Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cracks in the Wall



Here we go folks, one of those cryptic blog posts.  I'm not trying to be cute here folks but sometimes I just have to get my feelings out.

Regular followers of this blog know that I've had a pretty good life.  In spite of my recent rash of medical maladies (more in the past few years that my whole previous 70 years of life) I still have a pretty good life.

I have a loving and devoted partner/husband who loves me in spite of all my (many) flaws.  No matter what, he is always here (to use a tired old cliche) "here" for me.  Always.  No questions asked.  For the past fifty-one years.  Where others have asked "What does he see in him", Bill knows me and accepts me as I am.  And he knows I love him no matter what.  


Bill and me on our wedding day


I have a good job.  I have enough income to maintain my present living conditions for a few years to come.  However, I am worried about the ever increasing costs of all my insurance policies, especially medical insurance.  Hopefully I will die before it comes to a point where I can no longer afford the medical premiums.

I live in a very comfortable house for which I have worked all my life to attain. I am now here.  

I live in a good neighborhood with kind and caring and respectful neighbors.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is where one lives.  I have lived in too many neighborhoods where we were ostracized just because we were gay.  Hopefully that will never happened again in our lifetime.

I have a few good friends whom I appreciate very much. They know who they are, no need to name names.


Friends Wayne and Pat in happier times - 2013 Kalmyr Nickel


But something has changed.  Remember how I was so interested in family reunions and class reunions?  In fact today my high school is holding a class reunion in Downingtown.  It's being held at a friend and former classmate's house picnic style. I've attended those informal reunions before at his house.  I won't be attending this reunion.  The reason I won't be attending is that, when I told him of my marriage to Bill he said "What's next Ron? Marrying your pet?"  When I pointed out to him that he just insulted me his response was "Well Ron, a lot of people believe that."  He just doesn't get it.  I was so disappointed in him because I really like him.  In the past I've been a guest at his house Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.  His wife and family have always been welcoming to me.  But it's obvious now perhaps the only reason was because I knew my place, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  

Last year I had held one of my several family reunions that I've held over the past twenty years.  This was the first one Bill came too.  Hardly any of my family showed up including my brother who lives just down the road from the park where the reunion was held.  I was so hurt and embarrassed by the blatant disrespect that I vowed never again in my life to hold another family reunion.  And I will not.  I normally held these family reunions in October.  No more.  Some of my family relatives attended and I appreciated their support but the large majority of my family has written me off apparently because I dared to bring my husband to the family reunion. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".


Last Family Reunion 2013


A few years ago I lost contact with both of my brothers after I sent out Christmas cards with a picture of me and Bill at our marriage ceremony.  Not one relative wished us well.  They all knew I've been with Bill for all these years but apparently coming out in the open, that was where I went too far.  

I still care for my brothers and their families, that will never change.  But something has changed.  I've changed.  They haven't.  I'm am embarrassment to them now.  

Remember how involved I was with Find a Grave and the volunteering?  Not anymore.  I just don't care.  




I keep a daily journal.  I have for eight years now.  While I enjoy writing in my daily journal, I sometimes wonder, what will become of that daily journal when I die?  Does anyone care?  The answer of course is "No."  No one cares.  I have over 80,000 photos on my computer.  Does anyone care?  No.  When I die that history is gone . . . . forever. No one cares.

This past year several of my friends and acquaintances have died.  My life as I know it is diminishing.  Bill will be 87 years old this month. Thank goodness, he is still in good health albeit his hearing is less.  He loves and cares for me just as much as he did when we met fifty-one years ago.  And believe me folks, that is no small miracle because as anyone who knows me knows, I am not the easiest person to love.  I am self-centered, egotistical, irritable, stubborn and whatever other negative adjective that you wish to apply.  How do I know this?  Because others have often told me so.  I always get a kick out when some say "What does Bill see in you?"  My answer?  I don't know other than I think I'm a good person but that's probably for others to judge.

Anyway, these days I'm sleeping more in the morning.  Where I used to get up at 7 in the morning, now I get up at 8:30 or 9.  I frequently take an hour or so nap in the afternoon.  And in the evening I wind down at 9 or 10 o'clock.  I'm just tired. I think of my Mother, the few years before she died.  She slept a lot.  Almost round the clock.

