Frailty, Thy Name is Life

About this time last year I woke up one morning at 5:30 to let the dogs outside and noticed a voicemail. Almost no one leaves me voicemail. Most people who call me live across the street or next door. Other friends use FB chat to call me. I listened. It was the Good X. He’d had a heart attack the evening before. He was calling from the hospital. He had nearly died and wanted to talk to me. What do you do with an X whom you like, whose boys you helped raise, whose grand-kids are your grand-kids? What do you do with the entire mysterious denouement of life?

His wife is not a friend of mine. What do you make of a woman to whom you GIVE $4000 for a down payment on a house who then calls back and tells you that you OWE them more when you don’t OWE them anything? Yeah, I’d just sold the house the Good X and I had lived in, and yes, he’d made payments on the house I sold, but only 4 years compared to my 17 and then he was unemployed half of that time, and I was supporting him? Never mind I had to make a down payment myself on a new house. OH WELL. That’s life on Planet Weirdness. But the evening the Good X had a heart attack, she had recognized what was going on and taken him to the hospital in time for them to put stents in some of those important heart corridors and save his life.

I might not like his wife, but still I wouldn’t want her to suffer that. The Good X is a very nice guy and they’ve held together some 20 odd (I’m sure they have been odd) years.

“They call that heart-attack the ‘widow-maker’.” The Good-X is a very intelligent guy, who happens to be somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum. I learned to “read between the lines” after a while to find the emotional content behind his words. “I am scared and wanted to talk to you.”

A few months later I received an old book about Switzerland in the mail. I knew it was from him only by the post mark… Good X communication is different but wonderful in its way.

Last night, for some reason, I looked at a one of the posts I wrote during March 2020 after walking at the Refuge with Bear. It was beautiful. I was surprised by it and read a couple more. I decided to put them together in a little illustrated book, maybe just for myself, but maybe for a wider audience. I’m now (you knew this right away, didn’t you?) typing on my new computer. It’s a MacBook Air. I love it. All the stuff Apple advertised — screen, key-stroke, touch pad that I thought “Who cares? What I’m using is all good” is amazingly better. OH well. God bless those who complain, I guess. Anyway, “she” (my computer) seems to want a project…

16 thoughts on “Frailty, Thy Name is Life

  1. Most people with Asperger’s end up spending their entire lives as square pegs trying to fit round holes in a word where square holes are rare.

    Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Still there but retirement makes it a bit easier.

    • Yep. The Good X has to figure out “systems” for the expression of feelings he actually has but without some of the more “ordinary” tools for sharing them. Once I understood him, I came to really appreciate them — things like the book about Switzerland or wearing a T-shirt when he comes to visit that, on the front, has the graphics for the first US/China expedition up Everest. That’s the Good X way of saying, “I love you, I’m glad we’re friends now, and I value all of our memories.” It’s not just the square pegs who have to struggle with this; those of us who love them have to figure out the square pegs’ language. His younger son — with whom I’ve always been close — is somewhat less of a square peg, maybe a hexagon. He’s one of the most awesome people I know.

      • Most people know nothing of the condition and just assume you’re that way out of bad choices. The people who do have a clue got their models from the media. You’re either Sheldon Cooper or you’re Rain Man. One is a TV series about an eccentric genius and his eccentric crew and the other is a Tom Cruise-Dustin Hoffman movie about a autistic guy who is incapable of existing in the world without a caretaker. Both are about savants.

        I’ve never fit in with proper society and OTOH I’m not a savant. I am able to function and be productive but most employers are either looking for specific “savant” skills I don’t have or one’s social skills are more important than anything else.

        Only thru dumb luck and persistence have I put together employment that has kept me intermittently in the middle class. I could very easily have worked jobs paying slightly better than minimum wage my entire life. I never did manage a real career. If I couldn’t be a good provider, I’d never have married or had a family.

        Spent most of my teens and early 20s right on the edge of suicide. It was a near run thing. Moving to California put me in an area where the large population allowed me to find a niche. If one in a thousand people click with you, in a small town you may never meet anyone.

        Greater LA meant there were 30,000 people and some of them might just accumulate. I found some solace in Mensa, nudists, and D&D/war gaming. None of these existed where I grew up.

        Sorry I’m dumping on you but it felt appropriate to the topic.

        BTW, I’ve posted a few more SoCal hikes if you are interested. They include a rattlesnake.

        • I need to catch up on reading posts. I’ve been tied up with illustrations, company and other stuff including trying to hold my shit together which has been touch and go at times. 🙂

          The Good X is one of my favorite people in the world, but he was a terrible husband. He cheated on me numerous time when a more constructive method would have been counseling. I’m very intuitive and empathetic, but NO one needs NO emotional verbal communication. I’ve recently learned that he honestly believed I could read his mind so he didn’t need to try to communicate. I was constantly having to explain him to his sons. “Does dad love us?” “Well yeah, Josh, he built you and Ben bicycles. That’s Daddy Jim’s language.” He got help for this after we split up.

          He and his step-grandson came to visit a couple years ago. It was really nice and reminded me how well we did together in the day-to-day and what good friends we were. He means a lot to me. I admire him very much for all the ways he worked to “overcome” what is truly a pretty big liability in a world of “normals” and having sought help to figure out why his relationships always broke apart. He did find a career — he is a talented computer programmer — but the social skill stuff interfered with job security. He’s an amazing grandfather. I’ve also learned that NOW he looks back on our time in China as the greatest thing he did in his life, but that he was terrified most of the time and believes I’m incredibly courageous. I’m not. I’m just not him, but that’s not something I can explain to him. I wish things had worked out between us because at this point in our lives we’d enjoy each other, but neither of us could have experienced the growth we’ve had in the mean time if we’d stayed together. I have “issues” of my own that I wasn’t able to identify or contend with back then.

          Marriage is just difficult in the best of circumstances.

  2. I’m glad you’re putting those together in an illustrated book! How exciting! I can relate to your story of your Good X. I’ve had a few X’s. Abuse is intolerable. Sadly, I put up with it for years before I stood up. It’s such a different kind of satisfaction when the past and the present bond with a common understanding, appreciation, and bond that survived the shattering. Grace at its best. It’s a gift you two share-it’s rare. And I understand it.

  3. I’m excited that you have a new computer and are compiling a small collection of your posts (which I keep telling you are awesome)! I have only been married once (thankfully) and yes it is not an easy thing. My ex-boyfriend (the one who proposed to me twice) is still a friend but I’d question his motives if he called me. Because we aren’t close after all these years… I’m not surprised that the Good-Ex has fond memories of your time together. As we look back on life we have perspective that is lacking in our youth… No wonder there are so many who wish they knew then what they know now!

  4. I was distracted by the “Good X” because it made me wonder, “Is there a Bad X?” And then, “How many Xes are there?” And further, “How do you make X plural? That doesn’t look right!” And finally, I need to go pee. So, obviously my insights are worth squat right now. But still, it was interesting to read what is going on in your realm! Let’s hope there are no more ‘widowmakers’ of any kind in your future!

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