ve been able to face whatever life has thrown at me, ever since. There were people in my life who took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself. Is it time to give back with this other drunk? Then, on the other hand, there were people who took advantage of me when I was vulnerable. I don’t concern myself with people like that. Time always catches up with them in the long run.