Monday, July 29, 2013

When the bane of your life is gone, what's left?

Once upon a time, in a little community in the midwest, there lived a very dysfunctional family. Mom, Dad & two children. We'll call the children Sally & Bob.  While the children were still very young, Dad committed suicide. Mom did her best raising Bob & Sally after he was gone, but her best wasn't very good. Or perhaps she was just overwhelmed by the physical, emotional and mental problems she had to deal with: personally, and with her children. Because Bob and Sally never were quite 'right'.
After a few years, Mom died. The children were old enough to live alone in the house they inherited from Mom. Old enough chronologically, that is.  They made a living from delivering papers, riding their bikes all over the small town. And both were active, enthusiastic members of a small Lutheran church. Sally ended up working in the church office, doing the bulletins. Bob skewed a different way. He was a hoarder. A collector of things of absolutely no value. He filled their house with bags and piles of junk. Sally was unable to control him. And unable to get away from him. She did try. Church members found her an apartment [after 3 separate attempts to clean out the house; dumpsters filled with bags of junk, only to have Bob refill it in short order]. But Bob followed her, keeping the house for his junk, but essentially moving in with Sally. Eventually they lost the house. It was condemned & seized. Lots of junk inside, but no care and attention to the structure of the house.  And then Sally & Bob moved into an apartment complex together.
Sally did eventually make the move to a paid job, after another church member taught her to drive and helped her buy a used car. Bob still delivered papers. And hoarded stuff. And increasingly made people uncomfortable by his words and actions. There was just something about him that made people not want to talk to him, or be confronted him. He was scary.
A week ago, Bob died. He was riding his bike, in 95ยบ weather [heat index of 105], collapsed and died.
And I can't keep from wondering: what will Sally do now? After over 60 years of living with with Bob, with dealing with his temper, with his hoarding, with his persistent need to be with Sally [and yes, I have wondered if there was an element of physical/emotional/sexual abuse in this relationship], will she be able to go on without him?

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