You know what, I’ve had enough of moaning about Tom. And I bet you’ve had enough of hearing it. He goes. He doesn’t go. He never goes when I tell him to. He’s halfway out the door when I beg him to stay. I’ve had it. Let him go or not. I don’t care any more (like he keeps saying he doesn’t). After this last (I’ll try!) piece about him, how’s about you and me, we just let him fade away. Disappear into the proverbial sunset. We’ll wish him well. From time to time we may hear from him But...
I decided that, rather than recount for you some of the finer points of our verbal sparrings, I would illustrate just one of the more, I say ‘duplicitous’/’cruel’, he would say ‘clever’/’amusing’, wranglings of recent weeks.
The one that, very sadly, involves a holy (T. bought it in a Church shop!) poster of the Blessèd Virgin Mary.
It goes like this: sometimes – if I’ve got any energy (and as I said above, if I have, it’s usually the result of anger) - I’ll try and give as good as I get. But it’s exhausting (maybe he remembers a time I almost invited a good debate but now it’s just resentment/belligerence on his part and hardly ever “interesting”) and often I feel ill –giddy – as a consquence. And my brain stops working. So, I’ll put on a so-what air and pretend I’ve got plans anyway – it’ll be better without him.
And a couple of times I actually did make plans as to how I would utilize the “spare” (once he’s gone) bedroom. And the other week I told him.
The first, if I was well enough I’d still like (but only in theory!): I’d open a women’s only poker den. And the first person I’d invite to join would be a best friend of his who I’ve got on with when we’ve met and lives nearby! Hah! He wasn’t amused by that one. Think he took it seriously!
I love poker and at one time planned to call this blog “Poodles, Poker and Penance”, because I meant to play so much more than I do. I think it’s the perfect remedy for cognitive dysfunction, it so livens the brain. And it’s social. Not a word to say against it (never bet money at home nor on the “Tables” but, in moderation and with a healthy bank roll [i.e. no one will suffer too much if you lose] the Catholic Church sees nothing wrong with gambling* and so, of course, neither do I).
The trouble for me now is that I’ve lost my main “Heads-up” opponent: Tom. He just won’t stay up to play any more (or he’s out). I have to rely on brother Blob coming to dinner (T. cooking) and that’s not often. But it’s fun when he does and we usually play a good “mean” game (I taught Blob!) with as much bluffing as we can possibly get away with (“tight agressive” they call Tom and me!). And we all agree that whatever is said at the table (ours) stays at the table. No hard feelings! See, good sportsmanship! Great game. I love poker. More later!
So Tom took that plan seriously.
But not half as seriously as he took the second plan. Because for that one I have to be alone – and that’s what he’s planning or at least anticipating. And that hurts because I know he’s probably right. But it seems pathetic which means he thinks I’m pathetic, so I’m sort-of embarrassed, which I shouldn’t be since it’s a beautiful plan. Then I have to remind him again: there’s a difference between humility and humiliated.
And there certainly is. And I thank God (which is being humble) for my knowing that.
My second plan was to turn the room into a Marian shrine. Dedicated to our perfect Mother in Heaven, Mary. You know the kind of thing: Renaissance paintings covering the walls; statues; candles; incense, and lots of flowers. A kind-of grotto filled with light and peace and a sacred aroma.
I love that idea. Tom said he liked it too. He would “enjoy being in it” when he came to stay, which would be “often”!
Yes, well, I didn’t mention it more than a couple of times. I thought it was forgotten (I wasn’t going to invite mockery, or “convince” him I was fine about his leaving). And a few weeks went by. We were heading for Christmas. Then: “Oh,” Tom blurts out one day, “I’d better get down to the Church bookshop and get cards, an Advent Calendar...” (and then, cruel blow) “... and I thought I’d get a big poster of the Virgin Mary, you know to put on the wall there”, he waved his arm into his room.
And that was it. More pain. I was horribly confused and torn. At first I actually believed it was for him, just for half a second. And I think I started to smile. But almost at the same time, I remembered and knew what he was thinking, and was struck through the heart: he wanted to start preparing the shrine, in readiness for his departure. His absence. My physical (but for dear Lucy) aloneness. I shrieked.
And he laughed.
And I said, “No, no, no!” I said “No” to Mother Mary and what I knew was truly good and beautiful. He just thought I was gullible and kept laughing.
And went to “the shop”, even visited the Chapel with one of the sisters, and came back with a pile of treasures and wanted me to be grateful and pleased.
But, hidden at first, he showed me later, was a fabulous poster...
I leave the rest to you, friends!
* Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) # 2413
P.S. I really would welcome your comments. But before you all rush to defend Tom and push him out the door, let me just say: I’m not a bad person, or selfish or spoiled and objectively, I see what you see – looking in. He should go, and with love, I know it.
It’s just that being taken over by progressive MS means, by definition, beng subjective: needy; demanding; scared; moody; angry, and sometimes, irrational. It’s hard to think clearly when all you can feel is fatigue and pain.
The best thing would be to find a live-in companion-carer. They could have the room. But that would have been easier at the old place – more central and close to one of the University of London’s colleges (my Alma Mater!). Here is not much good for anyone (including poor Tom) and, besides, I’m on benefits and Social Services don’t provide them.
Are you thinking Care Homes/Nursing Homes?
Oh, all right I’ll get an air-purifier (perfume allergy) and a load of carers. Thank you. I got there!