Monday, September 29, 2014
Randy has been sober and in rehab for 12 days. Seems longer but a short time as well. Time gets to play that sort of game.
The in-laws and I drove up to see him on Sunday. I was packing along the list of things that he wanted me to bring; his old army field jacket, a compass,(it is a huge complex and he gets turned around easily), DVDs (mostly avenger movies), a rain jacket, boots, remote wi-fi, a roll of quarters, an alarm clock, and more. It felt like I was moving him there.
The drive up was one filled with mixed emotions. Wanting to see him, excited about that. Worry about how he was taking being there. Our last communication on the subject of his "being there" included keywords like "prisoner" and "touchie feelie crap". I had not asked about it since and it had been over a week. I had no idea what sort of mood I would find him in. Especially with the in laws in tow. Would he clam up or would he be willing to communicate?
As it turns out, he was happy to see us. He immediately drug me off on a hurried walk by ourselves... to the ATM. Hummmm... not the sort of thing I was expecting, but yes, giving him spending money was fine. He did give me a decent kiss and hug out of sight of "the others" which includes staff and peers. Our initial one was stiff and brief.
Then he checked himself out for a field trip. He wanted to go to an Army Surplus store... which turned into 3 of them. He is looking for particular patches for his field jacket for his training at Ft. Knox and his tank division. We ate lunch out and then returned him so that he could blow into the machine and prove that we had not allowed him to drink.
We sat and visited and then walked and visited. Nothing earth shaking happened. He seemed fine but also on edge. He lost a glove, which we found... and I also found a pack of camels in his pocket. This, I silently pondered and did not share the information. I knew that finding his cigars would not be easy for him, if even possible, on campus.
I looked over his schedule of classes... a good assortment of themes to do with how one feels about ones self and alcohol issues. That evening he would attend his first AA meeting. Prior to this he had said he would never do AA. My feeling on it was that he felt it would be embarrassing for him... a blow to his pride... to stand up and admit that he was an alcoholic. I made no comment on his confession that he would be attending. I wait instead for his comments on what happened there and how he felt about it.
It was exhausting for me. Sounds odd that it would be hard for me when I was not an inpatient, but there was a great deal of emotion flowing in the undercurrent up there. You could see signs of stress on the faces of his peers, and on his own. As we visited one man was begging his wife to reconsider and wait to see how he did in rehab... a projection of desperation not to lose his family... a strained plea over a public phone... his head down to hide his misery while his hand roamed his face and head, pressing and rubbing.
We noted the change in Randy, well many changes in Randy.
But the one I speak of now was an increase in agitation. It was time for us to take our leave and let him get on with it without the pretense of a happy family get together. He walked us to the car and gave me a long, tight hug. He whispered that he was sorry if he had been an ass.
"Well, if so, you're my ass and I forgive you." I whispered back. I watched his back as he hustled down the sidewalk to the smoker's area, a cigarette already lit, clinging to his lip.
I can see a difference in his walk. He moves at a brisk pace that I have not seen him achieve since before his stroke. His mind seems more alert. His body looks healthier. And he likes being there. While we were off campus eating, he developed that same agitation and we took him back... he feels safe there. That is good. He told me that they all had shared experiences that no one else understood (service related) and he had never had this feeling of being understood since his stint in the Army.
They gave him a new walker that is very nice and streamlined. He uses his brakes like a BMXer. It was clear that he was thrilled to have it to replace the clunky old folk ones he has here at home. I'm giving those away. Anyway, there was much to be impressed with... progresses, changes for the positive. But there is still work for him to do.
My in-laws live about 45 minutes north of me and wanted me to stay the night. Nope. Dorothy was right... there is no place like home. As soon as I heard the clicking of Roxy's claws on the oak floor, I felt all the heaviness of the day slide away. We exchanged kisses and wiggles. She got a couple of cookies and her evening meal. Then we flopped down to watch Netflix for the rest of the night.
I am doing okay. I have lots that I am sorting in my head. I am not unhappy or upset with Randy. I want whatever is good for him to come out of this.
He is one of those people who was raised to keep emotions tied up inside... buck it up... be a man... by a man who would not accept him as a son who could ever measure up to his own mighty self. One of the unfortunate who truly did get a beating when he did things wrong. There were very strict expectations... these expectations he passed to his own kids to a lesser degree. There is much family emotional cancer to be cut out.
I stand on the fringe. I see some hard times ahead, but I also see great potential for real growth and happiness. At this point its not up to me. I'll just hang out and do what I can to help and support.
On that note... hope you all had a fine weekend and enjoyed it with people you love, who love you!