People who need people


One day last week I was listening while Miss Cathy was talking-there’s really no other way to describe a ‘conversation’ with her really. She was telling me that she’d decided against having a girlfriend drop by for a visit. I listened as she complained about how this particular friend was someone who hated to be alone and how she constantly needed to be around someone. Mom made a point of “not” empathizing with her friend’s personality trait, saying that she didn’t understand people ‘like that’ because she was perfectly fine to be on her own.

“I get tired of her calling all the time, she’s so persistent”, she fumed, “wanting to come over here or for me to go over there. Stay home, I’m tired, entertain your own damn self.”

Exactly what she was ‘tired’ from I had no idea-a long hard day of watching TV perhaps. Frankly, I’d have thought she’d relish the opportunity to talk to someone (anyone), lord knows the two of us don’t do much of that anymore, we’re like that old married couple that’s heard each other’s stories and jokes one (or six hundred and twenty-eight) times to many-at least I feel that way.

I know it all sounds a little harsh but what do I know, they’re her friends and she’s got a right to have whatever feelings she wants to have about them. I just worry that one day she’s going to wake up and realize that she’s alienated them all and there’ll be no friends left to rail against.

She becomes quite agitated when she’s talking about something that’s happened between them. She gets herself wound up like a clock and her face becomes flush with emotion. I’ve warned time and again that she’s going to give herself an aneurism investing so much emotion in telling her tales. I try to remind her to just ‘tell the story’ and not to ‘re-live’ it-she’d have been a great Method actor.

Besides, the girlfriend she’s talking about is the very person that helped find her after she’d had her fall last year. If it wasn’t for the ‘persistence’ of this friend there’s no telling if or when anybody would have found her on her bathroom floor.

That fact alone would give that person a lifetime pass (in my book anyway) to come over or have me do whatever they wanted (you want to go to the Piggly Wiggly-no problem, I’ll push the grocery cart. Drop by at seven a.m. for a chat-I’ll put the kettle on). But hey, that’s just me.

I know she’s grateful and I know that she loves her friend but lately I’m noticing a shift toward the negative.

She’s also full of contractions, I know for a fact that as much as she rails against her friends and family she can work herself up into a panic if a few days pass and she hasn’t heard from one of them on the telephone. And telephone she does, morning noon and night, I hear her on the phone talking but that’s not how you maintain relationships (especially one’s that are within a ten-mile radius).

Besides, isn’t it better to have something to look forward to-even if it’s a visit from a friend you’re not particularly crazy about (that day) instead of just watching TV and napping until it’s time to go to bed at night? I worry that at the rate she’s going all she’ll have is the past because there’ll be no future (friendships anyway).

Maybe she has some variation of ‘survivor’s guilt’. While she’s grateful to her friend for helping to save her life maybe it’s hard to be around her now because her friend reminds her of that day and her diagnosis. I don’t know, I’m not ‘in’ their friendship. I just know that Miss Cathy seems to have less time in her day for people and the irony is that all she has is time.

Sometimes I wonder if being ornery is because of her age or her diagnosis, it’s hard to separate sometimes. Unfortunately, It’s not like I have a ‘quote, un-quote’ ‘normal’ seventy-three year in a closet somewhere that I can pull out as a control group-you know, some old person that I can gauge their reactions against hers.

No, all I have is Miss Cathy, she’s my ‘people’ and cranky or not, consistent or not, I’m still one of the luckiest people in the world because I do need her (although some days I’d just like a less chatty, nicer version of ‘her’).

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