For All the Saints, Fanning the Flames, and a Limited Time Offer

I know that here lately I have been rather drawn to the macabre.  It seems that around Halloween (when the seemingly endless Central Ohio winter effectively begins) and also toward the end of February (when the even more depressing season of Snowbooger Grey sets in) I get obsessed with the issue of mortality- mine, and that of others. 

It doesn’t help that Saturday I had to attend the wake (and yes, it was an actual Irish Catholic wake, complete with noise, a plethora of friends, relatives and assorted others, enough food for an army and then some, and plenty of whiskey and beer) of a dear older lady who I was both surprised and delighted to call a friend.  Then Sunday (which had almost completely slipped my mind) was All Saints’, which is one of the hardest days of the year for me to go to church.  I need to do that- especially on the difficult days- but it’s very hard for me to make a conscious effort when I know I will be streaming tears uncontrollably the whole time.  I don’t handle public displays of emotion well at all.  The whole idea behind All Saints’ is to remember those who have gone before us, which has been especially difficult for me since Grandma died. 

Sadly, I don’t spend enough time with people I care about.  I would have liked to have talked with her one more time, but I missed the opportunity.  I am reminded yet again how temporary life is, and how the people I want to see and talk with a little while longer might not be there the next time I think of them.

It might seem strange, for someone like me who isn’t terribly social and isn’t really into superficialities, that I am so neglectful of the very few close relationships I have.  It’s actually rather pathetic that I avoid human contact to such an extreme.  I have enough excuses- overwork and babysitting Jerry are probably the two biggest drains on my time and energy- but excuses are exactly that.  I don’t make the time.  Even though I do cherish people I deem to be friends, being around people wears me out.  I know it sounds superficial and selfish, but I really have to be intentional regarding who I socialize with, and with how much time I spend being in the company of others.  Otherwise I get stretched too thin and get emotionally and physically exhausted. 

Over the years I’ve discovered I need solitude not only to get my head straight and to make some sense of my fractured and often puzzling emotional life, but I also have a genuine physical need to take that ivory tower time.  Leave me alone and let me regenerate.  Often.  The bad thing is that I don’t get nearly enough opportunity for such regeneration, so I take it where I can get it.   Otherwise I will get physically ill, and end up being forced to stop and get away.

As much as I found it necessary to go to our friend’s wake, I paid for it in terms of just plain coming home depleted.  I don’t know if my exhaustion had to do with trying to keep Jerry out of too much trouble (he almost killed an entire 30 pack of Natties) or just from needing to get away from people for awhile.  Perhaps a combination of both?

Maybe I really am one of those people who would be better off out in the middle of nowhere with sparse company other than books, music and dogs.  It’s been way too long since I was able to be left alone long enough to read a novel (and I do have what promises to be a good novel on the way- 11-22-63 by Stephen King.)  It doesn’t take me long to read a novel – even Stephen King’s novels, which tend to be lengthy- but it seems I am constantly being interrupted with Jerry being unable to get his own pills, being unable to shut up late at night, and constantly whining about his shirts or this or that or the other thing. 

Maybe it’s not fair of me to expect Jerry to take care of himself like a normal adult.  Sadly I have been party to his Helplessman routine for many years, so how can I expect him to take his own pills, iron his own shirts, and keep himself from drowning in the toilet when he’s shitfaced?

I know I am no paragon of virtue by a long shot, but I admit I get tired of the babysitting.  It’s hard to put my foot down because Jerry is incredibly emotionally fragile.  He gets on my nerves, yes, but he’s a lot worse when he gets either shitfaced and/or in temper tantrum mode.  Sadly, he has learned (just like a toddler) that the tirades are a form of blackmail.  “Appease me or I’ll go off again” is the mentality.  While I know that it’s a fruitless endeavor to keep on feeding alligators, way too much of the time I simply cave in and let him have what he wants so he will shut up.  Especially if I’m tired and/or he’s drunk.  The irony here is that in the end I’m just rewarding him for whining.  Unlike a toddler, when Jerry starts in with the whining and tirades, I can’t take him to the ladies’ room and warm his behind.

I know all too well that life is a limited time offer.  I shouldn’t be so harsh with Jerry, even though I lose my patience with the helpless act and with the gambling and drinking.  I know I should cherish whatever time we have even though he does try my patience and dealing with his behavior can be quite draining.

I’ll have time to sleep when I’m dead.  Hopefully somewhere along the way I’ll find time for the Stephen King novel.

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