honestly my life has been like, "car, car car, car, something else, car car, car" for a while now.
but other things happened. one of my best friends, Avery's, wife had a baby. everybody's healthy and all that. they've been having epic poly relationship drama for the last ~5 months, and goodness knows where that's going, but they're all focused on the child now, so that's good i guess. i am, as always, vaguely sad and disappointed that somebody had a baby. i know, i know, now you all think i'm a terrible person because i don't like babies. or children, let's be honest. but i lose friends to this. all. the. time. and Avery matters to me very deeply. and i know, fundamentally, the she will not let that happen; i matter just as much to her. i KNOW that. but i can't stop feeling disappointed that she has a baby. even though i had 9 months to get used to this idea. her other kid is 11, he's actually fun to hang out with -- and self-entertaining. babies are just... giant vortexes of time and energy. and they're boring. and the whole thing is just... idk. made of No, i guess. in a few thousand ways.
so there's that, mild background radiation.
and a different background radiation got bigger today.
backstory if you're new here: in 2004, my father re-married his first wife, from before my mom, Madelon, and moved to Marshall, NC to live with her in the huge old victorian house called the Gingerbread House that she shared with her sister, Drusilla. they had bought the place with Madelon's late husband Jim in the 90s, and ran it as a B&B for many years, and then Jim became ill and died. at first, Drusilla lived in the separate, 2-br apartment over the garage, called the Annex, but when Jim got sick and they stopped running the B&B, she moved into the upstairs of the main house and he moved into the apartment. after he died, Madelon and Drusilla, who have never lived apart in their lives, continued to live together in the big house, Madelon downstairs, Drusilla upstairs, sharing a kitchen. Madelon reconnected with my father, and he moved out there, and he spent the last 11 years of his life there, sharing the downstairs with Madelon, mostly quite happily except for the interminable rain which he, child of the desert, hated but became resigned to over time. (cue unhappy rant: "you know what this place gets? 54" of rainfall a year! you know what that is? it's 2/3 of a *rainforest,* that's what!") but he was overall very happy, rain notwithstanding, reading books, hanging out with Madelon and Dru, puttering in his woodshop, until in February 2015 he was diagnosed with stage 4 non-small-cell lung cancer. Drusilla took care of him basically day and night from sometime that summer when it got bad, until he died in December of 2015. she also cared for Madelon, who was ambulatory but variously unwell, that whole time (and had been so for years). Not to mention watching her first-third husband die, as she had watched her second husband die. just a bit hard on a person, that. Dru is a (retired) nurse, who specialized in geriatric care. she joked that she had been preparing for this her whole life. she presents as a smart, ascerbic misanthrope, but is actually an amazingly generous, smart, caring human being. his death gutted her. and exhausted her.
(at the end, the last few days, i was there. Alan and i took turns standing watch while he slept, being caretakers when he woke, so Dru could sleep for 8+ hours straight. it was one of the most emotionally wrenching, intense, painful, horrible, necessary, experiences of my life. i will never be able to listen to an oxygen pump without being in that room. i can only imagine what she, primary care the whole time and for all practical intents his sister, went through.)
/end backstory (that i've actually talked about here).
so, almost a year after his death, last fall, Drusilla decided they needed to move from the big house, up to the Annex, a much smaller, more manageable space. probably a great idea. she set about beginning the process, making sure they had working appliances, fixing things, getting all the years and years and years of near-hoarder-style crap out of there, etc. (most of Jim's old things were still there, among other things. i camped among them, when i stayed there, up till and including in 2015. he died in 2000.)
and then, mid-moving-prep, Madelon, whose health has been variously unstable for a long time, had a stroke. Drusilla and i had had a couple of phone calls over the course of that almost-year, and we had been exchanging emails roughly every couple of months -- she'd write, i'd write back right away, several weeks would pass, she'd write. so when she stopped writing, it was not immediately apparent. (Madelon was already in no shape to regularly respond to emails, and I have not actually talked with her since the day after my father died. We didn't entirely like each other, though there was always mutual respect and caring, in the way that you can care about the well-being of a family member you don't entirely get on with. i like, admire, and deeply care for Drusilla in a much more straightforward way.)
