Surviving

As I said, its been a long weekend… The more I reflect, I realize it’s been a long week too with another one just beginning.

Despite the restrictions, I’ve also been given time to reflect on three very pressing and complicated situations I’ve been presented with and had been forced to act on. Even on this anniversary of tremendous loss, violence, heroism, and survival, my attention is forced to the smaller stories that are put in front of me.

In working in a call center, it seems that the later it gets in the evening, the greater likelihood I’ll be presented with a situation that is both complicated and in many ways weird. A lot of times, there’s either nothing I really do, or the issue is too asinine for me to give a damn.  Every now and then. the fits people throw late at night are worth the amount of noise they make.

Near the end of last week, I spoke to a woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury. She mostly spoke, seemingly endlessly about a lot of the things going on and what our company had done. Some of it seemed like paranoia, but ultimately, all the lady wanted and needed was a phone because her old phone finally broke down and went kaput. She needed a phone, more importantly, she needed a phone that would aid her in her rehabilitation. There’d been recommendations and offers made, but by end she’d settled on what she wanted. Because of her injury and the brain damage it’d produced, it made navigating the labyrinthian policies of getting a new smartphone. Her constant repetition in her speech, and her inability to focus on any one thing that made it difficult to communicate with her. I believe it was what kept other reps from bothering to follow through with her.

What amazed me was the amount of work that went into her everyday survival. Based on her own story, she’d suffered an injury that most people die from. She was on of those rare people who did just that, and then woke back up. Clearly, she was caught up in a mania to get this one goal accomplished come hell or high water. I spent a couple hours with her and her mother on the phone explaining all aspects of it, ensuring she had enough time to write things down. I wasn’t able to follow the whole thing all the way through, but hope she was able to get the phone she wanted and needed.

The next night, at the beginning of the last hour, I received a call from a man who was so angry with our company that he wanted to cancel his service no matter how much it would cost him. I calmed him down, we talked. It turned out that earlier in the day he’d rolled his car, injuring his fiancée bad enough she’d been in and out of a medically induced coma. All he needed was her phone.

Somewhere along the way, they’d lost her phone which contained all the information needed to complete a big deal they’d been working on for several years. She was not on his account, and he could provide all the information necessary to get into her account to fix the tracking information for the phone. It was a shame, but he was determined to complete this for her. He had, after all, promised during one her last lucid moments.

We talked for an hour trying every angle to see if the contacts could have been kept in some other way. He’d already been up and down the chain of command within a couple of places, and was given different information I couldn’t corroborate. Unfortunately, it kept me from giving him the big enchilada to fix everything (assuming the phone wasn’t smashed to bits or powered down). There were a lot of ifs, but he had to try everything to keep this promise.

I felt for his pain. I even admired his determination. I marveled at the power of his survivor’s guilt. I couldn’t help, but do everything possible. It just wasn’t very much in the long run.

During all this, there was a developing situation on the home front….
Yesterday morning, K’s step-grandmother Lucy died. There’s really no other way to say it, there’s no other way to present it without diving into world of euphemisms and different flavors of religion. I can’t worry about the pearly gates and what lies beyond, and I won’t go into that here. Other people will, trained people who’ve been given their own, special instruction into the greater mysteries of life. We all have our preferences and I’ll leave it at that as well.

I do know, that in our hearts, souls, and stories, Lucy Martin will live on. I won’t share a lady’s age, and I never really did ask. If I was told, I plain don’t remember it right now. Suffice it to say, Lucy live long enough to see quite a few great-grandchildren be born, and a few that are nearing adulthood by American legal standards. She even lived long enough to see K’s stepbrother and his wife have their first child last Christmas.

My memory and story with this woman began the day I finally moved to live with. It was the very day she moved in to live with K’s father and stepmother because her health was deteriorating to the point she couldn’t live on her own anymore. It was a bit sad, but I helped K’s father and brother gather her things from her house so she would be comfortable at his. It was meant to be temporary, but a lot was being left unsaid.

Days, weeks, months went by and she wasn’t being moved back into her old home. K and I would go over and spend the occasional afternoon doing our laundry at her father’s house and we would talk with Lucy. Just by listening and asking questions, I learned more than my share of cooking tricks and tips. I’d never considered to use Bisquick for the topping for cobblers. She even explained that when it came to making biscuits from scratch, just use the self-rising flour and save myself the trouble. There were other things, little things. Anything I cooked and brought over to their house, I relished in her approval of whatever I made. Being a male home cook in these parts is an oddity, and the older generation seems to treat it with a certain since of amusement. Even being new on the scene, I always felt accepted. She even accepted the fact that K and I were living together and no where near married.

When K was so sick from her allergies she was hospitalized and we all felt like it was the tiny apartment we were living in, she offered us the house that was sitting empty. We were to keep the yard and pay utilities. For that opportunity, I will always be eternally grateful to her. Her home has also become my home.

I am also grateful that rather than treating K like a red-headed stepchild over the years, she made her one of her own. I know K is going to miss her as much as she misses the grandmother she lost several years ago suddenly from cancer.

I know she lived her life with a lot of pain, and I admire how she always managed to live through that pain to do everything she could to live her life on her own terms. Intellectually, I know that it is good that she is no longer living in pain, that she is in some form of peace. However, I know our grief comes from a degree of selfishness because of how much we will miss their influence on our lives. It might be selfish, but it doesn’t stop the emotions from being real…
Lucy Martin, you will be missed and remembered. Even if the stories change with the haze of time, you will still be as immortal as you often seemed in our hearts and minds.

Thank you. I’ll never make cobbler without remembering who taught me how to do it.

Now, for the cliche and a bit of silliness. All us survivors who are in need of a perspective could probably use it.

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One Response to Surviving

  1. K says:

    And this is exactly why I love you.
    Thank you.

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