Sunday, January 20, 2019
My uncle has come to stay with us for a while to further recover from a head injury he suffered several weeks ago after a fall. He's been in a rehab facility in the deep dark valley, and yesterday I went to pick him up. I'd like to say that it all went smoothly, that the medical system worked well, that all family members participated, that I never once lost my cool or spoke in the tone of voice I have acquired, somehow, despite myself, that lies somewhere between Stepford Caregiver cheerful and a dripping condescension. I'd like to say that getting lost in the facility and finding myself for a few minutes wandering through several rooms filled with disabled adults who milled about muttering or sat staring and nodding was at the very least, familiar. Except that the medical system did not work well, all family members have not participated, I lost my cool a couple of times, and my tone of voice didn't just drip but splattered with irritation. And my wander through the halls of adult institutionalization resulted in a bout of sadness about nine hours later that I told Carl was something that just happens, sometimes, this wave of emotion that is best dealt with by assuming a kind of dead man's float, the better to not be drowned. The morning light brought so much relief it felt nearly funny, and I made blueberry muffins that I ate with the three men (one old, one in the middle and one young), along with pancetta that I scrambled with eggs. I cut up two blood oranges, and we ripped the flesh from the rind.
As the hours tick by and the caregiving continues, I think of self-regard, of self-care, of the illusion of the self.
Question: What do you have to look out for?
Resentment. If I could give it a shape, it'd be the infinity symbol or something impossible. If I could give it a color, I think of something burnt red. Like the gray of embers with bursts of light. The word implacable. Women. Keeping our mouths shut. Resentment is not to be mistaken for anger which is the open mouth or red lips drawn into a smile.