Involuntary Loner

Grumpy

I lost my brother recently. Thanx for the condolences, but he’s still alive. I just don’t know where the Hell he is.

I am content to be surrounded only by immediate family, and a tiny group of online friends. This is a cautionary tale about seniors growing older, isolated and alienated from society. (Visit your Grandma in the home!)

My grandson is getting married, and we tried to invite my brother to the wedding. His landline number had been disconnected, and his cell phone number had been assigned to someone else.

My daughter contacted his daughter through Facebook, and a sad, protracted tale of woe came to light. He had turned into a grumpy old man with no friends, although it wasn’t clear whether he was grumpy because he had no friends, or had no friends because he was so grumpy – perhaps a bit of both.

His wife left him and divorced him some years ago. He moved 25 miles, to a small village, to be near his older daughter. Within a year, she disappeared, moving out without telling anyone where she went.

The younger daughter admitted that she had been preoccupied with kids going into teenage-hood, and a small, retail business that she runs. His old buddy, “24 beers in a case/24 hours in a day” Norm, hadn’t stopped in to see him in over 5 years. We didn’t improve things, because, despite the wife’s nagging gentle reminders, I hadn’t phoned him in almost 3 years.

He had a lady friend-with-benefits for several years, but he was retired, with time to drive to Florida, and spend some time there in the winter. She had just started a home-cleaning business, with a growing list of clients, who she couldn’t leave hanging, so she also left him.

He had a guy that he’d gone to school and worked with, who would split on gas and motel rooms to attend curling bonspiels in Ottawa, and North Bay. But he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and brother finally called him a God-damn asshole, and dumped him.

There was a pair of male twins his age who used to give him some time, but neither one was interested in curling, and no longer wanted to car-pool and drive 500 miles to watch a NASCAR race. He never read, and he didn’t own a computer.

There was mention of “some trouble with a neighbor” (or neighbors), and apparently what passed for a village council, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, solve his problem. Suddenly, one day, he put his house on the market, sold it and just moved away.

His younger daughter says that she knows physically where he is, and has a telephone number. When she found out about his decision, she tried to contact him. He felt betrayed and abandoned. He said, “Screw all of you! If you weren’t there for me when I needed you, I’m not going to be there for you. The Government knows where I am. The rest of you can go to Hell. I don’t want to be bothered. Don’t give my contact information to anyone.”

My Mother used to say, about his sulking moods, “He just wants to go out in the garden and eat worms.” I am sorry that he feels betrayed and abandoned, and the situation that he’s in. He and I have led very different lives. For obvious reasons, we were never close, but I’ll still miss him.

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WOW #36

Lonely Man

I’m Just a Lonely Boy – or so Paul Anka claimed he was.  I’m not.  Thanx to a chance encounter with a dictionary, (Hah!  As if any encounter I have with a dictionary could be ‘Chance’) I find that I can apply the honorable title of

SOLITUDINARIAN

Noun

a person who seeks solitude; a recluse.

It’s not that I want to beat this concept to death; it’s just that I keep finding more and more dignified words to describe my chosen lifestyle.

Hate People

I don’t hate everybody.  I haven’t met everybody.  Aside from you lovely people, who come here and brighten my days, the less I have to do with the rest of the Smart Phone-wielding, gullible, ignorant- yet opinionated masses, the better for everyone involved.

The chains on my mood swing just broke.
Run!

I once admitted to a reader that I occasionally read Christian web-posts.  Shocked, he demanded to know why I would do such a thing.  It’s not Masochism.  It’s not generally intentional.  It’s that a surprising – almost frightening – number of Christian bloggers label their output with an ‘Atheist’, or ‘Atheism’ tag.

Between them, and the Flat Earthers, and the Conspiracy Theorists, (See Buzz Aldrin’s outrage that the recent movie, First Man, didn’t show the planting of the American flag on the moon) I feel comfortable in my own company.

Many Fundamentalist (with the accent on ‘mental’) Christians refuse to accept the Theory of Evolution, because they don’t want to admit that they might be related to monkeys.  There are just too many folks out there, otherwise known as wastes of space and resources, who act like they are related to jackasses.

Thanx for reading.  See you again soon.  😀

’18 A To Z Challenge – H

Challenge '18Letter H

HERMIT definition (for 10-year old boys); a man who goes off by himself

We live in a medically marvelous age.  Average life expectancy has almost doubled since my birth.  It was not always thus.

