Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Vaction?


This past week I have been out of town, I guess you could call it a vacation although at times it felt less like a vacation and more like a counseling session. My wife, my father and myself all went to New Jersey to take advantage of some free time, see the family for the holiday and just to sort of forget what we all tried to leave behind.
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For a short time I was hoping that my dad could forget about the cancer he is fighting, my wife could get away from working and dealing with irate clients, and I could try to forget the everyday grind that I face.
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My wife and I had initially planned on going away alone since this exact time of year is our wedding anniversary and we haven't really had too much time to ourselves over the past year or so. When we discovered that my father was to start radiation therapy and was going to be finishing the series the day before we planned to leave we decided not to go at all but to stay behind and take care of any of his needs. When we told him our plans to cancel he wouldn't have it; according to his doctor he would be fine so we decided to take him with us. That in of itself was fine.
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He had good and bad times but overall I would have to say that he felt well. Yesterday we got to see my brother, his wife, my niece, nephew and their grandfather for a few hours and shared some time and a meal. One more aspect of the trip that went well.
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My wife didn't have to put up with her attorney boss nor did she have to field any irate clients as they walked in the door. I have to assume that she had a good time and I know she was thrilled to see the kids; they're not children anymore but to her they will always be her little ones.
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I too had a good time but as luck would have it I wound up talking to some woman about her leaving her husband and the death of her daughter. I must radiate something that attracts certain types of people to me. Someone I know once called themselves a "freak magnet" and although I can't say that I attract anyone much freakier than myself I have to say I am a magnet of sorts.
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We spent some time at a casino while in NJ, it seems that is the one place my dad can forget all his cares. So here I am sitting at a penny slot machine trying to keep an eye on my dad as he zips around on a scooter going from machine to machine. I was oblivious to everything going on around me except for him when the woman next to me, who I now think may have had a bit too much to drink, leans over and asks me "are you married?". Her words were slightly slurred, she was wearing these BIG eyeglasses and had a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. I looked right into her magnified, bloodshot owl eyes and nodded yes.
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She goes on to tell me that if I'm not married that I shouldn't make the same mistake that she did. "It all changes once you get married, you should just have a girlfriend". All the while I'm trying to be polite and nodding and smiling when in the next breath she asks me "are you looking for a girlfriend?" No, I'm here with my wife I told her, this time in words. First off I'm married and not looking but this woman had to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies compared to my forty nine. She had the face of a woman who had smoked all her life complete with the deepest wrinkles you'd ever seen.
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At first I didn't know what to think, but her next sentence sort of gave me a hint. "Would you like to come and see what a nice room I have?" I don't think so. "I left my husband and have been so lonely lately." Am I being propositioned by this woman? "Where is your wife?" was the next question. Alright, I had to get away from her because I wasn't in the mood to even explain what I was now thinking. I said I have to go and quickly cashed out of the machine and stood when I felt her pulling on my shirt tail. This was unbelievable!
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The first lie that came to my head was "I'm sorry ma'am, I'm going to a funeral today and I feel like hell, I've got to go." She just looked at me and burst into tears. OK, now I feel like shit, I somehow made this old woman cry. Do I just walk away and leave her in tears or do I try to calm her down first? Can you guess what this jerk did? You got it, I sat back down and asked her why she was crying.
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"I left my husband because he was a sonofabitch after my daughter died." Oh shit, here we go! Now her daughter died after I mention a funeral. Oh, I'm so sorry, when did your daughter die I asked. "I remember it like it was yesterday, she died on April 23'rd, 1968 and that frig I was married to wanted me to forget her and have another!" "I told that bastard to keep his friggin' hands off me!" At that exact second I knew I could not, in the five minutes I was going to give her, help her to forget 39 years worth of bitterness and anger.
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I again told her that I had to leave and called a waitress over and ordered her another Corona to replace the empty bottle she had been clutching. I really felt sorry for this woman but I knew I had nothing else to give her which might ease her pain. I waited with her until the beer showed and I was shocked how quickly she "released" me when she had a full bottle in her hands.
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I saw her three other times that day and each time she was nursing a beer and talking to someone. I hope that she finds somebody who will be able to give her what she's looking for, I just knew I couldn't supply it. This was my winter vacation.

5 comments:

paisley said...

being the original freak magnet,, i know exactly how you feel... and the real shit of it is,, after i get away from them... i cannot help but keep thinking about them!!!!!!

dirtsister said...

I too am a "freak magnet". Someone told me it must be the energy I put out that attracts them.

Matty said...

You're not a freak magnet. You're just a good listener...somebody who can listen with empathy and compassion. That's what attracts people to you. I know...I've been there.
That's what makes a good conversationalist...one who can listen. Take it as a compliment.

karen said...

I agree with Matty. I think it is a compliment, too. I tend to have the same effect on people. I used to think it's because I am a nurse, but people seem to be drawn to me even when they don't know this. Maybe it is because of my profession (and your's - in a way - is quite similar). You learn therapeutic communication and you can't just turn it off. I mean it IS who you are after a while...

But, I'm pretty sure that lady thought you were a hottie, too.

"I looked right into her magnified, bloodshot owl eyes and nodded yes." LOL :0)

I'm sure you have much good karma coming for your kindness to her.

Agnes Mildew said...

Aw, the poor old dear. Being lonely isn't nice for anyone and as Karen says, it is a sort of compliment that you have the type of manner people feel they can approach you and share their secrets with.

I'd like to tag you for a meme, DS. You can find it here