Thursday, April 10

Charles, The Beginning of a Story................ 4/10/14

The passageway to happiness and gratitude requires humility,
 having a sense of awe for the simple pleasures of life. 
        I will not complete this story tonight.  It is late and this tale will take time.  But it needs telling.  Installments I'll use.

       When I met him, I didn't understand.  He walked around with a hand on the right corner of his head, where the edge of his forehead met his hairline.

       His hand pushed his head against his left shoulder, cocking it to one side.  With his head in this position, and a hand still placed on it,  he walked tentatively around the mental health center where I worked.  He had been a resident there for two years, when I began work there.  It is so many years ago, I will
honor him by using his real name.

       You will never meet Charles.

       His head was triangular.  His chubby cheeks formed the base of  his head, which came to a point on top.  He would breathe out his laughter in a restrained way, as if cotton filled his mouth.  His gentle eyes matched his soft voice and quiet demeanor.  A patch of curly hair topped his head.  His father, whom he never met, was African American.  His mother was Hispanic.  He was overweight.  And shy.

      The pants he wore were too large.  Slipping down, they revealed his  hairy butt.  You didn't want to see it, after having lunch.  I would know.  On rainy days, while out on the patio on the third floor, he stood alone, wearing no coat, not owning one.

      Many staff members doted on their pets, a resident who received preferential treatment.  Like Richard, who wasn't all there.  This resident had a round mark on his forehead, the size of a nickel.  That part of it was soft, missing the skull. This was was the result of his mother, a RN, allowing Richard to have a lobotomy.  I was told his temper once raged.   Richard always greeted me, by calling me Ben. When I reminded him my real name, he would say my name, not pronouncing the "l".  "Pah bo."  Every time.

      Charles was not pet material.  He was quiet.  Not cute.  And kept to himself.

      Intrigued by his unique behavior, I pulled his chart, he was part of my caseload of twenty-four residents.  The social worker's intake report revealed  his father left his mother when he learned she was pregnant. And then I came upon the most disturbing news in his case history.  Boy was I sad, reading it.

     His mother had  kept him in a closet for a few years.

     Charles' pushing his head to his left shoulder was how he comforted himself, then, as a child, and now, as a young adult. It was a habit kept though he no longer lived alone.  It was his unique quirk while living in a sub-acute psychiatric facility, holding one hundred and twenty residents within its locked doors.
    To be continued...

"Abundance is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy."
My Gratitudes: 
1.  Even though exhausted after seeing several clients today,  I am happy.
2.  I'm taking baby steps towards solving a big challenge.
3.  I am loved and appreciated by many. I enjoy the fortitude derived from my supportive network.  I'm glad I do not live in isolation, that my life is filled with positivity and hope, and I am supported by a loving community.
4.  A few weeks ago, I saw someone who was abusive towards me last November.  I didn't talk with her. I am thankful I was not emotionally triggered when I saw her and kept my distance.
5.  I am thankful for resources that are expanding the service I provide.
6.  I bought a book that I have missed for five years. It is comforting being reaquainted with it. I missed the familiarity with its wording. There is something to be said for the comforting power of continuity.
7.  Today, I learned something new. I am slowly joining the 21st Century. I used a device that is improving my business, providing options for clients.
8.  I was moved by the love and vulnerability demonstrated last night when with friends.  How rich it is, living life fully, being understood, understanding others.
9.  For perspective.  After meeting people like Charles I realize my problems are miniscule. I have had it easy.
10.  Soon, I'll be with a son.  We will cycle where I grew up, near Niles.  Connecting with family is the best of all times. I'll be checking out his townhouse.  His first place on his own.  Wow.

How About You? 
What is your response to this story about Charles?  What is the self-talk you hear within your head?
    May you have a great and grateful day.  I know I will!


Carl H said...

Dear Innkeeper,

On this Saturday night, I am grateful for...

1. A brief but reassuring, even comforting meeting with one of our sons last night.

2. Investing in our marriage today via a one day seminar with my wife on, "Identifying & Manifesting the Dream; Enriching Your Marriage Experience - working through challenges."

3. Exchanging (all too infrequent) mutually poignant and memorable love letters with my wife; mine a steam-of-consciousness, two-page tome that flowed out in that moment and setting.

4. Some special time with my third-oldest son, watching a gritty, intensely suspenseful (foreboding score), well-acted, and ultimately redemptive new Nicholas Cage movie entitled "Joe."

5. Looking forward to seeing a new documentary film tomorrow in Berkeley with another couple; "Finding Vivian Maier." Her back story is fascinating! It is about a reclusive nanny and amateur (no formal training) street photographer; New York City and Chicago, whose work only came to light, most serendipitioiusly, after her death. She is now considered worldwide as one of the most gifted street photographers of the 20th Century.
( and Vivian Maier images on Google)

5. Giving myself permission to file for an extension on my taxes, if I run out of time to finish before midnight on Tuesday. Since they owe us money, I'm sure they won't mind!

Carl H said...

...forgiving myself for listing two number 5's (above). Hey, who's counting anyway, and how important is it, right?

Whitney Connors-Pasion said...

The Story Of Charles...I look forward to sad that one brings a child into the do the horrible things that some makes my heart sad....but in reading your reminds me...we do not need pictures or be able to see Charles.

Today I am thankful...the laughter of children.....for the beautiful day.......for life ;)

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