Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Widow

My husband said my father's widow is like 'a badger that's been hit by a car'. Given that she was known to paint on eyelashes with liquid eyeliner just below her actual eyelashes, I'd say she is probably more like a racoon that's been hit by a car. I wouldn't know first-hand how she's doing or what animal she most resembles because the woman has been isolating herself from any and all for the past handful of years. Also, she doesn't like me and the feeling is mutual. 

My brother came over for a visit yesterday. He and I packed some sandwiches and drove over to McLaren Park (Golden Gate Park's ignored smaller brother) for a wee picnic. We settled into a spot by a cluster of trees to shelter ourselves from the wind and he began to tell me about the widow. Apparently, she had hurt her back sometime ago and now isn't very ambulatory. She's using a walker, pain pills, and her usual diet of booze and cigs to cope. She doesn't leave the house and has groceries delivered and pays a cleaner to show up once weekly. 

Before coming to see me, my brother went over to the widow's place to change a few light bulbs, at her request, I think it was. Mind you, she has a son who lives nearby, but they don't get on well. She wasn't a very good parent to him. He remembers her often drunk and behaving erratically when he was little. My brother told me that when the widow opened the door he was shocked at the sight of her--dirty clothes & hair, a distinct body odor and threadbare socks. She seemed to be in need of dental work and en eye check as well. She has both refused help and social interaction for years now. With the bad back, I'm sure it's quite hard for her to take care of herself, so, with no one to see & no where to go, she just doesn't. 

One of the main reasons I never liked the widow is because she's always been socially inappropriate (perhaps caused by the drink) and an oversharer of personal details--hers, yours, anyone's she could find out about--no one needs to know. I mostly tried to hide my feelings over the years, but it was challenging at times. One year, during Xmas dinner, she raised her wine glass and said aloud that we should 'thank the baby Jesus'. For what reason we were to do that I am not sure. No one at the table, the widow included, had been raised with religion. The only time my father said grace at the table was for laughs. He'd loudly say 'grace!', we'd have a little chuckle then start eating. It was a bit that never got old even though he'd done it for as long as I could remember. So there she was thanking little Jesus and I, a smart alec 20-year-old, snorted and rolled my eyes. Then I was the jerk for making dad's wife feel bad. 

After dad died, I felt a bit sorry for her, so I took to calling the widow now and then. I quickly learned not to call in January (the month in which dad was born), in October (the month during which dad died), after 11am any day (the time at which she begins drinking). During our phone conversations she would wail and profess her unyielding love for my father. There was lots of I WILL ALWAYS BE MARRIED TO HIM and things of that sort. It mattered little that I and my siblings had also lost someone. In fact, we had lost someone we had known our entire lives not just 14 years of middle-age as she had. Consolation was always one-sided. And to hear this woman repeatedly moan about how much she loved my dad while sobbing stressed me the fuck out. Eventually, I stopped calling. 

After my brother told me about the widow's very sorry state, I called the widow's sister, who also happens to be my mother's oldest friend, to let her know how bad things had gotten. She's alerted the widow's son who will be checking in on his mother tomorrow. The widow's sister will go at the weekend. Will she open the door to either of them? That is anyone's guess. 

12 comments:

  1. It's hard not to feel responsible and guilty.

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    1. Even though I don't like this person, the idea that she's living in pain is unpleasant. May someone in her family get through to her.

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  2. Yes, it sounds like some assistance is needed. Hopefully she will accept her family's help.

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    1. She's been resistant for so long, the odds are tough. But one shouldn't have to live this way.

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  3. Very sad. Alas, some people do this. They isolate themselves and don't accept help. You've done what you can. Hopefully her people will be able to help her out.

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    1. Some people do--so true. And you can't legally help those who refuse it. If one were to send the police or some county authority over to her house, she could refuse them entry and that would be that.

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  4. Holy guacamole. Seriously, good for your initiative, and I hope it is productive. It is a shame she has alienated so many.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. Even though she's repellent, no one should live the way she appears to be living. Goodness knows what sort of early life experiences she endured to shape the person she became. Of course, at the same time, her sister, my mother's friend, went sort of the opposite route and became an MFCC, as they used to be called. Her life's work was and still is to help people in need.

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  5. Wow. I have a few relatives like the widow in my family. It's always about them and it just gets to be too much after awhile. Nice of you to reach out to some of her family. You're a good one, Bea. Take care.

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    1. Yeah, one has to sort of put aside feelings of upset in this sort of situation. Also, I know that my dad would not have wanted her to wind up this way.

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  6. Some people isolate themselves, others like my mother demanded attention and help 24 hours a day, and told me that it was "pay back time" for the years she spent bringing me up.

    However unpleasant the widow is, I hope she accepts help from someone.

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    1. Yes, if some of her physical pain could be alleviated, then that would be a good thing.

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A piece of your mind here:

Widow update

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