by Cindy Hasz
American Reporter Correspondent
San Diego, Calif.
February 3, 03
DELIVER US FROM THE OMINOUS
SAN DIEGO -- Six feet tall and impending doom. What would it be like to live with that every day? I wondered that as I sat with my elder friend today. Her husband is loosing touch mentally.
That is scary enough, but he is also starting to careen around the house where he once was steady on his feet.
She doesn't have the ability to cope with any of his disasters.
He is a big man and in the habit of moving quickly. The way he starts and stops now, he reminds me of a new driver in a stick shift. The tall, thin body bucks its way around the house, barely negotiating corners, steps, and objects in the way, which he can't see well anymore. His cane is little help, alaways seeming to arrive on the scene just a little too late to make a difference.
If he escapes without an actual fall, he makes a joke to dissipate the tension - and then he's off again at a rapid clip until the next close call.
And she has anxiety disorder. Sometimes life is way past ironic, and can be cruel, like living with a hemophiliac who liked to play with knives. She quite rightly is always preparing for the worst.
He is coming down with dementia, slowly losing his mind. But he isn't half as miserable as she is. I wonder which malady I'd rather have, an addled brain with a sunny disposition, or a sharp mind with an obsessive attraction to the morbid.
Her hypervigilant sense of the terror lurks just beneath the surface of every situation and renders her mildly hysterical at the drop of a hat. I empathize with her deeply. She reminds me of that part of me I keep locked up in the closet - the part that first imagines the worst and then prepares for the shock.
She lives on Valium now, while he thrives on popcorn and candy. She worries herself sick that he will choke on the popcorn, while he doesn't worry about much of anything except that she will kill him before his Parkinson's does.
I want more than anything to be able to take care of them; move them into my own home, cook for them and watch tv with them. I'd hold her when she needs holding and give him plenty to laugh about. I'd get him away from her constant badgering about his health, to revel in things non-ominous.
But that's not going to happen. They will stay where they are, in the land of imminent health care meltdowns, facing the gauntlet of afflictions that face the aging.
She will worry herself sick and take more and more drugs to keep from screaming. He will deny tragedy with stubborn joviality. He may even find his way out by losing touch with reality.
That's not always such a bad thing.