Once Upon A Time in the Old West, Ben Cartwright lived on the Ponderosa ranch, with three sons and a male cook, and not a woman in sight.  Life was particularly hard on women, especially during childbirth, with no doctor handy.

Old Ben had three very different sons.  There was handsome, intelligent Adam.  There was big Hoss, strong as an ox, and almost as smart, and there was smartass, ADHD Little Joe.  The writers may have had a back-story which explained the vast variation among My Three Sons, but many who watched the TV series were baffled.  Finally, several seasons in, they had Ben explain the history and reasons, to Joe (and the audience).

Ben brought an Eastern bride with him when he moved west to achieve fame and fortune.  She gave him Adam, and died.  Ben then married a strapping daughter of a Swedish family from Minnesota, who were moving to California.  She produced Hoss, and also died.  Finally, Ben married the daughter of a town merchant.  She died in childbirth, producing Joe.

My paternal grandfather also experienced similar heartache and heartbreak, but he didn’t have Ben Cartwright’s grit and tenacity.  When the going got tough….he became a hermit.

He married early, and had three kids, two girls, and a son whom he named Cecil – and his wife died.  With the help of an older, unmarried sister, he took care of them until the wife’s clan took them in.  This was a family that my Father was totally unaware of, until his half-brother tracked him down, after he was 65.

After a couple of years, Grandpa remarried, and again, had two girls, and then a boy, my Father, whom he named Cyril. Four years later, his second wife died while delivering another daughter.  Grandpa just disappeared, leaving the older sister, and the rest of his family, to take care of 4 kids, including a baby.

I met never-married ‘Aunt Jesse’ (actually my great-aunt) later in life.  She may have been the first instance in my life of, Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell.  Her actual name was Jezebel, but the devout Baptist would never let it be used.

I don’t know if my Father knew where his father was for almost 20 years.  When I was 4 or 5, my Dad began to take me to visit him, two miles up a concession road, off a nowhere highway.  He was living in a wooden, 2-man logging shack, by the side of the road.  It had a two bunks, a table and two chairs, a latch-string door, (look that one up) one tiny window, a wood-burning stove, no electricity, and a hand-pump for water.  The sink drained outside, but there was no bathroom….and I don’t remember an outhouse.  I used to water a nearby Maple.

After ten years of this, my Grandpa got an offer from a nearby farmer.  The farmer had bought the adjoining farm.  Now he had two farm houses, two barns, and two sets of animals, so he paid my Granddad a little, to live in one farm house, as a caretaker.

As a house, this was a big step up.  This one had central heat, hot and cold running water, a bathroom, and lights.  There was no radio, and no TV.  He had copies of the weekly paper from the nearest small town, but I never saw magazines or books.

Probably, after Dad located his Father, his three sisters (and their spouses) must have visited him from time to time, although we never met anyone else when we visited.  The farmer may have at least passed a little time with Grandpa when he came over to do chores, but he must have been alone for days – weeks – at a time.  As a loner, he makes me look like a rank amateur.

I look forward to your company here, again in a couple of days.  Recommend me to a friend – or an enemy.   😳

 

Flash Fiction #74

Cliff

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

ON THE EDGE

I was always the loner, the social misfit, alone in the corner at parties.  They said, “Have a drink.  It’ll loosen you up.”

One didn’t, but 8 or 12 did.  I felt witty, amusing, entertaining – accepted, until I reached the precipice.

“Did you hear what that drunken asshole said?”

I wasn’t addicted to alcohol, but to being part of ‘The Group.’  They didn’t accept me; they barely tolerated me, kept me as a Court Jester, an object of derision, to be laughed and jibed at.

Stubborn Scottish pride soon cured that.  Now I carefully choose my friends, stone cold sober.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Home Sweet Home

SavortheFolly wondered what it was like, growing up in a small town.  She seems, sadly, to have left the blogosphere.  We can only hope that things turn out well for her and she returns at some future time.  For her, and for the rest of my readers who don’t doze off, I present this little trip back in time, to see what shaped little Archon into what he is today.

The road to “different” and “loner” probably started on the property, and, in the house where I was born.  When I was born, there was no hospital in my town.  I was astounded to discover that, because, diagonally across the corner from my house, was a hospital.  I was born at home, because at that time, the “hospital” was a summer tourist lodge.  It failed, financially, when I was a couple of years old, and the town seized it for back-taxes and converted it.

