Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back on the air

Time to start posting again, after a verrry long hiatus.

I'm back in Chicago, in a spacious condo in Kenwood. John's trust is very close to closing, only waiting now for the "first and final" income tax forms from his CPA. A year ago, I visited Herb in his vacation apartment in Puerto Rico. We bacame partners immediately! Now I spend my summers at his home in the Berkshires and he, in a sign of true love, spends his winters here in Chicago! We try to take the edge off by spending a month in San Juan, typically in January.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The giver, not to whom something was given

I've just discovered, in reading Elizabeth Kaeton's blog about a NY cop who bought a homeless man a pair of shoes and winter socks, that being a Christian isn't about finding someone worthy of your charity. It's about finding it within yourself that you can give freely and charitably, consequences notwithstanding. Now that I think about it, there's evidence all over Scripture about the prophets who really weren't all that thrilled with God's call to them, because they were looking at the likelihood of success. God's message to them was, "let me be in charge of the outcomes".

This is a revelatory point for me, fifteen weeks after my partner's untimely death. With each passing month of his passing, I gain greater confidence that my early suspicions were sound: I was called to help John, not to judge him or set some criterion for his care. I was called to help him in his last struggles in his life.

I asked repeatedly in prayer, why must I be his caregiver? WIIFM? Can you please get him back to good health so that we can return to our prior life together? It was John in his best health that attracted me to him, and for that condition I hoped and prayed.

Yet, John did not progress to better health; quite the contrary. John was bipolar, and quite possibly in denial about his disorder. As one consequence, his medications may not have been properly monitored. I now suspect his alcohol abuse was connected to his depressive phases. His 2008 mugging could be attributed to the consequences of a manic phase: one of his friends mentioned to me his disregard for the consequences of his more aggressive statements. Should I be more active in support of bipolar disorder research?

It's all very sad. The point of this post, though, is that I didn't condition my love for this guy on his purity or righteousness or some such. I was close to leaving him more than once, but it didn't feel right, and I could tell that it wasn't right as I struggled through the particular situation. I couldn't leave John because he was sick, or because he was imperfect, or because--or just because. I longed for John to recover, so that we could be together more, camp out more, attend more musical events, spend more evenings on the lawn at the Millennium Center. I stuck with John out of hope. Now, it's time to think about a different future, my time with John is now a chapter of history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Five weeks later

Gradually adjusting to a single life, again. It will take me awhile to adjust to life without John. His spirit drifts from place to place in this house, and in the habits I adopted as his partner. I experience periods of fatigue, wanting to escape, wishing I were elsewhere. Some of this is depression. I am applying the only countermeasures I know, which are to continue with my music and my German, and to delegate other tasks to contractors. The garage roof and the fence are complete, the garage painting is scheduled, and I am paying the neighbor kid to mow the lawn. Most of John's undergarments are in a suitcase in his car awaiting donation to Episcopal Charities. His DVD collection sits in six cartons in the living room awaiting shipping labels, now three days late in arriving. I will spend more time next week sorting his CD collection, then his vinyl. In the meantime, I have other obligations that I must discharge, such as home maintenance and attention to my son's needs. I have a niece whose attorney has not responded to my phone call. I need to fix the scuffs on my car prior to putting it on the market. I don't know how to sell a car, nor how to buy one. Time and energy, each task. I'd rather be basking in the sun in a warm clime. For that, I should be looking for someone to take care of my cat Lili, rather than just boarding her. Another time-consuming task.

I hope that sometime in the near future I cross paths with another engaging soul, that we can forge a relationship that lasts longer than five years. As engaging as John was, his 2008 brain injury caused him - and me - considerable flexibility and mutual enjoyment. O Lord, hear my prayer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

John didn't make it

When John fell on August 15th, he hit his head, probably on the grandmother clock at the foot of the stairs. The epidural hematoma, aka "brain bleed," was so large that it severely injured John's brain. I don't even want to discuss the details of his injury nor the proposals of his physicians, all of which pointed to a severe loss of the person who was John. But, I believe he understood me when I told him we were invoking his living will, because he appeared to yield and die within 36 hours of arriving at inpatient hospice care. He left us on August 25th. I don't want to discuss that, either. The last two or three hours of his life were calmer, as apnea gradually overtook him. Poor sweet puppy, you left us waay too soon, but perhaps about right for you. I wanted you with me for a longer time.

Now, nearly four weeks later, after a memorial mass, a brief but loving committal service and lots of support from friends and relatives, I'm beginning to recover my own sense of self and responsibilities. My period of bereavement is gradually subsiding. I am engaged in the new projects that John left me. I am asking all John's health care providers for a reduced settlement, so that all may receive something. The garage has been re-roofed. The fence is removed and the north side replaced (not without some flak from the cranky neighbor to the north). I will decide today or tomorrow who gets to paint the garage. I am recording John's DVD, CD and vinyl collections for eventual sale to the highest bidder. One of these days, I will escape from Northwest Indiana to a home somewhere else, like Hyde Park. Or elsewhere, who knows. I am still discussing with God the next phase of my life, but it's much too early in the conversation to disclose details.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I'm exhausted. Not sure whether physically or spiritually, but still lacking a lot of energy I associate with living day-to-day. I so wish I could back this week up and start it over, with changes.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 5:10pm, my partner John slipped and fell, head-first, down a half-flight of stairs. I don't know the circumstances--was he headed toward his office, had he a glass of wine, what was he thinking--but the consequences were catastrophic. I was close by, arriving in the kitchen to prepare supper, just around the corner of the stairs. I heard him fall. I saw him seconds later, he was unconscious. Not good.

