Saturday, October 20, 2012

My pants were falling off.

It was when my pants started to come down as we entered the restaurant that I realized what day it was.

Should probably explain that, I guess.

Since I retired I've dropped anywhere from 12-15 pounds, depending on what day it is.  Fewer lattes, perhaps.  Anyway, my waist has remained, according to pant size, a 34.  The pounds are leaving from other places.  But there must be some waist removal as I now need to wear a belt, sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes.

Like today.  Just ran an errand or two and then met my wife at an Italian restaurant she wanted to try.  I opened the door to the SUV, and swung my legs out to the left (slowly), and then dropped to the ground.  My jeans, buttoned and zipped, kept going.  I grabbed a belt loop, and pulled back, making sure no one, including my wife, saw it.  I walked stiffly to the door, but I do that now anyway.

As we waited for our food, I reminded myself that someone else had the same problem.  My father Lou had to deal with this same mess, but that poor guy, thirty plus years back, had no idea what hit him.  I remember seeing.him walking around our house, looking out windows, dressed in his fur hat and heavy jacket in June.  He had the"shuffle" and his jeans were hanging off his skinny butt, like a flag at half mast.  We'd stop him, adjust him, and he'd go on his way or sit in the kitchen and shake.

We don't share the heavy duty shaking - yet - but it's starting to get tougher to pick up an English muffin.

My father died on October 19, 1979.

Now the bipolar part of me wants equal time, so let's hop exactly 25 years into the future to October 19 2004.  A dear friend at my job was leaving the Department of Social Services for a position with New York State.  There was going to be a small farewell party for her at a certain time during the day.  I promised to be there.  But I wasn't.  I was in another county listening to some fool talk about his excellent employment programs for welfare recipients. He went on and on and I kept looking at my watch, hoping he would have a stroke or something.  And on and on he went.  Finally we were freed from bondage and I dashed back to work, but the party was done, and my friend gone. Great.

The next morning I found a message on my voicemail from my friend saying a tearful goodbye. It touched me like few things ever have.  Having recently learned that another person I was close to was retiring very soon, and with this message, and the bleakness of a job that I disliked and that despite 300 other employees in the building I was alone, well, my bipolar brothers and sisters, you may know what's coming.  Yep. Freak out.

Yelling, throwing objects, tears steaming down my face, the worst depression I ever felt, and it went on for months until Christmas Eve when a few too many pills and a little too much wine, and my wife came home from visiting family to see her husband unresponsive on the couch.  Fortunately a lot of yelling and shaking of my arm on my wife's part stirred me awake.  Was it deliberate? I'm not sure, maybe not, but something in me wanted to go, but a lot more wanted to stay.

Glad I did.  I got into therapy, got the help I needed, and the right drugs, and tried to relax some.  Meditation, Qi Gong, and Buddhism studies gave me the ability to understand, and handle life, which came in quite handy a few years later when MS moved in, and my pants started to fall off.

I've seen my friends from DSS a few times since they left, and they are doing well.  I'm happy for them, and I've good memories of those days.  October 19 will always have meaning for me, how can it not? But we need the past to show how far we've come, then be in this moment, and then be in the next.

And, of course, when possible, be in the moment with a belt around your jeans.  Because like the man said "Look like a fool, with your pants on the ground."

Thanks for reading.  Next one's from Disney World.

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