Communication between two friends of 72 years.

The Christmas Day 2014

The newest writing begins at the bottom of the page

From Don 2:46 a.m.
(12.18.14) (12.25.14) (12.17.14)

There is a sort of "acceptance" that grows within as I get back to being what I am, only now what I also am is an aging man with serious health problems, but the blessing of being sound otherwise in mind and body.

All, or most, of the magic attached to the words "I got cancer" has settled down into every day reality, part of the fabric of my life now. This is probably easier for me than for many because I am not suffering, not in physical pain. I'm much like I was before I had cancer. This may not last but it has, with treatment, lasted two years up to now.

I seem to be unraveling a lot of heretofore unconscious habits, mostly bad habits. So this should be good. I have the advantage of living with and around at least two strong, vocal, insightful, forceful women. Sometimes they say things to me that grit my teeth down to my toe nails.

But, usually though, usually they are correct, right, to the point, impatient with foolishness. My ego can only get in the way of this gift being offered.

My mind jumps all around, bouncing like a pin ball, making sounds and light and color. Then it passes. It may be strong, weak, mild, clear, muddy, to the point and off the mark.

I think that something is going on (and I don't know what it is, Mr. Jones!)

Where it is, or may be, headed, that is another matter.

I don't really know from day to day. I read something, hear something, learn something else about MCL and it all looks different, feels different, has a different flavor, up, down, all around. Basically, I am wandering around in this hazy landscape of "could be?"/"might be"/"maybe"/ A place full of shadows, crevices, noises, bright sparks of light, long burdens of dark.

I don't think that I understand the true nature of life. Not just my "own" life alone, but life itself, in people, animals, insects, microbes, ........ And then all together, ....... LIFE.

Beats the hell out of me, but I believe that there is something there that I am missing. I get that feeling a lot. More so lately. And then someone may say something and flip my mind like a pancake. They not only saw what I saw but they saw more than I saw!

Not to be made to, forced to, compelled to, do anything I did not want to do. Somehow that idea factored into my behavior. Persuasion was useless, a strong hand fairly used was what was needed.

Oh, well, confronting oneself is easy to avoid. There are a million ways. I think it has some use. I can catch myself thinking in some way, or deciding something in some way, and hear me say, "get the fuck outa here!"

Time seems to have concentrated, and stretched, gotten a little out of shape from time to time here lately.

I hope to live long enough to understand a lot more than I do. Knowing I might not live long enough spurs me to work at understanding, explore it, create it. But, ego still interferes, resists.

A tree full of monkeys. The mind of man is a tree full of monkeys. Never still. Racing from one thing to another and to another and to another. Chattering, sharp screams, movement, fluttering, sudden speeds, mark their presence.

Focus on the One is suggested everywhere you look. Constant effort required.

It is 2:46 a.m. Just this moment. I am at work. It is quiet for the time being.

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday and Wednesday I go in for the white blood cell booster shot into my fat tissue. They were happy that my anemia is so mild. Neupogen shots are supposed to do the trick. Too low, too long low WBC counts are likely to lead to infections, and other unwelcome visitors.

So today, tomorrow and Wednesday I get the shots. Then blood test to see where we are. Where I am actually. In the meantime I write you from work while is is unusually quiet and calm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gary's reply: 1:26 a.m. here - 3:26 a.m. there - (12.18.14?)

Don, I loved reading your chapter here. Damn! Good shit!

"I hope to live long enough to understand a lot more than I do.”

You know enough. The longer you live the more you will want to know. There is no escape here; we will never know. There are many story tellers out there selling their stories to those who
need to know. But the fact is that nobody knows! No one; other than the One. The 'answer' is just, 'Being Here Now'.

Not to be rude, but going off the subject, I’ll say what I'm able. Several hours ago I woke to pee, the left side hip buttock area had extreme off the wall, off the scale pain, enough to keep me from sleep and bringing on a headache, something I rarely experience. My head is good.

I've never been able to write when the pain is at its worse, my mind can't function in any way to write, or even get it together enough to put what I am physically feeling to use words to describe the situation.

