When one sits at the precipice of night, with writing implement at hand, there has got to be a noticeable cacophony of thoughts coursing through the author’s mind, who can’t sleep. These thoughts have wakened me in the middle of the night, for some expression. I sit here, wondering what it was that was so terribly important. Chasing nightmares has always been fruitless. Then, it hits me.
I’m thinking about the elderly, because I’m surrounded by them all day long. I miss the elderly in my own family, too. Now that their all dead and gone, I miss them all the more acutely. Each one of them was a dynamic presence in the home where I grew up. Even mother is gone now. I visited her on her death bed in hospice. I watched her decline. Said goodbye in the only way I could think of.
One doesn’t have to write blood and guts to be creative and interesting to read, under the lamp in the parlor. Just as one avoids scenes of violence and sex, as being disrespectful to one’s elders, it becomes of paramount importance to the process of cordially conversing with one’s elders. It doesn’t make sense that so many authors feel the necessity of being disturbing in what they write.
I know, it’s gotten to be a habit for some authors. I’m saying, break the habit.
In our family, one was groomed in the art of polite conversation. On a superficial level, we were the epitome of a well-bred, well-adjusted family. Behind closed doors, there was a lot of screaming and hollering going on. Lounging in the parlor with one’s elders, two generations removed, would have been unspeakably offensive the ladies, to bring up any sort violence.
After all, the other people in the room are vulnerable and elderly. You happen to be young and strong, yourself. If one cannot respect one’s elders sensitivities, what good are is it? I don’t see why writers don’t write about the bumps and bruises families go through in life, instead of going around killing people, whether in a book or on the screen. Why not talk dirty laundry in entertainment?
Dirty laundry is the thing people crave to hear anyway.
Mother fell and broke her hip in January one year. Physical therapy did their best to help her get her strength back, but her strength would not come. Then the dementia started taking over her mind, until mother became a shadow of herself. Mother became noticeably feeble, and that wouldn’t go away either. In the final months of her life, I continued to visit her daily but she was going.
It was heartbreaking to watch mother’s decline. It took about nine months. I was there.
I had spoken to mother about my own wishes at her final illness. She made certain I received each wish. She died with dignity, just as she had lived. I drove the forty five minutes to hospice, knowing that any moment could be mother’s last. She held off until my final visit was complete, and then she died. I didn’t like to see her so hopped up on morphine even though she needed it.
I’ve been plagued with chronic schizo-affect disorder, ever since I was twenty, along with a drug and alcohol habit, which had me baffled for a long time. It was a really tragic thing, when you think about it. I was in the prime of life, about to get married, and was forced by my circumstances to come home alone, only to spend much of my life in state hospitals.
Mother visited me at the various hospitals where I happened to be, regardless of her personal comfort. She showed up every weekend because she knew I couldn’t get out to take myself anywhere. For a long time, I believe it was ten years, I was a patient at a certain hospital which was a forty five minute drive between where mother lived and where I was situated in the hospital.
She traveled the forty five minutes each way, just to be there for me. I’ll never forget that.
One was perpetually being groomed the art of in parlor etiquette in our house. Then they’d forget themselves and start fighting some more. This is a child’s perspective. It happened when dad was around, too. Dad had the chronic schizo-affect disorder. I got it from him genetically. He wanted a PhD badly enough that he got it. Got busy refusing professorships all over the place.
I can’t imagine what dad’s reputation was after he did all that.
Dad didn’t want to be a professor. It was the farthest thing from his mind. Dad didn’t want a job at all, in his state of mental collapse. Never mind he had four brilliant teenagers in the house, all in need of an education, not to mention food to eat. He only wanted to go to school endlessly. He started having yet another nervous breakdown, which meant that he wanted to get away from his family.
As a result, mother started breaking dishes against the wall. She was the one who flatly refused to leave dad and go to grandma’s, knowing what sort of person he was. Dad was mentally unstable and prone to violence. Mom knew. Her children’s education was an object, but our physical safety was not. It didn’t make sense and it was not rational, but apparently mother thought that way a long time.
She still trusted dad until she found out the bank account was empty and the car was gone.
One was even groomed in the art of crossing and uncrossing one’s legs, which was a polite behavior practiced by both male and female students. When one converses with one’s grandmother and great aunts, one is polite and kind to a fault. It’s time to roll out all the boyish charm one can muster, and cause the baby blues to sparkle a little extra, because one is conversing with one’s elders.
None of us kids were thinking about any kind of future for ourselves, at least I wasn’t, in the summer of 1964. I was only thirteen, and would live forever, even excluding the recently suffered personal trauma I was in denial about. We were only grateful to be avoiding beatings, and having people around us, who were at least slightly sane, even if they sometimes yelled at each other.