Madelon had a stroke, Dru was once again primary care. this time, there simply was nobody else. they have never made close friends in that community, for all the many, many years they've lived there -- they have dozens of acquaintances, some of whom probably really care, but no friends. they have no remaining family. unless they are willing to consider me and my sister family -- i'm not sure they do. Jim had children, whom Madelon helped raise, who were remarkably absent after they left that house. i suspect that Dru and Madelon both expect(ed) the same of me and Meg, and therefore simply don't fully realize that we both consider them real family, and that we are absolutely going to do all we can to help when something goes wrong.
so Dru let me know she was checking Madelon into an inpatient care facilty for 2 weeks, so she could get a break, and that the nurses on staff there had ordered her (Dru) home for rest, "you look terrible! sleep!"
and then nothing. crickets. i responded that day, as always. i wrote again a few weeks later. nothing. i let a few weeks go by, and wrote again. by now it's December. i sent them a calendar, with a chatty long letter asking for a reply, for xmas. nothing. i started calling the house landline. answering machine (not voicemail, y'all, an actual tiny tape recorder on the kitchen counter, circa 1990), no surprise; nobody ever picks up there. the deal is, if you talk long enough, someone picks up the phone. i leave loooooooong chatty messages, talking about my life, expressing concern, expressing worry, asking how they're doing, asking to please call me. nothing. three of these messages since the first of January. i let time go by between, to give Dru a chance to hear the message and respond. maybe i shouldn't; maybe if i cared more i'd be on it faster? i don't know. i want to respect their privacy, their right to not be intruded upon by nosy adult step-children. and at the same time, i want to know what is going on. they're not my family, but they are. they are.
so i called again today. and the house telephone is disconnected. NOPE. i have to stop my imagintion short, at that. i call Drusilla's cell, which i know she barely knows how to use. no response, and her vm isn't set up; no surprise. the thing is probably in a drawer somewhere. so i texted, asking her to call me, saying i was worried about how they're doing.
honestly, i'm worried that Madelon died, and Dru fell into an immeasurable pit of despair and feels that she has no one without her sister (her big sister) who was ALWAYS there for her and now here she is 70 years old and bereft of the only thing that really mattered. and because despair, she wouldn't have called us. i mean who are we? just Frank's kids. we're done there; we got his things two years ago when he died, why would she even think to call us. this is my worry.
so i message my sister, who also hasn't heard from them. we go back and forth for a bit, increasingly worried. Meg emails them both on the spot, and also calls. same response of course. i decide i need more data, so i call my friend and former farm intern Lucy, who lives just over the ridge out there in Marshall. of all the places for her to end up. Lucy is a home health care nurse. she has seen it ALL. she turns out to be absolutely willing to drop by the hoarder-messy Gingerbread House tomorrow, to find out if anyone is alive and see how they are doing. she totally understands my fear/worry/concern/upset.
whew. omg. it'll be probably 7 a.m. North Carolina time; 5 a.m. New Mexico time, but i am leaving my ringer on so i hear when Lucy calls me.
it's entirely possible that Dru got them both moved up into the Annex, got Madelon back from the inpatient place, and has just been too tired/ disinterested/ whatever to call or write in spite of her usual slow-but-unfailing responsiveness to such demands, and let the landline to the Gingerbread House lapse instead of moving it up to the Annex. I think the Annex had its own line. that would be the best possible outcome, and if that happens, i will be vastly relieved, even if i have annoyed Dru by having Lucy wake her up. i can come up with a dozen much worse scenarios, and i just have no idea what is realistic, what might have happened, because all of these ideas, including the good one, are simply speculation.
so that's enough for tonight. Mind Research Network brain study in another entry soon, i promise. (that started this weekend, too. as well as buying a car, selling a car, and working on the farm. what is this weekend of which you speak? my next real one is probably that vacation in Tucson.)
ETA: Lucy dropped by at 7 a.m. this morning. She looked in the big house, no signs of life. Went upstairs next door (these two buildings share a driveway) and knocked; lights came on. so somebody, presumably Drusilla, is alive. Dru or whoever did not answer the door -- not the most surprising thing, at that hour, from known hermit(s). This neither proves nor disproves my theory that Madelon may be profoundly ill and/or dead, but it anyway is a good first step. Dru's car was in the driveway (Lucy described it, and I can identify it from that). she peeked in the window by the door, and the kitchen showed signs of current occupancy. so she left a note with a brief explanation, and her name and number. i've emailed Dru again right now; Meg did so as well. if Dru will call one of us, I'll head Lucy off at the pass, but if i do not hear anything, Lucy will drop by this afternoon.
Occams' Razor says: Drusilla is fatigued being a primary care-taker of a very ill person, and completing the move across the driveway and into the Annex, which had lots of things to do of course. she stopped paying for the landline on the main house because they're not using it, and she has a new phone number. which she did not think to send us. And she doesn't know how to ask for help worth a fuck, so she hasn't reached out. that does not entirely explain her not *responding* to me and Meg reaching out, but that would be the better scenario. i have trouble imagining that Madelon is all that well, all things considered.
at any rate, Lucy is going back by at a better visiting hour this afternoon. i hope she manages to make contact -- or that i get a phone call before then!