TWITTER: @sirbacon123

19 April 2010

Visiting Ours

Hi and Thanks.
Those three words were on the subject line of a recent email I received from a loyal reader.
On the surface, it looked a whole lot like so many of the other incredible emails of support I have received since I started writing this blog nearly four months ago.
But there was something inside that was not so ordinary.
The note, from a wonderful 26-year old with her entire life in front of her, spoke about how she recently moved back in with mom and dad because her paid internship had ended and she couldn’t get a full-time job.
She was working two jobs and was still not able to pay the rent to live on her own.  
She said that many of her friends are going through similar troubles and that it's hard not to get bogged down in the negative.
I hear you sister.
She said that my blog inspired her to restart her own blog in “an attempt to express some of my feelings about this new world I’m entering.”
That’s where many notes I have received just like it, ended.
But not hers.
She said she probably wouldn’t have written to me if it wasn’t the posts about my mom.
Like my mom, her uncle struggled with Bipolar Disorder until he lost his battle with it.
Fortunately my mom is still fighting.
And I’m glad to say, she is fighting hard.
After three weeks, she is out of the hospital and has moved into a temporary nursing facility until she transitions back to her full-time assisted living home.
Saturday I went to visit her.
Now based on our daily phone conversations, where I barely get a word in, I had a pretty good idea of what the visit was going to be like.
And it didn’t disappoint.
There were A LOT of stories that I had heard A LOT of times before.
Sometimes, in my own twisted way of coping, I think I enjoy some of "the greatest hits", knowing the punch line is moments away.
Then when the payoff comes, I get a nice chuckle in my head.  
I can only imagine what is going on in hers.
Sometimes, I just can't take it anymore.
But there was something a little different about this visit.
Instead of getting frustrated, I just let her go wild.  For over an hour.
And wild it was.
She asked if I still eat a big bowl of cereal every morning.   Which I don't.  Too many carbs.
Somehow she transitioned my answer into...
...our family friend Mike used to eat a bowl twice the size of yours... then he would molest his daughter and his wife was a chain smoker and one day the doctor pulled a piece of silver from the cigarette out of her lung.
Holy right turn Batman.
I told her my son’s baseball team won their game earlier in the day.
Somehow that turned into... time she was seduced by a hall-of-fame pitcher in the prime of his pitching career, but my mom turned him down because “what would have happened if I hurt you in bed.”
She told me that the Mafia still runs everything in the world.
That became...
...she was on a trip through the Panama Canal (40+ years ago) and the company that owned the boat had a name with the same first four letters of a company that the Mafia used for...
...honestly, I missed the end of that story.   Sorry.

She told me that Joy Behar is on fire.
She talked about her Rum Cake recipe, again.
She talked about my college graduation party, 21 YEARS AGO.
She talked about the necklace her father sent her when she was 19.
She talked about the shoes she was wearing are 40 years old.
She talked about Satchel Paige & Rupert Murdoch & Frank Sinatra.

If you were there, you would’ve loved it.
The stories she was telling are amazing and ALL TRUE.  She’s lived an incredible life.
But the sad fact is, I’ve heard these stories before.  

MANY times before.

Normally I’m counting the minutes until my departure, but there was something different about this visit.
Something special.
Maybe it was that I knew THIS manic episode was clearly coming to an end and these stories were nothing more than an 80-year old woman driving down memory lane. 
Or maybe it was that I finally accepted that she is just a sweet old lady, who was dealt a bad deck of cards.
Or maybe it was the words of the “Hi and Thanks” email bellowing through my head:
  • “(Bipolar) is a horrible, horrible misunderstood disease.  I wanted to let you know that you’re doing the right things.  Bipolar disorder, much like Alzheimer’s, can be just as hard on the people around the sufferer.   There’s no shame in that and when you share your stories, you make a misunderstood disease a little more accessible.”
As I left the facility, my mom thanked me for a great visit, even though she was the one who did all the visiting.
I said Goodbye and Thanks, and headed home.

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