Three years after I was born, my mother went to a birthing home in the next town, a week before her due date, to give birth to my brother.  She said it was actually a horrible experience.  There were no TVs and no radios.  The drapes were always drawn, and the expectant mothers were expected to remain quiet and in bed.  You could cut the boredom with a butter-knife.  Immediately after giving birth, women who hadn’t moved a muscle for a week or more, were expected to get up and go home.  If Dad hadn’t held her up, she said she’d have collapsed on the floor.

Ours was an older neighborhood.  I was the only non-teen child for two blocks in any direction.  My ten-year-older half-sister managed to fit in, but I learned how to play by myself.

Our property consisted of three building lots, two on the main road and one across the back, on the side street.  When I got old enough to help, there was a vegetable garden, a flower garden in front of it, and a huge lawn to mow with a manual push mower.  Our property was unique in the town, and possibly in all of Ontario, in that, of home properties with trees, ours was the only one without a single maple tree.

We had two poplar trees.  We had three mountain ash, two elm trees, two lilacs, planted before I was born and grown to almost tree size, and a horse-chestnut.  I don’t know how we got the horse-chestnut.  It’s native to southern Asia.  All those great big nuts, and they were bitter and poisonous.  At least we could throw them at each other and mount them on strings, to play conkers.

Dad sold the lot on the side street.  Years before, it had been a farm orchard with apple and pear trees.  All of those were dug out except two pear trees at the back edge of our lot.  Eventually these too, died.  Dad cut off all the branches, leaving two trunks about six feet tall.  He strung a steel cable between them for an auxiliary clothesline.  No dryers, back then, or Laundromats, you washed clothes at home and hung them outside, to dry.

We had tax records of “barn and sheds” from 1848, and “house and sheds” from 1852.  The house was built somewhere in those four years.  We were only four blocks off the retail district, but this had been a farm.  The foundation of the house was three feet thick, built with the stones taken from the tilled fields.  The basement beams that held the house up, were roughly squared elm trees that had been cut down to clear fields.  The bark was still on some sections of them.

When piping was installed for the kitchen sink, it was put right up against the stone foundation, to reach the sink, mounted on the outside wall.  If we had a particularly cold winter, sometimes the pipe, (cold water only at that point) would freeze, and Dad would have to go down to the basement with a blowtorch or real torch, made of an old shirt on a stick soaked in lighter fluid, and thaw it out.

There was a full? basement under only half the house, and it was only about five feet tall, to the bottom of the beams.  The floor was bricks.  We were up on a hill, thirty feet above a large pond a block away, and fifty feet above Lake Huron, but, apparently the water-table was high.  We lifted a few bricks, and the holes started filling with water.

The ceilings in all the rooms were twelve feet high, almost impossible to heat.  One room at a time my father and a friend put in false ceilings to the top of the windows, only eight foot-six.  We punched a hole in the upper wall of the attic stairway, and my brother and I crawled out on the new ceiling and broke holes between the studs on the outside wall, and poured in loose fibreglass insulation.  The first room we did was during a hot summer, so we wore only shorts and sleeveless shirts….and ITCHED for days.  As we did each successive room, we learned to wear long clothing.

When I was about eight, Dad had installed a propane water heater.  Till then, water for laundry or baths was boiled in a couple of huge copper pails, on a wood-burning stove, even in the summer.  A couple of years later Dad had a propane furnace installed.  We’d had the wood-stove in the kitchen and a coal-fired “furnace” in the living room.  One year we had a thaw and then a refreeze.  When it thawed the second time, water poured in through the stone foundation and burned out the new furnace.  We still had the wood stove, but it was a cold couple of days till we got the water pumped out and the new furnace repaired.

In the winter, it was cold enough in the mornings to see my breath, in my bedroom.  I would often grab my clothes and run into the living-room and stand beside the now red-hot furnace and hold my clothes up to warm them, before I put them on.  One day, I shucked off my pyjama bottom and went to put on my undershorts, and caught my toe and fell sideways.  I left the skin from one ass-cheek on the furnace.

There are portions of my childhood that I wish were still available to me, but there are as many, or more, that I’m just as glad are long gone.  Vive technology.