My best friend is 78. He lives around the corner and we share conversation on a daily basis. We also share a love for photography and I frequently drive us to nearby parks and recreation areas to search out objects to photograph. Yesterday we went out to Dinah’s Landing, a boat access ramp at the end of a long road to nowhere but there. Fred tried out some timed photographic challenges, using special lenses and long pauses between photos. He’s fascinating to watch, so into the process. I snap away at anything that amuses me, a momentary photographer, looking for inspiration in waves, fishermen sitting on buckets, and children throwing rocks into the river.
Yesterday a four year old little girl (estimated age) and her dad spent about an hour trying to fish and then resorting to entertain of the most wonderful sort. She would fill a small beach-sand bucket with rocks from the parking lot then walk to the end of the pier (boat loading / retrieving dock) and throw them in the water, one by one. She was quite proud of her process. She refilled the bucket at least 5 times and I must say, her father was very lenient.
He told me about their recent kayak trip. They were hit, suddenly, by 2 foot waves, something that rarely happens in the river and it turned the kayak over. They were in water less than two feet deep, so everyone was safe. He said she panicked until she realized she could stand up and then the adventure resumed with happy smiles and loads of fun.
What a nice dad, I couldn’t help but think. He was an older man, so one can speculate many stories about the kid. Second or third marriage? Last kid in a line of more? I thought he was the grandfather, then heard her call him “Daddy”, so that describes his look. Whatever the circumstances, he was a pleasant, complacent man, taking care to allow her to entertain herself and he didn’t pressure her to do anything. Maybe it’s a sad divorce case where he gets her on the weekend? I prefer to think they have special time together on Sunday afternoon and they all live in bliss in a regular family setting. Why not? I can day dream and have it turn out any way I want.
Fred was oblivious to the little girl and her dad. So intent upon taking photos in a certain slow shutter speed way. At one point his camera “froze up” and I told him it might be a case of the memory card being slow to load with the new photo and he agreed that could be the case. He rebooted his considerable camera and all worked properly again.
I care so much for this friend. We’ve had many adventures over the last 10 years. We met at the dog park, around 2009, probably in the fall when the park first opened. He had Dewey, the beagle, my friend Al (another dear friend who died last year) had Scooter, a mixed breed brute of a dog, a wonderful dog but very powerfully built, and I had Linus and Thompson, the Jack Russells, and Roxanne the Shar-Pei/Rottweiler mix. We became fast friends, spending at least an hour each day together on the park bench, watching the dogs run around together. I miss that camaraderie.
Al confessed his many sins to me as we sat under the oak tree. Complicated stories of his 5 wives and how he tried to save them from themselves. His current wife, 20 years his junior, needed more saving than many … he said she was Catholic and wouldn’t sleep with him until he married her and he found her so appealing, he married her. He confessed that he’d neglected his past wives, often taking 2-3 jobs in what he thought was a well-intentioned path to financial security. Apparently that meant not enough quality time with the wives and the wives strayed. He never blamed them for leaving him, such was his demeanor.
But what a fascinating man he was. As I’ve said, he was a hard working guy. He was a in the Marines, I believe. He told me that he once burned his house down, on purpose, for insurance money. He eventually became a Catholic, like his wife, and I believe the only reason he did it was so he’d have a person, besides me, to confess to each week. He became very ill the last year of his life, macular degeneration rendered him almost completely blind and his heart failed him. A huge bulk of a man, he was at least 6’6″ and barrel chested. Had huge mitts for hands… but he was as gentle as can be.
His wife was diagnosed with MS about 10 years ago. They were living on his social security and waiting for her disability to go through, it took 2.5 years, similar to what we’re going through, and when she received her back pay, they bought a van, and fixed various problems with their house. He was scared to death that she’d fritter and waste the money so he kept it from her. She wanted things like a new bed and not unreasonable wants — this is where his stubbornness and lack of understanding came in. They’d, believe it or not, adopted a 3 year old with special needs, a grand-daughter. She’s probably around 12 now and I can’t help but wonder how Al’s wife is able to care for her as her MS has progressed to the foot dragging stage and she’ll be wheelchair bound eventually. What a miserable situation, I did not step in upon his death, seeing myself as someone the wife would cling to and I can’t be clung to right now. I’ve got my own problems to deal with, can’t take on someone new.
Sounds like I’m an awful person but the truth is, I’m not equipped with the skills or temperament to deal with more than one person at a time so R gets all my compassion and care taking for the time being. The special needs child is deaf, has spina bifida but is able to walk, is willful and was neglected and abused as a baby. It’s absolutely horrid. Al wanted to save the baby, as he did try to save any female in his life. I believe I was the only woman he ever met the didn’t need him, that just wanted to be his friend and he talked and talk tome each day.
This was back when R worked at developmental center and Mom was alive. What a different time that was. You don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone. Those days we had enough money to live on, I enjoyed cooking for Mom and R, and the boys were cute little toddlers, spreading joy through every day. Jane dropped them off almost every day, they were here all the time, especially O, as Jane would care for newborn E while O came here to play and to be loved by me, Mom and R. What a happy time it was too. Mom was still a viable human, laughing and witty and full of wonder at this great-grandson she witnessed daily. Also, C4 was ok then. In love with J who at the time was all promise and no dysfunction, that was to come years later, after Mom died.
What a complicated time it has been. I haven’t even scratched the surface of the relationships I’ve had and the family I’ve nurtured.
Now I’m just nervous for Fred, to bring the conversation around full circle. Back to my original thoughts. Bob just called, we pick Fred up at 6, which means me picking up Bob at 4:45 so I can get there early. In Bob-driving-time, a 20 minute drive must take an hour or more.
People start blogs to inspire “people who look like me” and other reasons. I started this blog to mind-dump and get my head straight each day. It’s working. I can dump all the spinning emotional propaganda and the mind-numbing worries, then dump the thoughts I have and it relaxes me — sometimes. Other times I just sends me on a spiral, wondering when the VA will release R’s compensation for his military rape, when Individual Employability will kick in as he cannot hold a job, something attested to and proven by two, count them two, separate C&P exams (he is not a malingerer, proven and documented) and then social security compensation… disability.
I don’t know but I realized last night that I’ll most likely lose my benefits when R receives his. We’ll have to buy health insurance and prescription drug coverage and lose the $700 a month I receive. Also the cell phone and the Medicaid, which means dental coverage. It spurred me onto getting my teeth cleaned and the subsequent 2 cavities filled this month. I imagine my insurance will be insanely expensive, I have no idea what part of R’s compensation is taxable, is reportable, is whatever … I’ll rely on attorney to let us know all of that. I know we’ll have too much $$ for me to get disability, I think I know that.
I just don’t want to get slammed after thinking we can get my benefits for like a year or something and then we have to repay them. I know someone that happened to. Not going to happen to me, I’m going to disability office as soon as we know something. Going to hedge our bets with knowledge on the day of!
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