Two weeks have passed since I posted anything. Much has happened, everywhere, and here in these backwoods, I have been tromping through the dark tunnels of my mind and walking outside in the light, in short, going “every which way.” The effort of getting through winter is getting up each day wondering if I am going to make it through to the first hint of spring.
I have been looking for work. I am two days away from getting my social security check. It is already claimed by the phone company, the car insurance company, the taxes I have to pay out of state, the back taxes I must pay in this state, and what else? I know there is something else. Oh yes, the bank car loan! Within three days of getting my check, I will be back to where I have been most of the time since mid-November, no longer employed due to my refusal to vaccinate for the flu. Broke. It is really getting old, tripping along the edge of the abyss. I have been depressed, and the physician I went to see at the Choctaw Nation a week ago confirmed it. This is why I ordinarily never go to the doctor. They never tell me anything I do not already know. I went, primarily, so I could ask for a prescription of the pills that seem to help, a “placebo.” Yes, well, they kind of help, even if it is all in my mind. As it turns out, everything is in my mind. That is part of the problem, if indeed any problem actually exists.
I am trying to spend less time on Face Book, or the Internet. I carry wood on to the porch, as it has been frigid for several days now, and muse at how quickly I am going through the woodpile. When it warms up these next few days, I will be going down into the woods to retrieve the logs left over from when Cody came out and cut up the trees he felled a year ago. We did not get all the wood carried up to the road that day, so fortunately, there is still some left for me haul out to the road to split and stack. As I am a great procrastinator, as well as an addict to going online, doing the wood thing is a chore I have to make myself do. The wood is free, whereas propane is not. Amazing how within a year’s time I have gone from feeling on top of the world to wondering if I even want to be here. Ebb and flow, up and down, in and out, within and without, this life is a constant that will keep on going, with or without me. Why do I wonder, when I wake up in my sleep and feel the tears streaming out of my eyes, realizing I weep as I sleep? All I have to do is look around.
I did go on Face Book for a little while. I read about Aaron Swartz, about how the government stomped on him. His life and recent death sums up for me how futile life appears to me a lot of the time. He was a pure soul, in his exploration of the truth. They punished him for caring about the truth. Maybe those of us who are even aware of him (and I admit, I did not know who he was until I saw several posts about him) will find some renewed faith that some people who speak the truth actually do exist. They may not be here for long, but they may inspire change.
My life seems small when I think about somebody like Aaron. He jumped in without a life jacket, swam against the current of greed and what is wrong with this world. He spoke out and took action. I feel as though I spend much of my life wondering why I cannot seem to get a handle on anything. I am not much use to myself or anybody else! I am glad I learned of Aaron Swartz. He inspires me to do better.
I drove 165 miles round trip last week, two days in a row, just to see about a job. The first trip was for an interview. While “interviewing,” the other person helping run the office came in to talk with her office mate about how she could not find anyone to cover the next all-night shift that was due to happen the next day, Friday. After listening to the two of them try to figure out who to get for the 8-hour shift, sitting with an elderly woman in the hospital, I said, “It sounds like you need me. I will do it, if you wish.” This was after the interviewer had already told me that it would probably be another two weeks before she would know if she could hire me, as she had a lot more interviews to do. With no shame, I said I was so desperate to make a few dollars, I would be willing to drive the miles to cover the shift. She found the packet of papers I would need to sign as part of the hiring process. Within twenty minutes, I read and signed everything. I got the information I would need regarding the client and then went back home, thinking how crazy I am to drive so many miles just to earn a few dollars.
