Old Woman to Duchess

The Duchess asks, What’s up, Old Woman?

I need to explain why life has been hard to live lately. Why I have not had time or energy to post.

Here’s the bad stuff:

We had an unpleasant letter from Jerry’s brother, Bert. It was hostile and incoherent. We are not sure why he wrote it. The body of the letter was typed, and we are sure he didn’t type it himself. Some of it was written in scrawling, almost illegible handwriting. We hear from a friend who keeps in touch with him that he is not doing well. He is in and out of hospitals. Jerry has tried to call him but he doesn’t want to talk to Jerry. We worry that he is being taken advantage of by people who want to get money from him and are not really concerned with his health and welfare. Jerry is hurt by his hostility.

Then there is the computer disaster. While my son (the recently divorced one) was using my computer – perhaps on some questionable site – it caught a virus and I lost a hard drive and a lot of files. The ones I miss the most are all the pictures I took after September. Jerry had backed up everything before that.

And there is Jerry’s face. He is having fluorouracil treatments for skin cancer. So, wearing a rubber glove, I have to smear a poisonous cream on his scalp (his bald head), brow, cheeks and nose. It kills cells: cancer cells first, then the outer skin layer. He is beginning to look like hamburger. I am told that women have this treatment in order to make their skin look younger. They must be crazy.

I grieve for my divorced son’s pain. He misses his children terribly. The wife who divorced him is the only woman he has ever loved, and he has loved her since he was 14 years old. He tells me, his eyes brimming with tears, that he can no longer think about his past life without hurting. She is in all of it.

I wake up in the morning worrying alternately about Ben and Bert. Then I remember that I can’t touch Jerry’s face because it is anointed with poison and is becoming sensitive and sore. We have 10 days of treatment left.

Though this may be the season to be jolly, it is also the season to be nervous and harassed with buying presents, putting up a Christmas tree, and all the other things that come at Christmas time that are stressful. Not to mention the cold, damp weather. I had the poodles clipped but the groomer cut them so close that now they have to wear little red coats when we walk them. They look really silly, though they don’t seem to mind the coats.

I am facing the fact that very soon I will have to have my cataracts “done.” I can barely see to drive at night, and I can no longer read small print.

But life goes on, and it’s not all bad.

Not much can be done about Bert. Jerry continues to call him and to call friends who may know how he is doing.

Ben, my divorced son, is staying with us and looking for work. He probably has a job. He is waiting for a background check to be completed. In the meantime he has signed up to take an English course at the local community college, and he is doing yard work here on the island, working out at the gym on the Indian reservation and reading voraciously. He is on a diet to lose weight and in general is heavily into self-improvement. He even washes dishes for me after dinner. When the job begins he will live in our condo in town. His children will be here for a few days at Christmas.

Because of the computer disaster I now have a new computer. This is something I have wanted for a long time. My old computer was too slow to edit movies from my camcorder. Jerry has installed a new hard drive in the old computer and as soon as we figure out how to get it to accept Wi-Fi we will give it to Ben to use for school. I hope he has learned his lesson about iffy sites.

Jerry and I are immersed in the 19th century. I call myself a 20thcentury woman, but in my head I often dwell in the 19th century. We are watching a series of Teaching Company lectures on Victorian England. We had read a biography of Queen Victoria’s life up to the time of Albert’s death. Now we are reading an account of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 by Simon Winchester, which really details colonial life in the late 19th century. On my Kindle I am reading Trollop’s “The Way We Live Now” and I am completely engrossed: carried out of present troubles as I follow the many iniquities of Augustus Melmotte and Sir Felix Carbury. The Kindle makes it difficult for me to skip ahead to see how things turn out, so I am actually reading every word. It’s a lot more fun that way. And I can make the print big enough so it’s easy to see.

I am looking forward to a visit from my other son and his wife next week. They will be here for Christmas, and all of us on this side of the Atlantic will dine at my grandson’s house on Christmas Day.

I count my blessings. Things could be worse.

So that’s about it, Duchess.

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18 Responses to Old Woman to Duchess

  1. rosie says:

    courage…christmas will soon be over…and then we can start struggling with everything the new year throws at us!

  2. That is such a lot to land on your plate all at once. Sending many good wishes your way.

  3. Rain says:

    It does seem those kind of times come in storms. I hope it soon will be lightening for you two. The only thing you can do about his brother is love him but release the results of this. He might have a mental derangement from the drugs and alcohol in his brain and he won’t ever be who he was where you then have to remember the person he was and understand this isn’t who he is now but that other person is still there under the weight.

  4. Tabor says:

    You are brave. So much to deal with. You cannot ease the pain of your son. He has to go through this himself and take it one day at a time. Make sure he doesn’t turn to artificial easing…but that is all. You have a bright new year and I an wishing you peace and energy during this time.

  5. Annie says:

    Your son may be in a lot of pain but he has his Mom to go home to and he appears to be doing all the right things under the circumstances. Except maybe the downloaded virus part. It’ll be hard but I think he will get through it, with some thanks to his Mom.

    Sorry to hear about the lost photos, how annoying!

    I hope Jerry’s awful treatment works in the end. And as for Bert, well, I can’t think of anything positive to say so I will just say Good luck and keep strong. Between his brother and his skin treatment Jerry must be having no picnic right now.

