Looking Out for Others

Facebook is too public for me. Though I’d like to express myself to friends and family, Facebook is, to me, the equivalent of posting a full-page ad in the newspaper. I’m more inclined to send individual letters to people I know. On the other hand, Facebook has a broader reach than my messages. If my friends and family were regular readers of this blog, I could count on it as a relatively private way of communicating with them. But it’s been years since they have regularly read my blog. Proof positive that what I write bores even my wife and my brothers and sisters. That’s more than a little painful to know, but I understand that, as a writer, the words I put down with my fingers are more for me than for anyone else. I have to believe that or I will spiral into depression. And so I believe it. This blog is not for anyone else but me. Only for me.

My wife and I got back to Hot Springs Village yesterday after a whirlwind trip to Houston and Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi leg of the trip was to attend a book launch, an anthology of writers with a connection with Corpus Christi. I grew up there, from the time I was four or five until the time I left for college at eighteen. So the framework of who I am formed during my Corpus Christi years. But I don’t remember a lot from those years. Yet I know I am who I am because of them.   The trip to Corpus was not stress-free. My brother, who’s seventy-seven years old, underwent surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm about the same time. It was nerve-shattering stuff. We spend an evening in Corpus, celebrating my one and only publication of fiction work, then headed back to Houston. We spent time in cardiac ICU for days. When my brother was put in his own room, we headed home (a day later). But I’m returning as soon as he is released from the hospital so I can help look after him until he regains his strength.

In the meantime, I have obligations to fulfill for my church newsletter and the history project that’s aiming to document the first fifty years of Hot Springs Village. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as important as it once did. Frankly, at this moment, I don’t care about HSV and its history. But I committed, so I’ll do what I can.

Though my brother is doing well and there’s nothing to suggest that anything will change in that regard, I want to cry. I want to upload the emotion that’s been building up in me for days. And I can only imagine my niece’s stress. But she seems so utterly calm. Maybe she didn’t get the same gene I got. I suspect not. My brother tends to be relaxed and able to deal with adversity far better than I. But I am a crybaby. I am not someone you’d want around you in an emergency. I am useless. I function, but not with hope. I assume the worst, I guess. I don’t think I’m always that way, but lately, I feel that. I feel like I ought to find a box and a bottle of gas and just fade, fade, fade away. I know. That’s selfish. I won’t do it. But there are days when I feel utterly defeated and useless. Crap. I guess today is one of them.

But I should be happy. Finally, today, I sold my sister’s old truck. I got far less than I should have, but it’s no longer a financial burden. Yet even knowing it’s gone causes tears to well up in my eyes. I should never have sold it to begin with. I should have kept it as a family heirloom. That’s no longer an option. Never was, really.

A day or two or three from now, I’ll make the nine-hour drive to Houston again to pick my brother up from the hospital and take him to his daughter’s house. I’ll spend whatever time I need to spend looking out after him and then drive home. I hope he recovers fast, both because I want to go home and because I want him to recover and go home where he belongs. Ach! I am so damn willing to wake up from a dream!


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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