These days I keep myself occupied by posting my blog entries, playing Scrabble on-line (a recent activity which I love), gardening, working part-time and Face Timeing my Canadian friend (you all know who that is).  But even he is becoming less tolerant (and I don't blame him) of my sometimes selfish behavior. I don't mean to be so self-centered and try not to be but apparently I am without even realizing it.  I always seem to eventually drive away all my friends, except Bill of course. 

I usually take Bill out for a ride in the early evening.  Sometimes we go down Oyster Rocks Road to the Broadkill River and be one with the solitude of those wetlands.  We went down there last night.  As we drove to the dead end of the road we saw a huge crane take flight.  I've always admired cranes, egrets and birds of that type.  For many years I believe my Mother when she told me I was "born" when a stork brought me to the Chester County Hospital.  I really believed that and always wanted to see where the storks landed at that hospital.  Seeing that crane take off last night to me was a metaphor for when my life comes to an end.  That crane will take me away.  Take me away from all the pain, uncertainty and cruelness of this earthly existence.  

As I said before, I've had a good life and continue to have a good life but I feel something coming on.  A change.  Too many people I know have gone.  People I used to call and talk to when I was lonely and felt this creeping sadness that threatens to overwhelm me.  Ron (another one), Ed, Sal, Bob, Wayne, Penny, my Mother and even my brothers.  All gone now.  Waiting.  


My longtime friend Ed at his home on Laurel Street in Rehoboth Beach
NOTE:

Sometimes it is hard for me to hold everything together but rest assured I will continue to do so even though the Black Dog is paying me a visit again.  I have too much going for me in this life. However, one day this will end too and I will have no regrets. I have lived, loved and been loved and what more could anyone ask?

27 comments:

  1. When i read the start of this post, Ron, I was steeling myself for the word 'But' . And so it arrived, on a subject that you've touched on before but has, very understandably, cut deep with you - as it would to anyone with human feelings and a heart.
    Your thoughts get lower in mood as your posting continues and it's not hard to read that you're in a depressed state. (Your final paragraph is particularly concerning.) What can one say? It's entirely rational given your circumstances.
    I hope that when you've let a lot of it leak out you'll feel in a more buoyant mood again i.e. closer to your usual self. Meantime, I wish you the ability to look up and continue to count your blessings though it may seem that the rest of the world is conspiring against you not to recognise them. But I know that you will.
    Take heart, my friend.

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    1. Yep Ray, you detected the visit of the Black Bear at my doorstep, again. That's what Winston Churchill called his periodic bouts with depression isn't it? Of course I write about my Visit to the Valley as a plea for help. Sometimes I feel as if everything is closing in around me and I cannot see the light but I do know the light is out there. As I responded to Sassybear's comment, if it were not for Bill my situation would be a lot more dire. I know I have a lot more in my life than most but there are those times when I am alone, so alone and even more so now that so many of my friends have gone on. Sleep is so restful.
      Ron

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  2. I have not always agreed with what you've said or how you've said it, but that's probably true about everyone I know. You have lived too long, seen and experienced too much, too start apologizing for who you are or how you feel. You will never please all of the people, all of the time, and shouldn't. Having said that, when in relationships with other people, it is a show of respect and affection to consider their wants, needs and feelings, as well as your own. If people are important enough to you, you will realize being understanding is more important than being right. I'm sorry your feeling so detached, so much loss. I am not where you are in life, and can offer no advice, merely that every day we wake up, we make a choice to live another day or not. Some do not get that choice. Some get it, and make the choice to go. Always choose another day. Always. The end is inevitable for all of us...no need to help it along. I hope you find inspiration and joy, even in the simple act of waking up and saying good morning to Bill. :-)

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    1. Sean,
      You are so right. I have lived to long and seen too much. I am who I am and it is too late for me to change even if I could. The one sustaining factor in my life is Bill and for that I am forever thankful. Once he is gone I see no reason to continue other than to just be another target for the telemarketers and their like who seek to take whatever I have left after I pay my bills. But I will continue to go on until some random event takes me down, which will inevitably happen. However, I will go with the knowledge that I have lived and loved and been loved for which I am thankful every day of my life.
      Ron

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  3. We change, the world changes, people change, I don't expect that to change.

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    1. David,
      Now that comment requires me to think. Thank you (smile).
      Ron

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  4. Ron ...... Your a daily comfort to a lot of people with your antidotes and pictures daily. I understand your feeling those days creep up on me frequently since my CHF diagnosis. They said 5 years in Jan 06 and Im still here kicking. �� you've got many many more years .....

