Hal is one of the most positive people I have met.
I mention this as he is signing up for hospice and knowing that life is slipping through his fingers. He tells me that he did NOT learn this from his mother.
She is described to me as a person who was neurotic and narcissistic. He never heard her say “I love you” but he did hear the statement, in more ways than he cares to remember, “I should never have had children. I never wanted to be a mother. I never wanted you”. His critical and emotionally abusive mother created a vast sense of unworthiness for him through the majority of his childhood, well into adulthood. I don’t doubt that some of the stories I do
not hear contributed to his years of drowning overwhelming misery in an alcoholic haze. At some point in his middle years, he began to emerge from this sea of sadness, to become a different person.
It wasn’t easy, he tells me, but he has remained sober and a part of Alcoholics
Anonymous for over 30 years. Along this path, he found a faith that changed his nature, and made him practice “positivity”. He is engaging, lighthearted, and funny, and has these quips that I feel should be written down for posterity. I can’t imagine the person he says he was once, “downtrodden and bitter, full of meanness”.
At my visits, I don’t mention much about Hal’s disease: we know it is the elephant in the room, but there is no need to discuss it. He totally accepts the fact that he is dying, and he tells me he visualizes himself as a space ship, “ready to fly out of here”.
I love this mental image of Hal, strong and blazing. I share a story with him, knowing I am meant to tell him about the little five-year-old I know: I watched, while with great concentration, he took colored markers and made a picture for his mother who lay in the other room, wrapped in a beautiful shroud with a pocket over her heart to hold the family’s messages for her next journey. The wise little fellow drew a brilliant and beautiful space ship, with a huge red heart, pointing to its center and telling me that his mommy was in this space ship and headed to heaven.
Hal says, “Ah, yes, a child close to God before the world has dashed his perfect view”.
And we smile at each other, in a moment of perfect and positive understanding.