After waking up this morning, I forced myself to pull out the laptop, next to my bed, start it up, and force myself to at least attempt to put some words down to describe how the sensations of pain look, in words.

Turning on the computer, here comes the above email from you, written just hours previously, which I read with great interest and pleasure, the pleasure being that you are there with me after a 72 year long friendship, with both of us facing end of life issues together. Damn! I and we are blessed to have each other to speak openly of DEATH. Your writing got me inspired to write what I am experiencing here at 2:30 a.m.

I don’t remember any time past when the pain was worse than now. No help is forthcoming so I have to accept it, that is a big part of my life; Acceptance.

Maybe call it the ultimate guru, teacher, mentor; It is sure a mean mother fucker. Non-stop, over the top pain, then add on the burning stinging, whoa!

Can’t keep it up, meaning functioning as a functioning human being. What to do is my question. Avenues being looked at but nothing promising.

For years I asked, “How do I do this?" Now, I ask “How much longer can I do this, pull this off, this role of me?" I am comfortable in knowing that I am comfortable - oh motherfucker exclaims me, jeasus! - in knowing all that I need to know. I only need be here now, to quote another.

Aside from the playing around with words this is serious to the point of that letter to my kids. I’m at the end, just a bit more pain could slip me off the edge. I’m sooo tired. Took a Diazepam, will take two, aspirin, some tokes, at least get the mind altered, distracted.

I’m so tired, sleepy exhausted, typing words that I hope expresses where I'm at in life at this time as well as you have of your life in the above writing. I can’t last another year at the outside, I’ll be unable to function. Rufus is not aware of my minds way and places it goes, he follows me everywhere, except when he is sleeping, and when laying outside on the porch, until he senses that I am not in view. I need shots of morphine. Sometimes I think I am exaggerating. How could you stand pain that bad I ask, it must not be that bad I say in denial. It’s fucking shit, jeasus I’m not ready to shout NO yet.

We are fortunate, you and I, being able to openly speak of death, a subject, even amongst those who are at the point of leaving, their families and friends unable to openly speak of an impending DEATH, a forbidden subject, that we can share these feelings and understand different approaches to the end of life, the final curtain call. Do we bow, or leave the stage unnoticed?

Undaunted, yet oblivious and conditioned to believing that an answer actually exists. - It hurts fuck man fuck fuck - I’ll get through this night and perhaps the pain will subside a bit tomorrow. If I stop writing, which is what I want to do. I want to collapse into a deep deep sleep. If I turn off the mac, lights out warm and cozy - way nasty severe pain jabs and stabs my lower extremities - you see, I want to live this life for a while longer, for the simple reason is that it feels so good to be here alive on a planet in vast space, a space we are part of, we are that space - this is what could be called stoned speak - but it is a true fact with me. I only know what I know, everything else, stories. I’m going to - oh fuck fuck oh fuck man jeasus - Stop writing here and be with the Guru, he or she is one tough mother fucker. This place borders insanity, and many weaker folks have gone there. Fuck.

Thanks for the wonderful writing Don, I appreciate reading it greatly!

Gary

~~~~

DON:
We’ve been to the border and back. Maybe cross the borders soon. We have almost always been heading for the border.

Now this age/disease/health landscape is upon us as well. ...And we ride, still ride, rusty and creaking and slow but still moving.

You are right about it being special to be alive here now this. Now out for my Neupogen shot at Kaiser.

Later, Don

~~~~~

This idea came from a season from NURSE JACKIE when the young man with green hair that she met in rehab committed suicide. His cell phone was never cut off, jackie, when troubled, continued to leave him messages.

