Back and Forth

My standard morning is not exciting. When I was 25, walking back and forth on a Cleveland ghetto road at six-thirty in the morning is not what I had envisioned my future mornings to be. However, after I get a few cups of coffee into my system, the walk has become necessary. Not so much for me, but for my friend, Rickolas.

See: Rickolas is someone that needs to SCREAM! Not in any mean (or literal) sense. He just needs to vent. To speak without having anyone else around.

I have been elected his official listener.

When you live in a sober house there are ears everywhere. In the kitchen, in all the rooms. When you go to the bathroom you are wondering if there are any deceptive digital devices recording the embarrassing mutters we (well, at least I can admit to it,) sometimes have during the call of nature. Walking up and down the side streets is the only way to carry on a private conversation.

And this morning, Rickolas most certainly had something he wanted to talk about without the rest of the house knowing.

(I don’t even know how I can – or should – write about this. I know that writing can be a form of exploitation, and I noticed people have been reading these posts. So, I am going to try and do this as best I can.)

Here’s the deal:

An elderly individual is having medical troubles. They can not eat due to problems swallowing. Something about burs in his throat. This person has a feeding tube. Food (in the form a liquid not all that different from the product Ensure,) must be administered into his stomach through a tube. Not only does he have to endure this, he also just had surgery on his wrist, preventing him from feeding himself.

He is asking others to do it for him.

We live in a sober house, not a Care Facility for the elderly. None of us drunks and addicts should be held accountable to care for someone in such a state.

How do we even handle the situation?

I know. I know. I know. The standard thing to do is to inform the Executive Director of the house of what is going on. And, to a certain degree, she knows about his condition. She knows he is frail, has cancer which he is going to die from, and professional help (i.e. a nurse,) is becoming more and more a need. (She does not know he is asking help to be fed from the residents.)

In the end, I know this situation is not going to end well. That is just the ugly truth. The man does not want to leave the place he has called home for the past however many years. It is a standard story. But it is still a difficult, frustrating story full of grief and tragedy worthy of a cheap novel. Or a great novel, depending on the author.

Rickolas and I kept walking. After his “outburst” of emotion, after we went up the road yet another time, I’d come to realize the houses on the road were not that bad looking. One or two are empty. The windows boarded up. But most of the homes have nice flowers and plants growing in pots. Shrubs are trimmed. Driveways paved. I have been in much worse places in my life.

I am sure the elderly man has been to some bad places, as well. Hell, I know he has. I wish I could tell him he could go someplace better. Better than the West Side of Cleveland we are in.

But that is not my place.

Nor is it my place (or Rickolas’) to care for him.

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