After ten years of not exactly saintly but certainly thorough and effective advocacy for someone with an unfortunate cluster of problems, your vocabulary changes. Words like ‘impairment,’ ‘handicap,’ and ‘disorder’ become second nature. You may not like their clinical sheen, but since they’re far better than the words applied during a tempestuous childhood, you use them. The ugly echoes: ‘fat slob,’ ‘fucking nuts,’ and ‘impossible.’
But today, a new word supplies perspective and it is GRIME. Sorting your sister’s beads from the failed parent-financed venture in Rockport, you dump them into plastic trays, eager to chuck the sticky plastic bags. They are so GRIMY. You use windex on the storage boxes, not wanting to know the source of one lid’s ocher spatter (cat puke? ramen stock?) The tools of glass-cutting and jewelry-making offer sad testimony to squandered talent — cruddy, rusted and neglected as they are.
Restoration requires, among other things, sand paper.
I had to use a dry toothbrush to clean these three little felt gifts.
Indolence, apathy, compulsive consumption of low brow television and food, the repetitive shooing of most people away, and the manufacturing of insult and victimhood with others, it turns out, leave a grubby residue.
You will need to remember this.
When you’re telling yourself that it wasn’t enough to supply her with a brand new pack of jewelry findings — that you should’ve figured out how to get her crafting as well — you’ll need to remember this.
And you’ll need to remember the virulence of her refusals. Her knack for turning any suggestion that required effort on her part into evidence of your deeply flawed character. Recall, just for one second, her lengthy diatribes about your failure to understand. Your lack of compassion. And how the screeching had more in common with hurricanes or tsunamis than with speech.
You learned not to make the suggestion. And to skedaddle.
You have long recognized the violence of applying “shoulds” to others. Perhaps this difficult passage will teach you to extend the same courtesy to yourself.
As to fatalism: think I’m gonna start taking my social security. At 62, I am now the age my mother was when she died. I’ve outlived my father by eight years. My sister is receiving hospice care at 64.
My parents were smokers and my sister has health issues that I don’t share, but still…
The monthly payment won’t be a lot, but for someone who hasn’t earned a significant salary since the early 90’s, it seems a small fortune.
Lastly, look at this guy. With temps in the mid-30’s and beautiful sun, we enjoyed what felt like a balmy walk this morning!