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    1. Roger,
      Writing my blog is a daily comfort in my life. Knowing that others (like you) care that I exist gives me a reason for being. Someone cares. I also receive sustenance knowing that I add something positive, however small, to some others' lives. I am glad you're still kicking Roger after your CHF diagnosis. We both have many more years . . . .
      Ron

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  5. Ron after retreading the entry again this poem keep sticking in my head .....

    Bits and Pieces

    People. People important to you.

    People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and carelessness and move on.

    There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief

    And wonder why you ever came into contact with them.

    There are people who leave you and you breath a sigh of remorse,

    And wonder why they had to go away and leave such a gaping hole.

    Children leave their parents; friends leave friends.

    Acquaintances move on. People change homes.

    People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on.

    You think on the many who have moved into your hazy memory.

    You look on those present and wonder.

    I believe in God’s master plan in lives.

    He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other.

    You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who ever touch your life,

    And you are more because of it, and would be less if they had not touched you.

    Pray God that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder,

    And never question and never regret

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    1. Roger,
      I've always believed in a Master Plan for our lives even if I haven't believed in the "man-made" God. I know my life has a purpose.
      Ron

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  6. Ron,
    I read your entry probably less than 30 minutes after you posted. I immediately wanted to comment but, and this has been happening a lot lately, I was at a loss for words both spoken and in thought. I read the post and knew it was you but I kept reading me in your words. My circumstances are somewhat different but take those away and I feel just as you do. My good friend says this is the natural progression of life, aging and the realization that our time here on earth is short. You can have all the love in the world and all the money you need but if you don't have your physical and mental health of course life changes.
    You suffered many losses this past year, probably more than you have ever experienced in years past. Jay in VA's situation hit everyone who knew him or of him had a profound effect. It is natural to feel lost. However, you (and I) will find our purpose and reason to be here and all will be well. Also, it doesn't hurt to shed some activities, it gives us older people the opportunity to sleep later and take those delicious afternoon naps. Just an F Y I I haven't commented much lately because of my own personal dark place.
    Jack

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    1. Jack,
      Many years ago I read the quote by Henry David Thoreau "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." The "quiet desperation" quote stuck with me. I do believe most of us live with that emotion.
      This past year, after my leg injury I realize how fragile our health is. One slip on the ice in February totally threw my life out of balance. If I didn't have Bill, I would have been in a rehab facility for three months because I literally could not walk and care for myself.
      These days I have the threat of prostate cancer hanging over my head (and I have decided not to get further treatment if it has returned), my legs are weak (I don't know why but I'm not seeking medical advice on that condition) and I have other aging issues (heart and arthritis).
      Jay's loss brought to my attention again how dangerous and unfair this world can be in a flash of an instant. Most days I can focus and thrive on the positive aspects of my life (Bill, Pat, home, work and activities) but sometimes one little thing can throw me off balance. I'm not afraid of dying, only how I'm going to die. However, it does sadden me that what I leave behind matters nothing to any of my family.
      I'm tired of trying to please and accommodate others who do not respect or care for me. Those days are over.
      Jack, I'm sorry to hear that you're also experiencing your own personal dark place. We both understand what that is. But rest assured, I will continue to write this blog as long as I can, even if I become very ill. But I have to be honest with you, when I go I wish to go as my cousin Randy went, in his sleep. He was healthy one day, went to sleep and never woke up. That's the way I want to go. Then all my worries, hurts, concerns and regrets will be at an end. It's just now as I am alive and fully aware of everything that sometimes a great sadness overcomes me. Thankfully yesterday was the low point. I'm rising above that now.
      Thank you for your comment Jack. I often think of you and was wondering how you were doing.
      Ron

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  7. This is a powerful blog post, Ron, and I've read it several times. Perhaps it would sound disingenuous for me to say that I fully understand - - but I do. It's a sad fact of life that many of the people whom we've cared about the most are now gone. And it's just as upsetting (infuriating?) when those who are still living decide to abandon you solely because of your lifestyle. I have no doubt that you are far more virtuous than those who so harshly judge you.

