Episode 10 — Adams Street Revisited

Angel of Compassion

       The phone rang at the mortuary mid-afternoon on a brisk autumn day. A house call. Another death at home. I slipped into my usual place, CJ’s jacket pocket. Sometimes  house calls can be a bit dramatic and when CJ feels she might begin to get caught up in the emotions of the situation, I am there, and she holds onto me to shift her focus away as needed.  Besides, I am much softer to touch than a ball of wadded Kleenex.

We start for the home, which is here in town. Bill is CJ’s house-call partner. There must always be two people handling house calls. That is a cardinal rule here. Just as the van rounds the corner of  Adams Street where the call is at, CJ noted aloud, “Hey…wait a minute. Is this house number correct? We were just here a couple of months ago…”  Bill replied, ”It is the Downey residence.” CJ’s brow bunched at hearing that. “Oh no!  This is terrible…poor Mrs. Downey. My God, how are we going to handle this, Bill? It must be awful for her.”

We pulled up to the edge of the curb, backing the van into the driveway. Together, CJ and Bill went to the front door of the modest little house. A thin older woman opened the door and welcomed them inside. Bill cleared his throat and asked which room they would need to go to. The woman motioned to the end of the hallway. The woman beckoned CJ to be seated there on the sofa. The poor woman had been through this drill before. This was the third time in a little more than a year. It would be the last time, also. I could sense a tightening in CJ’s frame. This was very sad, indeed. You see, Mrs. Downey’s husband and two sons all had been ill with Huntington’s disease. It is a sure death sentence, that disease.  When she married Mr. Downey, some forty-odd years earlier, not much was known about Huntington’s. It was known that it was an inherited disease. The cruelest part was in not knowing whether her husband carried the gene. There was no such thing as pre-natal testing for the unborn. The disease was on his side; some of his family had succumbed to it. If he had inherited the gene, there was no way to know until he began to show signs and symptoms, which did eventually present in his early 50’s. By that time, the boys were in their mid-twenties. They appeared healthy. This would not be the case later for both of the sons. Signs had appeared in them before they hit 30.

One by one, first with the father, then with the sons. Each progressively lost their ability to ambulate, think, talk, or take care of themselves. It is indeed an awful course progression, in which the brain degenerates, thus taking the body with it until death is inevitable. Now, the last son had passed away.

The mother was a dedicated woman; she cared for each of them at home, at their various stages of this killer disease. She looked worn and very tired. Too tired to cry at this moment. CJ struggled to find the words she could say that would be of any comfort. What do you say to someone who has lost her entire immediate family? Instead, she awkwardly reached out to the lady to give her a hug. No more was said. CJ went out to the van with Bill, and they returned with the gurney, went down the hall, and carefully placed the man onto it. He was so ravaged he scarcely made a lump beneath the blanket.

They paused to walk away, giving Mrs. Downey a moment to kiss him goodbye for the last time. Then as they rolled him out the front entryway, a tear began to roll down her cheek. CJ’s hand tightened gently around me, remaining there until she was back in the van.

No one spoke during the short ride back to the mortuary. It was just too hard to find words.IMG_0001

10 Responses to “Episode 10 — Adams Street Revisited”

  1. I’m so excited for you.. and for me, too! Why? It’s going to be fun, and something that has my interest to look forward to. That’s amazing about the date …July 29th. Very, very interesting.

    I did have the ‘AHA’ moment… because I was trying so hard to ‘know what in the world made me so interested’ in wanting to keep reading… and the ‘feeling’ I have when I become engrossed… it’s like those wooden floors that are so solid , shining with a glow.

    I just sat here for a moment thinking about that last statement… for-real like ‘old’ wonderful wooden floors that have been there forever… polished thousands of times, always glowing in soft light. It doesn’t make sense… but, that’s what your writing is like….oh, the stories the wooden floors could tell! :)))

    I am so glad to have met you, CJ! :)))

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  2. I am very happy to have found your blog from the very beginning. Your style of writing is awesome. I’m hooked… hook, line, sinker.

    Gloria

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    • Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

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      • :))) I think I’ve caught up now!

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      • LOL! Not too many yet.

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        • I think I have my email set ‘perfectly’ to be sure I don’t miss a post.
          I don’t want to miss even one story. :)))

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          • You are too kind! Gotta look out now because I have never had a “fan” before..don’t want this to go to my head! LOL!

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          • I’m glad to be the first one, CJ. I’m most sincere when I talk to you. So, count on me … I’m here. :)))))

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          • CJ, I am here as your number one fan! And when people begin seeing your new blog… you are going to have many, many fans. I’m so glad I’m here now.

            It’s so different, interesting … one learns as they read your stories. In different ways…

            I just love it… the richness of your words… it’s like ‘walking across a solid floor with no weak spots, or places to fall through’. The wood is glowing with soft light (words) from the oils put on it through time… with a deep, rich shine. That floor is going to last forever. That’s you, CJ!