The next evening, I was a half hour early. The patient was sleeping, and I watched her as she shifted her frail body. I wondered how she was faring. Later, she woke up and acted as though I was not present. She fell back asleep and I read some periodical that was all about the Hollywood world. She woke up again, and this time I stood up and offered her some fresh ice water I had gotten. At first, she waved me away and then changed her mind. She reached out for the mug. That felt like a success! I sat back down and she gradually went back to sleep. A couple of hours went by and she woke up again, and I asked, as she ran her fingers through her hair, if she would like a comb. I found a comb and she took it, combing her hair slowly. Told she did not talk, I was surprised, upon offering her a second pillow, when she spelled out, aloud, “p-i-l-l-o-w.” She held her hand in front of her face. I thought, “Is she wanting a mirror?” She said, “Dear.” Then she said, “draw.” “D-r-a-w,” she said. I went into the bathroom and pulled down some paper towel, then found my pen in my purse and gave them to her, my Almanac I had brought to read, under the paper for support. She drew a perfect oval shape and added a slender neck at the bottom. Then she drew a second oval within the larger oval, and said, “Mirror.” Oh, of course, a mirror is what she wanted. The nurse came in the room. I told her we needed a mirror. After looking in all the drawers in the room, the nurse left, saying she would find a mirror. We sat there, and the patient repeated, “Mirror,” to which I responded, “The nurse is bringing us a mirror as soon as she finds one.” Ten or fifteen minutes passed. Suddenly the nurse appeared, pushing a table like the one already in the room. She transferred everything off the table that had been in the room to the new table. Then she pushed it across the bed so that the table was in front of the patient. Opening the draw at the base of the tabletop, she flipped up a mirror and adjusted it so the patient could see herself. Presto, a mirror! The patient looked at herself. I got the new brush out of the packaging (it was with the comb I found in the bathroom) and asked if she would like me to brush her hair. She did not wave me away, so I gently brushed her hair, telling her how lovely it is, with its natural wave. She was satisfied. I was delighted. I said, “I was told you could not speak. But you are talking now, and that is so great! You must be feeling better.” She said, “Ninety-five too old.” I said, “So you will be 95 on your next birthday?” She said, “September 26, 2013.” She corrected herself, “June 26, 2013.” I said, “Oh, so you were born June 26, 1918?” She nodded. I asked her what her name is. She told me. I asked her what her maiden name was. She told me the same name. I said, “Well, it has been a while since you thought of your maiden name.” She accepted my offer of some more water, this time holding the mug herself and taking several sips. She went back to sleep, and when the shift change started happening at 6:30 a.m., she woke up. The last hour I was with her, someone brought her a tray of food. She ate, feeding herself, and allowed me to place a paper towel across her chest to catch any crumbs. She drank all of her juice, and pushed aside the coffee saying, “Too hot.” She drank part of the shake that contained many supplements, then pushed the tray away, indicating she was finished eating. I brought her a damp washcloth and she wiped her hands and mouth. By this time, it was time for me to go. I offered her my hand and she let me hold hers for a moment as I said, “It was so good to meet you, and now I must go. I don’t know when or if I will see you again, but I am glad you are talking, and I hope all will go well for you. Bye now.” Her family was due to come this morning, and they would take her to a nursing facility. She did not necessarily know this, and as I left, my heart went out to her. Usually, when a frail person goes to a nursing home, it is not for long. The frail one leaves, if she or he gives up.
Life is short, or long, depending on how one feels at the time. Life is demanding, and can be intense, and sometimes it is a huge challenge to stay with it. Some leave too soon, in their youth, and some ride it out into old age. As I drove home those 80-plus miles that morning, I was not aware of the departure of Aaron Swartz the night before. I was aware of the overcast day that was due to turn into icy rain by the evening, and how grateful I was to have stayed up all night with a frail little old lady who made a comeback during the night. I was also grateful for the bed I fell into when I got home.
The rain poured down for hours that evening. It turned to ice later on, albeit not as heavy as two weeks earlier. I had plenty of wood on the porch, and I got my frigid cabin back to a bearable temperature within an hour. The dogs wanted to come inside, so I let them in. The cats were glad to be inside, as well. The next day, Sunday, the hours went by with the heating of water for dishes, washing the sink full of dishes I had left on Friday. I spent the day stoking the fire and just sitting around, wondering what the next week might bring. Thus far, it has been cold and overcast. My mind is still going “every which way,” and when tomorrow comes, after some deep sleep, I hope to know an improved state of mind.
It is good to feel like writing again, despite the “every-which-way” I go.