    You're one of the most refreshingly honest people I know. You speak openly about everything and you speak the truth. That is a threatening and unnerving virtue for many people to contend with. You and I are similar, but I think you're more honest than myself. I still have a habit of slightly holding back (a fear of offending others). Much like you, I have a large collection of photos and many other sentimental things that no one else will care about when I'm gone. Perhaps that's why I want to write my memoir - - it will at least be some tangible evidence that I existed. Also, writing in my blog is a great emotional outlet for me.

    Life sure as hell is never easy, and things get worse as we grow older. At least you have a good life and have Bill and friends who still care. That's something to be thankful for. I feel isolated at times.....and I have many regrets about many things, but I'm at peace with myself. I hope this comment doesn't sound too depressing. I'm in a melancholy mood and your words have hit home.
    Take care - Jon

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    1. Jon,
      Written from the heart, as you know. I cannot be anything other than what I am, an imperfect human being who is trying to survive and love and be loved.
      You know me well Jon. I've always been honest, often to my detriment but I know no other way to be. I despise hypocrisy. I've always identified with the little boy who bravely said "The king has no clothes!" That's me to a T.
      Life isn't easy. It is literally a game of survival. But I do know I'm luckier than most in that I have had Bill as my constant support for most of my adult life. And now I have Pat. My cup runneth over (as they say in the Bible). But I am saddened by the loss of so many of my friends that sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
      Perhaps one of the reasons I like you and your blog so much is that we have so much in common. Of course we have many differences too (you're way more talented than I am in many fields) but you have a good soul Jon. We both seek the same thing, peace and contentment.

      Usually my days are filled with anticipation and joy. But sometimes the Black Dog arrives at my doorstep demanding to be let in. I don't let him in but there he is, sitting on my doorstep, his large presence blocking my view of life. Not to overuse this metaphor, he is gone this morning. But he will be back. And that's when I feel like I'm hanging on with my fingertips on the edge of a cliff.

      I see news reports of Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives and feel ashamed that I am depressed with all that I have in life. But it does happen. That black curtain descends and I feel closed in with no way out. One day I will go to sleep never to awake. I am consoled in the fact that when that day happens I will not be aware of all that I have accumulated in life, the photos, the mementos, the memories, will be gone forever. But while I am alive, I am saddened by that fact. But life goes on (another tired old cliche) and (here we go) one day at a time. Today the sun is out. Bill is in a good mood. Pat is happy. I have activities to do today. One more day of a good, long life.
      Ron

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    2. Thanks for your beautiful response, Ron. I don't want to burden you with another long comment - but I can assure you that I understand. Keep the Black Dog at bay, and remember that there are people who care and love you.

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    3. Thank you Jon. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate reassurances that there are people who care for me. I will say the same back to you Jon, there are many people who care for you and love you.

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  8. Ron,

    I am glad to see in the comments you are feeling somewhat better than when you wrote your post. These changes and losses go with the territory, if we are blessed with long life, then the longer we are here, the more losses and change we will see. Perhaps in a way our world shrinks, but maybe that is a pruning process that refines us and makes us appreciate and understand the importance of what we have. It isn't the quantity, it's the quality.

    I care about people, but not so much about if they care for me. I think when you care, that will take care of itself. I don't worry much about possessions, I saw where possessions go when my parents died. My parents, like many others, have passed away, but I accept that as the natural order of things. We either have our losses or we are someone else's lose. You stated you have a small group of friends who have stood by you and I think that is really true of us all, we have the ones when our warts pop out that stay and those are to be treasured.

    As for you journals and photos, you should see if a historical society will take them upon your death for their library. These are historical documents that someone will find interesting in the future, if this world still has a future.

    I see in a comment someone was reminded of a poem. I was reminded of a poem I wrote in 2001 after I was forced out of my job. I print it below.

    CITYSCAPE


    I am a triangular building

    No longer foursquare.
    When they took down that side
    They removed a retaining wall.

    I am an old multi-height building
    With stored, up the stair,
    Piled and labeled in the

    Attic, all angers I recall.
    If the indifferent modern builders
    Place more boxes there,

    The supports won’t bear the
    Stress and the upper floor will fall.
    Crumpled cinder blocks in weedy lots,

    Rusty beams laid bare,
    Unwanted property
    Latest victim of the wrecking ball.

    I am a triangular building,
    Cracks everywhere,
    Chips in my foundation

    And suspicions dust my hall.