            Now… I don’t know what you will think about how I really tried to put into words ‘once again’ …. ‘why?’ I love to read what you write. :)))

            There will be ‘next’ times… as I keep trying to find ‘just the right words’ to sincerely tell you. But… that ‘s ‘me’… I am like this. I can give you a ‘million’ descriptions for only one thing… and they all be true.

            Is it because I’m walking around in my mind, studying… paying close attention to each detail because something stands out to me as ‘special’? I recognize something ‘more than ordinary’?

            Yes… why yes… it is. I wrote a book… but… you, CJ… could write … a book. My book isn’t perfect at all… it was a place to put my pain… but, your book would have the richness, quality… mine doesn’t have.

            Please know I’m not belittling my book at all… it’s about one thing…. and yours would be about the same thing… in a different way… from a different perspective.

            I know that sounds like I’m putting my book ‘down’… I’m not at all. My book was written with a goal… I accomplished it once it was published… never giving making money from it a thought(and I’m not even rich! :)))… I made sure my son, only child… Tommy… would never be forgotten. That … was… my sole goal as I wrote my pain.

            Also, when writing my pain and grief… I never had on my mind that ‘I’m writing a book’ as I released what I felt through my fingertips on a keyboard. If I had ‘known’… I would have tried to be more ‘perfect’.

            When I first began my blog… it actually ‘pulled me’ to write… I couldn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t see a doctor, I had never felt such grief in my life; I didn’t want to burden, upset Skip. I sure wasn’t going to get hooked on drugs, and hide.

            Skip and our Pups gave me the strength to dig my heels in, hold my ground… begin fighting for my life… writing gave me a place to ‘put my pain, grief’… so, I wouldn’t be like a damn… and burst. So, I could find moments of peace… like making it to another little island to rest… trying to get back to land.

            My grief, pain for a while… was put in ‘one place’. It made the difference in my life… it helped to ‘save me’.

            Now… if you were to write a book… it would be different… it would be very interesting in many ways. I can see your words… see ‘behind the scenes’ and know ‘what’s really going on’!

            Hey… that’s what is is! ‘That’ is what I’ve been trying to figure out about ‘why?’ I love your writing! I knew I’d know the answer yet! That’s it, CJ. I had to write it out… to figure it out.

            I can ‘see what’s going on behind the scenes’… life isn’t just seeing it one way… there are many ways to see it from a different viewpoint… and see many stories while looking at one thing! I can see what’s happening through Morguie’s eye… the little morgue mouse!

            Now… I realize after feeling excited about getting my answer… it took a lot of words to do it… that I have written a very long comment.

            Should I just delete it… surely no one will care that I just discovered ‘why’ I am so happy about ‘why’ I love someone’s writing? :)))

            I’m thinking … about this. Nope! Nope, I’m going to click on Reply right this minute… do you know ‘why?’

            Because… it’s important to know. Your writing stood out to me as special from the ‘get-go’… I ‘felt something’.

            To get my attention… and God knows I am the most average… well, maybe not average… because ‘I’m me, Gloria’… but, to get ‘my attention like that’ … make me want to take time to really read… there has ‘to be something there’.

            Now… I have figured out ‘what something is’… and that’s because… ‘I can go behind the scenes where ‘real life’ is… not just what it appears to be’.

            CJ… can you see why I am just so happy to have found your writing/blog?

            I hope you don’t mind me writing, figuring ‘out the answer’…. like writing on a sheet of paper when working out a math problem… what it is that fascinates me when reading your stories.

            It’s just ‘being me’…

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          • You had that “AHA! moment!” You are so cute! You know, this is my first time really putting pen to paper to let my experiences unfold in this weird way, through “Morguie” and by gum, I’ve found the perfect vehicle for myself to drive this story to it’s audience. I have never had to make up certain characters like this cat and the mouse before and work it like this little thing…I am a Gemini, maybe that alone explains it all. I just hope I can develop the other people one at a time, who are also based upon those folks I worked with. They could be a book of their own, let me tell you! Lol! The man who would be “Mr B”, bless his soul, he died 9 yrs ago. He was tough to work for at times, but he was like a dad to me. My own dad is also gone now. Want to know something odd? They both passed away on July 29…diff. yrs. They both had such a profound role in my life and I loved them dearly. It doesn’t end there…guess what else? The man I have been blessed to have in my life for the past 16 years, who also has had a profound effect on my world…July 29 is…his birthday. But Mr. B is the only one who will be in the stories…what a character..and it’s all true! I couldn’t make these things up if I tried! Stay tuned..and thanks for being such a great ‘follower’ it helps to keep me moving now.May be able to get the next post for tomorrow out before this evening…

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