Solid Gray Gunk

Stephen King should envy me my dreams—so creative, so horrible.

I wake and am dreaming, as always, about my sisters—one bank officer and two ordained Methodist ministers.  They never visited me.  They visited each other; they took vacations together; they traveled overseas.  They never drove 270 miles up Rt. 81 to visit me.  I visited them.

At the end of the game, a new psychiatrist asked me if my sisters and I were close.  “Well, what do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Did they come and visit you in the hospital?” he replied.  No, no, they didn’t.  Full of shock and surprise, they came to see me in the first hospitalization back around 1971.  They didn’t come again until 1999, when I spent a month on life-support with no expectation of survival.  They stayed three days then left me alone to die.  All I know for sure is that I wouldn’t have treated them that way.

Well, it’s old news, isn’t it?

It never goes away.  Betrayal and abandonment by family is an excruciating pain that simply never stops.

So, what’s for today?  It was predicted to be sunny and Amelia and I are going to the Crawfish Festival, but the sky is solid gray gunk.  However, it is warm.  Songbirds announce the day through open windows.

I will get up and go on.  Because I must.  I am here; I am alive—but I have neither health nor family, and those are the two things that people cite most often when asked what makes them happy.

I don’t want to be a bummer and tell you how my life goes these days, but it ain’t pretty.  I am alone and lonely.  I cry every day.  High glucose levels have eaten away at my vital organs—my eyes being two that I consider pretty vital—and, as Dick says, “It’s hard to feel good when you feel bad.”

So I will get up and go on and not mention these things again (which, by the way, is why my posts have become fewer and farther between).

But every night of my life I dream about my sisters, whom I loved, and wonder how they could have failed to visit me—especially the two ordained ministers.



About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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