Tomorrow I was supposed to go to a Gouge family reunion near Oxford, Pennsylvania and the Nottingham Park. I sent my regrets. I’m just not into traveling long distances these days, especially to a destination I’m not sure how to get to. I especially don’t relish traveling on a hot summer day on highways clogged with weekend traffic. It’s just not my thing. I would love to visit my Gouge relatives, take pictures and update family trees but I will have to depend on my cousin Laura for that information. I get enough of the clogged highways right here in lower Delaware. Ironically, we live right next to Route 1. The road I would have to travel to Nottingham Park near Oxford, PA is also Route 1. It is a different Route 1. A Pennsylvania Route 1 versus a Delaware Route 1. When I lived in Pennsylvania another main road was Route 30. You guessed it. One of the main roads near here is also a Route 30. A totally different Route 30.
Route 30, that brings to mind our visit this morning to our friend who lives near Georgetown, Delaware in his double-wide trailer on 22 acres of wooded land. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my longtime friend was informed last week that he had the early stages of dementia. He called it “partial dementia” as if it would make it less serious. But, to my mind, "partial dementia" is like being "partially pregnant." Either you are or you're not. A woman may be in denial about her pregnancy but each day she gets bigger. Our friend is still somewhat in denial about his problem, but each day he fades a little more.
Our friend lives near Route 30, Delaware. Earlier this week he had a security system installed in his mobile home. He has already been robbed once by a home invader and he lives in fear of his neighbor who is encroaching upon his land. He is now a prisoner in his own home. Because of his “partial dementia”, he has difficulty in understanding and operating his new security system. He can’t sleep at night because he is afraid of his neighbor after that neighbor warned him that he shouldn’t go back to where their properties border one another. He is concerned over the firearms that his neighbor possesses. We have talked to him about notifying the police that he was threatened by his neighbor but he is afraid to do so. Earlier this week his nephew and his wife visited. They also urged him to do something. Our friend is petrified. He is paralyzed with fear. He says he is “dying.” We have offered to accompany him to the local police barracks to report the incident. He refuses to go.
He wants to sell his property and move to a safer location but doesn’t know how to take the first step. Many times over the past several years when my friend has encountered problems like this, I have done the legwork, got all the details and handed over the work to him to complete only to see him drop the ball. He does it every time. I don’t know if his problem is inertia, laziness, or just a predisposition to stick his head in the sand and hope everything will go away. His problems are not going away. They are getting worse. He is either unwilling or unable to take the first step to help himself. The old adage "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" comes to mind.
After my conversation with him yesterday about taking steps to report his neighbor physical threats to the police and his lack of action, I was unable to get a good night’s sleep myself. This is starting to affect me now and Lord knows I have enough problems with my Mother and her situation. I visit her next week. I have to gear myself up for that ordeal.
My friend has a partner who lives with him. They just celebrated 25 years of domesticity together. His partner is very capable mentally but unfortunately is so involved with himself and his hypochondriac ways that he fails to see the mental and physical decline of his partner. Bill has asked his partner if he’s noticed the change in his partner. The response was “No, I haven’t seen any change.” This is a very sad situation. Sometimes those closest cannot see a problem. The decline has been so gradual over the years they are blind to the the change.
This morning our friend lamented that he has no memory left. He said it is so frustrating because he cannot remember anything. We can see the toll it is taking on him. He looks haunted. He can hardly talk. I am at my wit’s end what to do. Should I do anything? I’ve offered to help but he refuses to do anything when we suggest concrete actions. He thinks if he buries his head in the sand he will wake up one day and everything will go away. That isn’t going to happen. As with my Mother, all I can do now is monitor the situation. Like my Mother, he has to make the decision to do something about his neighbor and selling his home. My Mother has to make the decision to move out of her home and into a more accommodating location for her physical and mental decline. It’s ironic but both of these people have told me all their lives that they didn’t want to become a burden when they became old. Well, they are now becoming a burden and they don’t even realize it.
I hope when my time comes, it is not a slow mental and physical decline like these two people I’ve known and loved all my life. I always thought a good way to go was to take a nap and not wake up. Hopefully I have a few more years to go (I’m 67 now) and if I do I don’t know who is going to be around to take care of me. My partner will be 81 next month so it is unlikely it will be him. I dread to think that any of my nieces or lone nephew would be my caregiver. I have several grand nieces and nephews but they only know me as the distant and mysterious “Uncle Ronnie.” And I certainly don’t want to fall into the clutches of one of these opportunistic gay men who specialize in “caring” for elderly gay men. None of these scenarios looks very good for my well being, peace and serenity at the end of my life. I try not to think about it. Perhaps this is why I’m so upset over the situation of my longtime friend; I fear that it will be me in the future. In the meantime, I will enjoy the small things of life like watching the hummingbirds feeding at the hummingbird feeder on my back deck last night at sunset. I treasure each day of physical and mental health I have on this earth for I know too soon it could all end.