I know that when Don passes, if he goes before me, I’ll continue writing him as a way to speak my mind to an open mind a nonjudgmental mind; Hence: Letters to a Dead Man.

~~~~~
NEW - 12.15.14 - From Don to his cousin (Posted here 12.25.14)

(Rick, Hope you got the money I transferred. 

This is a bit of a strange relationship we seem to have as of late. It is okay, if you want.  I wonder if you feel about writing an e-mail the way I do about telephone calling?

If so, we are at an impasse and need to over pass that impasse. One of the purposes of writing for me is to talk with you even just in writing and thinking and remembering, with a response or not.

Christmas Day is here, The following is my day up till then. Now is okay. I don’t feel as bad, might even get a nap. Arlette will probably be home by six or seven.

Talk with you later, or not??? The mystery deepens. The whole world seems a giant, or minute, mystery. Little spots of light here and there. Light warmth succor. Mystery.) 

So, Happy Christmas to you and Merry New Year.

Love you cousin,
Don

• • •
The Christmas Day -- 2014
From Don to Gary:

Woke this morning, for the fourth time... ...But I managed, though not gracefully. So, stomach hurting, sneezing, nose running, I had to bow out of the dinner today at Caro’s father’s house. The four of us did have Thanksgiving dinner there last month.

I am seen as the man without a family. I so took that for granted that it surprised me to hear it characterized that way! But, of course, it is true. For 22 years or more, Joan was my family. I was hers. 

After 1977 Joan and my mother met, 11 years after we had married. They seemed to take to each other, brought out things in one another that were good. My mother became family again, including Joan. I was very happy. Eleven years without closeness or even seeing my mother had been hurtful. For both of us. And it was only when her only relative, her sister, died in 1977 that she made contact and explained the why of those eleven years to me.

Things went downhill from there. Culminating in open split between them, over my brother. Bad times for us all. Me in the middle, not satisfying either of them. 

And so it goes. 

These memory traces appear, flash across the sky and are gone. Gone as quick as they came. 

So, part of our “memory environment” is childhood, where we were when we were there how we were. Mostly forgotten, if even ever noticed at all. Sometimes memory is like the bubbles in carbonated liquids, arising and dissolving, flowing, changing, evolving, maybe even disappearing as in Alzheimers disease. Can’t trust the bubbles of air to go on forever.

Sentient being to … meat. 

Slowly and quickly

I look at my body
At my typing hands
I see friends

Friends grown old
grown wrinkled, 
still doing their duty

Hands reflect the face
Both weathered, lined
And veined

No sweet promises there
Mortality rules here
Wishes are for fun 

The back is with us all
The old age pain
Another potential damper

So, you keep coming back
as long as you can
there are others to consider

The reaction to being told
that I have no family
is sympathy, pity, a hand

Sweet natures people have
I missed seeing them before
Felt them lately

Gary Schooley of Chattanooga Street
Tough kid, swagger, style, inner doubt
A teenage salad bowl

But, just about always ,,, ALIVE 
Daring, inventive, bold
to stand before a mirror

Twirl the hair of your head 
into strange shape and styles
Wore heavy boots, taps

marlon brando, James Dean
James Caan, John Garfield, Lee Marvin
Bogart, Warren Oates, Steve McQueen

Being cool was the grail sought
The coolest were the winners
Over the raging mad sinners

The world was mostly bizarre
Strange landscapes to explore
By choice and by pressure

Easy to get lost, 
wrong turns abound
no friendly bloodhound

Poor fucking kids!
My heart goes out to them
Thrown to the lions early on

What’s it like now?
I can’t imagine
Scared to check it out

Well, then, Christmas is upon us. The winter solstice, sun more shy than ever, cold outside. Stiffness takes hold when we are without heat. Got to warm up.

The mind gets stiff, inflexible, stuck in a rut. Hard to see from inside. But, when someone is both brave enough and kind enough to tell you about your self in a forceful convincing way, one may easily ascribe negative motivations for this confrontation. Reflex-like get angry.

All of this gets in the way of what should, could, be an alliance for the good of the four of us. 

I am a good part of the fault for this state of affairs. My petty little fucking ego. 

It is still possible, even likely, if I can get me out of the way.

Regards, 
Don

~~
12.25.15 6:20 p.m.

Don, as usual your writing brings me into your world as a real fantasy, ‘real’ as in real life, no buffer zone, exposed, out in the open.

This poem is meant to be read many times. My scene later...

Gary

~~~~~~~~~~~~
so enough now..

Don, will be next on. he has a way with words
that bring one into a sphere other than their own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To be continued

Return to Poetry Workshop

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