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scavenging for silver linings - The Literary Exhibitionist
scavenging for silver linings

-- चार हजार और चवालीस --

I'm coming down with a cold. Scratch in my throat started yesterday. I'm combatting it with all the natural remedies at my disposal. Placebo effect or not: whatever works. I feel like it's working.

I walked home from work last night in light rain, listening to Tracy Chapman's 1989 album Crossroads. Shobhit made rice and potatoes and lentils for dinner, which I dished up to have with one of the garlic naans we got from QFC. Shobhit was having Sachin over to visit -- and also feed -- and he gave up on Girls on HBO after the first season, so I took dinner to my desk in the bedroom to watch the two episodes of season six that are currently available, on my computer. They were very good episodes. I thought season five was the best and so far this season looks just as promising.

Later in the evening, before I went to bed, I spent some time scanning documents Shobhit needed pdfs of to send to banks in India for tax purposes. Something he has to do every couple of years, apparently. I have far less clear a picture of his individual finances than I probably should. It's the opposite of his interest in mine, as he's constantly wanting to be all up in my business about how much I am spending and on what. I have far fewer accounts of any kind than he does: a 401(k); an IRA; a checking account and a savings account. Shobhit has stuff all over the place, in both the U.S. and in India. It massively complicates the tax filing process, which is why I happily leave that up to him. I suspect it's also why he doesn't get his panties in as much of a twist when I make charitable donations, because those are tax deductible.

-- चार हजार और चवालीस --


-- चार हजार और चवालीस --

Before the document scanning, I finally decided to call Mom. I knew Christopher -- my brother -- had gone to stay with them, but had no idea if he was still there. I don't think I had even talked to Mom on the phone since Christmas Day. (Just checked my latest bill, which appears to confirm that. And I only talked with her for seven minutes that day.)

Knowing that Christopher had been there and maybe still was, I started the conversation by playfully saying, "So what's going on? Anything new?"

Mom chuckled. "Well, Christopher's here." Well, there's that question answered. Both she and Christopher said he may be there a while, whatever "a while" might turn out to mean. It could mean him still being there in May, when I intend to visit for Mom and Bill's 20th anniversary, in which case Mom would have both her sons with her at the same time for the first time in more than a decade and a half. I'm thinking seventeen years, but don't know for sure. I may be able to find out by looking though some of my archives of letters to Barbara. (The broader implications of an unemployed semi-suicidal depressed 44-year-old living with his long-unemployed disability-supported post-stroke mother is, I suppose, a conversation for another time and place.)

Talking to Mom was somewhat more of a challenge than usual. She mentioned a specific linguistic struggle that may be cause for concern: in the past, she couldn't remember words. She says now she can remember words, and knows them in her head, but often can't pronounce them. This, after years of experience with Sherri's late mother, strikes me as a classic stroke symptom. Mom's stroke was in July 2014, and within a year she was roughly 80% recovered, from being nearly unable to speak any words at all, to being able to hold conversations nearly as well as she could before, although Danielle, ever the pragmatist, warned me from day one not to expect Mom ever to be fully recovered.

But once she was recovered as well as it seemed she ever would, her only real struggle seemed to be being unable to recall words here and there. Now she says she can recall words but just can't say them. Then she said on the phone to me last night, "I think I might be getting dementia. Ha ha ha ha!" Actually the symptoms of a stroke and getting dementia are not the same thing. I think even Shobhit needs that clarification, because this was causing him concern last night to the point that he was encouraging me to start playing "brain games" to help ward off Alzheimer's. Strengthening brain capacity is not a bad idea regardless, but his motivations are likely a tad misplaced. Either way, Shobhit is afraid of me inheriting some of these afflictions.

At least I'm neither diabetic nor depressed. When it comes to depression, I'm practically clinically the opposite.

I have to say, though, that Mom did seem to struggle with speech a bit more than she has in a while. I wonder how much stress this whole thing with Christopher has caused her? At the moment, she and Bill -- neither of whom have jobs either -- are supporting him. These people aren't exactly in optimum shape themselves, either physically or psychologically. To be fair, Christopher ran out of options. I'm still not sure it was the best idea for him to take the family van and skip off to Wallace a hundred miles from home, but given that I'm not part of all these problems (nor do I want to be), neither am I sure that it wasn't his best and/or only option.

