As good as it gets


I’m back less than a week from my last trip teaching in New York and I can see that the time apart has done both Miss Cathy and me a lot of good. Peace and harmony seems to have replaced the tension and resentments that just a few months ago permeated the space we share.

Last year was the first time I filled in for a friend teaching a summer fashion illustration course from mid July to early August. It was an experiment to see how Miss Cathy could get along without me for up to four days (with Tony talking over as primary caregiver in my absence) and Ron (our upstairs neighbor that Miss Cathy considers a third son) to help out, too.

All went well so I could confidently accept the position again when they offered it to me this year.

While I was in New York teaching I had time to write, relax, see friends and just forget all about what my life has become and focus on what it is-which ain’t so bad.

My absence was a nice change for Miss Cathy too. Not only did she get to spend time with her other sons, her girl-friends came to visit more often and I’m sure she liked having here condo all to herself (more or less) while I was away.

Since I’ve been back I have noticed a few things worth mentioning. She’s been initiating projects around the condo then just walking away from them or forgetting that she even started them. And then there are those times when I remind her that something was her idea and I see from the expression on her face that she had no clue. Those moments are tough and her refrain, “Oh, I’m just as crazy as shit” is pretty much a guaranteed reaction.

I deduced a while ago that she gets more forgetful and “nonsense-ical” (my term for those times when “what” she says has absolutely nothing to do with the situation or conversation) when she’s upset, excited, stressed or anxious.

Lately though her memory seems to come into question even on those days when she’s otherwise pretty sharp.

It’s in those moments when she forgets that I remember to stay calm and loving. I gently try to give her what she needs; be it a reminder of the word she’s hunting for, patience as she searches for it, help solving the puzzle that her mind can become or simply sitting with her while she ruminates.

This month is the two-year marker of my “leaving my life to join hers’”. I’m slowly starting to accept where I am and who I am in this moment. I don’t know if it’s time, attrition or surrender that is the reason for my newfound state of resignation.

Whatever the reason, it is good to wake up and not have that sinking feeling come over me that I’m trapped in a nightmare (of my own choosing). It’s far from ideal but it’s not what it was before, or what it’s likely to be in the future….for today, it’s enough to know that this may be “as good as it gets”.

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