    I almost always have major Bah Humbug moments around Christmas, although I do manage to extract some enjoyment of it in the end. May you find some small moments of joy too.

    And thank you Duchess for asking 😉

  6. Marja-Leena says:

    Oh my, you do have more than your share of worries, all at once! I noticed you’ve been quiet, so yes, thanks Duchess for asking. Sending Jerry good wishes and a quick recovery! Wishing you continuing courage, humour and love in dealing with all this, and have a warm, peaceful Christmas with your family. May the New Year be brighter.

  7. wisewebwoman says:

    Sometimes it all seems more than we can bear and then gradually it lightens. Jerry’s skin will clear up, Bert will be Bert, and your son will find solace in his children and a new pathway to forge.
    You are very strong, Anne and those around you are lucky indeed.

  8. So much for you, Anne. Now that you’ve revealed strong identification with the 19th century, I think how much resilient they seem than us, their softer descendants. My wish for you is that old time strength will carry you through.

  9. Jean says:

    Oh gosh, what a lot to cope with at once – you must feel worn out. And poor Jerry, as Annie said, the prolonged, unpleasant treatment coming at the same time as worry over Bert must be hard to bear. I don’t need to say, do I, that your son’s chances of healing from the painful divorce and in time rebuilding a happy life are immeasurably increased by your loving support? Warmest best wishes to all.

  10. maria says:

    Oh my, what a time of it you had. I sure hope the end of the year will bring an end to the troubles for both you and Jerry – and will make life brighter for Ben, who, as others have already said, has your loving support, which must be a great solace for him in this difficult time.

    And, by the way, I found the same thing with my Kindle when I first got it – not being able to skip ahead and so having to read every word. 🙂

  11. Deborah says:

    Anne, there’s so much here to absorb, especially with the words you have just left on my blog filling up my mind. Thank you for all that you said,. It wasn’t a comment but a conversation, and I appreciate that very much.
    Two immediate reactions to this: why should you feel pressed to put up decorations and ‘do’ Christmas. Never mind answering the why, I can surely guess the answer. But I wish that, in your circumstances, you could just let it happen around you without having to struggle with it. You have so much to deal with, all of it the sort of stuff that is painful for the heart.
    All of these things are already hard to deal with, but the fatigue of age must make it so much harder to cope. It’s so difficult when worry cannot be accompanied by any useful action, which, by the sound of it, is pretty much what’s happening with Bert.
    You can’t fix your son’s broken heart (and oh, we never get over the instinct to do that for our children) but you’re able to give him real help.
    I hope for Jerry’s complete recovery. Growing old is, as you said, a question of lowering expectations, but also learning to be grateful for the smallest of things. I admire you, Anne. I’m glad to know you, even at a distance.

  12. Deborah says:

    Oh! I nearly forgot the second reaction, which was that you are reading Trollope on a Kindle. He would never have imagined it.

  13. Ernestine says:

    So much you have on your plate.
    It will soon ease up.
    Life has a way of doing that.
    You are strong….

  14. Mage Bailey says:

    You can call the adult protective staff and tell them you are worried. If not them, you can call the police. I too would worry after getting letters like that. So sorry about your computer and your son. I had that face thing done….arms too. I did look like a boiled red potatoe for a long time, but they’ve burned off fewer spots these last few years. It was worth the chemo.

  15. Dick says:

    Like buses, troubles so often enjoy company and come around the corner together. I add my very best wishes, Anne, for now and the year to come. I’m no great fan of cosy little wisdoms, but posting the following to the PP very soon. Here it comes as a free gift!
    1. Life is uncertain, surprises are likely. 

    2. If you are alive, that’s good; lower the bar. 

    3. In a dark place, you still have what really counts. 

    4. If you are in a predicament, there will be a gate. 

    5. What you need might be given to you. 

    6. The true life is in between winning and losing. 

    7. If you have nothing – give it away. 

    John Tarrant (Via Fiona Robyn, via Whisky River)

  16. Pauline says:

    Joy on the one hand, adversity on the other. Life is full of opposites isn’t it? Sometimes we can be truly thankful that this, too shall pass! I had the same treatment Jerry’s undergoing. The relief when it is over and he is given a healing cream will be so great he will forget the awfulness of it. Best wishes for a holiday season that holds some serenity in it for you all.

  17. Darlene says:

    Oh Anne, I share your pain. Especially the computer one. Mine didn’t have a virus; it just died and I didn’t have anything backed up. I have a new one, but am running into all sorts of problems with it. (Things that were supposed to be pre-installed and weren’t).

    I am so sorry for Ben. I really liked him and know he will come out on top eventually. My daughter, as you probably know, is just ending a 3 year long stressful and painful divorce. It will, at long last, be finalized when the para-legal finishes her task. But without a job her troubles will not cease.

    My Christmas will not be very merry as I will be alone, but, hey, I’m still here and that’s a blessing.

    Bert sounds like he is suffering from mental problems. Since there is nothing more you can do for him I guess you just have to accept the fact that it is no longer your problem and let whatever happens happen. You have enough stress to deal with now so try to use the serenity prayer. Accept the things you cannot change and let them go.

  18. Hattie says:

    The way you deal with your complex life is inspiring. I predicit that things will ease off soon, in no small measure due to your ability to cope.
    5 FU! That stuff is so awful. My sympathies to you and Jerry. And kiss your little doggies for me.

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