I asked Mom if she knew in advance that Christopher would be coming. She said yes, that he called her from the recovery facility he'd gone to immediately after the suicide attempt in September (or just "the attempt," as Christopher kept euphemistically referring to it) and had returned to last month after separating from Katina. He then drove out to them a week later, and has now been there a couple of weeks. He'd driven back into Spokane just yesterday for a court hearing regarding the restraining order Katina filed against him, but when I asked Mom, she said he was back, and was actually in the living room right then. She and Bill were back in their bedroom.

So, Mom asked if I wanted to talk to Christopher. I won't like, I had mixed feelings about that for a multitude of reasons, but I said, "Sure." So then my brother and I talked for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and it was a pretty somber affair. Until a judge makes a decision about his custody or visitation rights, he's not allowed to communicate with the boys, all three of whom still live with their mother. "I even blocked them all on Facebook," he said, "so I wouldn't get into trouble." This was easily one of the saddest things I had heard in some time.

Katina had a statement prepared, detailing her justification for filing the restraining order, which when Christopher was talking to me about it he declared "all lies and slander." She listed questionable behavior of Christopher's which, ridiculously, reached all the way back to when they were in high school. Who gives a shit what stupid things he did 25 years ago? That said, there was another allegation listed that Christopher basically characterized as half-true, but which to my mind sounded legally like an admission. All I could think, which I chose not to tell him, was, This is not going to help you.

Nor, likely, is the fact that he attempted suicide six months ago. All I can hope for -- or, more importantly, all he can hope for -- is that they wind up in front of a judge who can cut through all the bullshit, of which there is a lot. Obviously neither of them have lawyers; they can't afford that. If just one of them could, it would be all over for the other. It's all going to come down to how well they each defend themselves -- and given who they both are, that's going to be tricky indeed.

Apparently everything is on hold until the next court date, now March 6, because unbeknownst to Christopher (although I suspect he could have known had he had the wherewithal to do some research, rather than just expecting that someone should have told him), he was supposed to provide Katina a copy of his counter statement, which had not happened prior to yesterday's hearing. So: no communication at all with his boys at least until then. During which, of course, Katina will have ample opportunity to mold their impressionable minds on the matter.

The girls, Nikki and Becca, are a different story. They are both landing squarely on the defense of their father, being out on their own and old enough to come to their own conclusions.

I just keep hoping this will all blow over in a few months in one way or another, so that I can keep civil lines of communication open with Katina, who I think we can safely assume will retain custody no matter what. (The real question will just be Christopher's visitation rights.) The way all this potentially affects me directly is how easy it may or may not be to have the boys come visit me for their requisite weekends again this summer. I do not want to make an enemy of their mother, who will almost certainly have the tightest reins on her sons' travel opportunities.

When I was still on the phone with Mom, she asked if I was still Facebook friends with Katina. I made a mistake and just a few minutes ago actually had to go into one of our phone rooms at work to call Mom real quick and correct myself. I am still Facebook friends with Katina, but last night it looked like she had unfriended Mom, and that's what I told her. But I guess I had some kind of filter on when I looked and didn't realize it, because when I look today at Mom's and my "mutual friends," both of Katina's Facebook accounts (only one of which am I friends with) come up -- so Katina has not unfriended Mom, or Bill for that matter. I had to make sure Mom did not go on thinking she had, and Mom seemed kind of relieved and certainly glad that I called to let her know.

Katina is not, of course, still Facebook friends with Christopher -- who, as it happens, a few weeks ago created a new account of his own and re-friended a bunch of people, including me, there.

Hmm. I just checked Tristen's account. Looks like he's now got . . . three of them?? What the shit. Anyway, I'm still friends with one of them. Nice to know, since well before all this current shit, he would friend and unfriend me frequently, which I always suspected was a parent telling him he should not be Facebook friends with me, until he later friended me again. I've received friend requests from the other boys too but they are under the age you are supposed to be even to have a Facebook account, and I don't really feel comfortable accepting friend requests from kids who are too young, even if they are related to me. Given some of the stuff I post, even at age 13 it seems iffy at best. (When Hope, Jennifer's daughter, first sent a request, I brought it up to Jennifer, and she was just like, "I'm okay with it if you are.") Tristen is 16, and will be 17 in May.

Anyway! Drama, drama, drama. None of it mine, thank God. The only thing else I can think of to say about it is this: if Christopher is still there when I visit in May, and especially if Shobhit also comes, it's going to be . . . interesting. But a really nice thing for Mom, if nothing else. It's obviously not worth all the troubles, but I'm choosing to see the possibility of Mom finally having both her sons together with her again as at least one silver lining in all this. But, that's me -- always finding the silver lining.

-- चार हजार और चवालीस --




positive energy please