    2001

    Lar

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    1. Lar, my longtime friend who knows me so well. You are my oldest friend Lar and not just in your physical years but from the time we have known each other when you outed me in our third grade class from plagiarizing a Scrooge McDuck comic book story into a book report in Miss Ezra's third grade class. I had totally forgotten this first time we met (1951). You feared that I would beat you up at recess. But when you told me I approached you at recess and said "You have Scrooge McDuck comic books?" and thus started one of the most wonderful activities of my pre-adolescence, trading comic books with you, I told you "That sounds like me." And thus we began our lifelong friendship, with a few interruptions in between. I may not talk to you everyday but believe me Lar, knowing that I can always contact you anytime and feel be welcomed by you is one of the pillars of my life now. Thank you always for your friendship Lar.
      Ron

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  9. Just want to say, I've been there (and probably will be again). I'd like you to consider how many people you have touched with your blog. We've never met, but I read your blog and find gems that help me through this life. You retained such a good core through all the troubles in your life. You met nonacceptance with a renewed sense of who you are and what you wanted your life to be. You needed to let go of what people thought of you and live the life you know you wanted. What a great accomplishment! No everyone has the courage. I know it seems lonely at times, but maybe those people don't really have a place in your life anymore. From what I can read, you took what they had to teach and you incorporated into your life. Maybe they are not needed anymore. Rejoice. One more thing, all those people you helped in finding graves of loved ones and relatives - I am sure they are eternally grateful. You gave them a closure or a lead to where they came from. You gave freely of your time and a self-centered person would not do that. Maybe the something big coming is a new beginning for you - an expansion of your writing - reaching out to a new generation who needs the help. Maybe it's not the Black Dog but a yellow puppy, full of wonder and curiosity. I thank you for your writing - you've helped me immensely even though I've never said it. Wrestle with your demons. Come out on the other side full of wisdom and hope.

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    1. Iberostar,
      Thank you so much for your words of support and encouragement. Sometimes I feel I am in a vacuum. It is always heartening to hear that my some of my blog musings and tangents have helped some. I read carefully your words of wisdom and agree that maybe something "big" is coming and there is a new beginning for me, this last phase of my life.
      Thank you again for your kind and generous words.
      Ron

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  10. Ron

    What a powerful blog an earlier reader wrote. And it brought tears to my eyes. You have a knack of expressing clearly the human condition. Thoughts and feelings we all seem to possess - maybe in slightly different scenarios. I loved the comments given here - and your responses to them. This post has resulted in wonderful short but poignant expressions of love, support, friendship - all, thoughtful reflections from the way you speak to us from the heart. And I, like one of your other readers, want to thank you for writing your blog which I enjoy when either simply entertaining or thought provoking and moreso.

    Pat

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    1. Pat,
      I cannot thank you enough for your support, love and friendship. You are the friend I have been looking for all my life. It took a long time but now you are here, occupying that part of my life that was empty for so long. Thank you Pat for being you.
      Ron

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  11. I found your blog a few months ago when I googled 'thrift stores in Rehoboth' and I've been reading ever since. I have no words of wisdom - I don't know what to say. But I want to let you know how much I enjoy your blog - and how inspiring I find your words! And that you make a difference in the blogosphere:) Sending good thoughts your way...

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    1. Thank you so much mags for your words of encouragement and support. I am accepting all good thoughts sent my way!!!

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  12. The following is a comment from another blog follower that he was unable to post to my blog but that I wanted to share with my blogRon,

    I tried with no success to post on your entry. After rereading it twice this poem came to mind. I understand where your coming from and again Cher came to mind from the movie Moonstruck "snap out of it." which is what I tell myself when he descends upon me.

    Bits and Pieces

    People. People important to you.

    People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and carelessness and move on.

    There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief

    And wonder why you ever came into contact with them.

    There are people who leave you and you breath a sigh of remorse,

    And wonder why they had to go away and leave such a gaping hole.

    Children leave their parents; friends leave friends.

    Acquaintances move on. People change homes.

    People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on.

    You think on the many who have moved into your hazy memory.

    You look on those present and wonder.

    I believe in God’s master plan in lives.

    He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other.

    You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who ever touch your life,

    And you are more because of it, and would be less if they had not touched you.

    Pray God that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder,

    And never question and never regret



    Roger

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    1. Roger,
      Well said. Thank you!
      Ron

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  13. I was not aware Mr. Bill is 87yo; I think of him younger
    I was not aware too you gave up Find a Grave; I suppose the joy is passed.

    You write marvelous introspective posts.

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