I called 911, unlocked the front door, then mopped up some water or some colorless liquid on the stairs. First responder was a Munster patrolman. I called to him to come through the kitchen. A minute or two later, paramedics arrived. The patrolman called out to them this time. Two or three minutes after that, a second team of paramedics arrived. The paramedics with the muscle lifted him out of the family room and onto the gurney in the kitchen.

John was no better than semi-conscious throughout. As they strapped him to the board, I collected his meds into a plastic bag. I believe I alerted them to the Coumadin he was taking. John was placed on a gurney and transported to the EMT vehicle, thence to the ER. I followed a few minutes later.

Community Hospital Munster was reasonably prompt in assessing John, considering the institutional structures through which such assessments must travel. He went quickly for a CAT scan and a neuro-surgeon was summoned. He assembled a surgical team and ordered a craniotomy, which began around 9:50pm, roughly forty minutes after he was wheeled out of the ER by the anesthesia team. The neurosurgeon, a 37-year veteran of his profession, did not soften his opinion of John's condition nor his prognosis.

During the interstitial times, I worked to arrange alternate transport for the two baritones I had agreed to carpool to the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin, on Thursday. One of them made it, the other didn't. We prepared Beethoven's Symphony #9, fourth movement, this summer. Easy come, easy go, I guess

Thus, Wednesday evening and Thursday morning were times of frantic rearrangement. By today, this period became one of derangement, limited of course by the circumstances.  By today, the panic had subsided and a mix of depression and anger--covert and overt anger--had covered some of the personal scene. One must note, the intervention of significant social contacts is a significant element in the breakup of these emotional "binges". I have had the opportunity to express my grief, frustration and general angst, thanks to the generosity of close friends. There's no subsitute for close friends, to help one through tough times.

John will recover in God's Good Time. I'll post more, later. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My good friend Lisa, in her post today, alerted us Piskie readers to the actions of the Diocese of South Carolina, which she charged might be "secessionist and duplicitous".

I responded, because it showed me the clear, highly charged path between conditions and actions. It's almost as clear as the path that creates a lightning bolt between cloud and ground:

Since 2009, TEC has not received a pledge from the DofSC greater than 0.7% of its income. By contrast, even the DofLouisiana has pledged in the 10-11% range; NC is at 21%, and VA is above 17%. SC is de facto in secession.

I have two proposals, one hard line, the other softer. Hardline? Adopting the principle that one puts one's money where one's mouth is, I propose we replace the entire SC standing committee and bishop based on their failure to do their part to uphold the Church to which they claim to belong. IOW, show me your commitment to TEC by your pledge and its fulfillment. This is the God of Judgement, in spades. There will be winners and losers.

The softer line entails more work. Organize. Create a coalition. Invade the state as CORE did the South in 1961 with its Freedom Rides. Enlist Integrity, HRC, and any other organizations willing to participate. Visit the churches in the DofSC. All of them, if you have the staff. Engage the vestries and clergy. Ask for time to speak to "adult formation". Put human faces to labels like "gay" and "lesbian". You want friends? Be a friend. There are dozens of ways by which you can do this, you know them, you can't do it just by e-mail or Twitter or blogs. You have to be there and make the commitment to be a real friend. Visit a sick relative, hug a stranger, make a phone call in support of a parishioner's need. The softer line converts adversaries into friends. Net, no losers.

The bishop's stance? Up to his congregations. The change starts from the ground up. When the civil rights movement changed us forever, some fifty years ago, did you see the change coming from the top down? Weren't you listening?
 I recognize the risk I have created, that I might be thrust into a leadership role in such an effort. Understand that I greatly prefer a consultative role. I recognize that such a role transfers responsibility to another, whose values may not coincide with my own. I have not given sufficient thought to the morality of such a decision.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update on my final straw

I have no way of knowing that my earlier post was read and understood, but roughly two weeks before the start of General Convention, I was asked to be the network admin for the advocacy group. So, at my first General Convention, I was there helping to set up, operate and close the group's operation. I was even asked if I would serve again in three years. Yes, I replied, but give me some booth time so I can meet deputies and bishops. IMHO, rotating some assignments would help the entire organization improve its perspective on how it fits into the larger community.

It was rewarding to meet deputies and bishops from my diocese, another bishop whom I am privileged to call my friend, and yet other bishops whose posts I have read or who I want to count as friends. The Episcopal Church is an amazing family, I'm barely able to describe how we all relate to each other in any other terms. Being at The Great Episcopal Sausage Factory is an opportunity to watch the Spirit, unseen yet not unperceived, work to bring the Kingdom a little bit closer. As I have experienced the Spirit in a loving relationship, it can be gritty and very real, and still be love.

So, being called back into community, even after having shaken the dust off my sandals, so to speak, I am once again ready to serve. And I will.