Friday, February 22, 2008

A Message From My Neighbor

Last night I came home to find the above message from Evelyn, my eighty-five year old neighbor advising me as to her daughter's current medical condition. Together they share a small apartment in my building with Evelyn the live-in nurse. It may seem cruel to post a message like this but for the past several years I've been listening to her melodramatic updates ("The doctor says she won't make it to Christmas") as to the seriousness of her daughter's many ailments and lately I've grown skeptical. Like other people here, I've run errands for them, lent them small sums of money and offered countless, if meaningless, words of encouragement.

But I've also begun to see more erratic behavior from the daughter as she shuffles through the courtyard in her flannel nightgown with her ever-present flyswatter and smoking her cigarillos ("doctors orders"). Lately she's begun to stand totally still on the landing lost in what I'm guessing is an opiated haze.

The low point occurred earlier this week when the daughter collapsed outside their door. Not surprisingly, Evelyn screamed bloody murder. I dragged her daughter inside but although she was trying to talk, for the most part she seemed merely oblivious to her situation. Later I tried to talk with Evelyn about the possibility that painkillers are a big part of her daughter's problem but she wasn't listening.

In other words, I wish them the best but I've begun to detach myself from their lives.


Debi said...

For a caring person -- and your photos attest that you are -- this little note speaks volumes about the feeling during that moment when you recognize helping doesn't help.

I'm reminded of one of Friedman's Fables titled "The Bridge." If you haven't read it, it might be worth a google. The last paragraph is

At last he said, “I accept your choice,” and let go.

Hikermedic said...

K-I think you're making the right decision. It's always difficult when you care but I was in the medical field for almost 20 years and had lots of addresses that we responded to that we coldly called "frequent flyers" out of exasperation because they just seemed to like the drama and almost always the neighbors and friends were enablers. I know it's probably a tough choice but definitely the right one.

Tore Claesson said...

there's a cruelty to the note.
Like they want the world around them to assuem some guilt or something.

Anonymous said...

This picture is beautiful and haunting.

Fabrizio - ikol22 said...

I honestly didn't realize what she wrote but I love handwriting old style