It was exactly a year ago when I told you about Picasso, and how we had to ask him to leave the park. That was a hard day. Yet, I was also glad that he would be closer to the things he wanted.
What he truly needed was round-the-clock care, but he would fight you to the death on that one. We tried. We tried to work with him. We tried to override him. So, we got him settled, and have continued to see him at least once a month. He can't afford a P.O. box, so we still collect his mail for him - including his SS check.
Yesterday was the 2nd. We had not yet remembered to take his check into town. When that happens, he always pays someone to drive him out. Yet, it had been almost two full days, and no Picasso. That was not cool. Something was going on.
Right after dinner, I headed into town. I didn't know what I would find. He has never been in good shape. Yet, things have worsened over the last few months.
I knocked on his window ... his window to the world. No answer. He is always home. He has no car, and cannot walk very far. I knocked some more and called his name. So, slowly, I pressed my face against the glass of the window, hoping beyond hope that he would not be lying there on his bed in front of me, lifeless.
He was not there.
Still no relief. What if he had died, and no one had moved the trailer yet?
I knocked on some more doors. One woman, who I had met several times, answered (she would help him out quite a bit, or give him rides occasionally). She explained that he had, indeed, become so ill that they picked him up and took him to a nursing home on doctor's orders.
I knew this would have pissed him off. He never wanted to be in that type of situation. He didn't want people too close. Yet, I was so very glad. I didn't want him dying in that trailer. He deserves better, whether he believes it or not.
This is when my entire night turned upside down. I have had so many tears and move instantaneously from sadness to utter joy. It was a bizarro world. You see, I left his trailer ...
And I found him at the NICEST retirement center in our town. Luxurious and pristine. Excellent care.
I spent a half hour with him. My emotions weren't sure where to land. It was so good to see him doing better. He still can barely walk, and relies on a wheelchair. However, his arms looked pink. Not white from the horrible flaking skin. But actually pink. His eyes were moist and clear. His hair was thicker than it had been. He did not have the air on at all, so it was a complete sauna in there. Yet, even with that, it was the longest I had ever spent with him in an enclosed space. It just wasn't possible before.
His room was really, really nice. He had a TV with cable (had not had a TV in years ... or a phone ... or a refrigerator ... or an air conditioner ... or a bathroom, for that matter).
Yet, if they would let him leave, he would happily go straight back to his trailer this second. He complained about the people (the staff) ... all the many, different people that would come in and out to check on him. He hates that. He doesn't hate people, per say, but he doesn't want to be told to bathe or made to bathe. He doesn't want to feel weak and helpless. He was okay with how things were.
Even though they were so very, very bad and his conditions were going to literally kill him.
I asked if the kids and I could come back, and he was thrilled. I caught him up on all the people out here in our little "neighborhood." Told him that the park is full, and he was excited to hear it. We talked about Willie, and how much we miss him ... reminisced about how those two would sit on a picnic table between their trailers and gripe at each other like brothers.
They brought him there with just the clothes on his back, which I'm sure were quickly incinerated. So, all he has are some sweats and socks from their laundry room. I'll be finding him some Wranglers and a nice button down shirt or two. I didn't see his cowboy hat, so we'll have to fix that, as well. Will try to locate some boots that he can get onto his feet, enough to dress for dinner. At this point he has yet to leave his room most days.
I was leaving, and he said, "Thank you for caring. You are the only person who has come to see me."
My emotions still don't know where to land. I just know I have a lot of them.