I didn’t do it for gratitude. I knew he probably wouldn’t notice the improvements anyway. I did it for my own peace of mind.
I did it so his environment would be safe, clean, and healthy. Our providing him with Life Alert and In Home Services would give him the best possible chance of living the independent life he wanted.
Tim was happy to let us drive him to the Bay area to spend Thanksgiving with our niece while the condo renovation was wrapping up. He made it clear he did not want to come back until his place was ready–no moving back in with us and moving again to his apartment. (I packed an extra week’s worth of his meds just in case.)
The condo was contracted to be ready December 1st.
It wasn’t ready on December 1st. For one thing, the contractor was using toxic chemicals to blast layers of paint off the porcelain tub and had to keep all the windows open–in temperatures we southern Californians consider freezing. For another there was no hardware in the new bathroom sink and the toilet was sitting, seatless, on the floor. The new kitchen linoleum hadn’t been laid yet and the wood floor needed two coats of polyurethane, with 24 hours to dry after each coat. The contractor said he needed another week–and another weekend. I said no to the weekend. We wouldn’t make Tim wait that long. We would be bringing him back Saturday regardless. The contractor would just have to work around him.
Jerry and I spent Friday loading and unloading a U-Haul with all Tim’s furniture and everything we could think of that he would need right away. The next day we drove the 12 hours round-trip to pick him up. When we walked into Naomi’s house and I went to greet and hug Tim, he wouldn’t look at me. He wouldn’t speak to me.
My niece took me aside and said Tim was really furious at me for having to stay the extra week. She told me to stop “micro-managing” him (I’d already stopped because I’m scared of angry men). She told me to let Jerry handle things, told me it would be better for me not to go to Tim’s apartment, that it would just make him angry.
I thought the advice peculiar, assuming that Tim would thaw as he has before. But he said only two words to me, “No, thanks” in response to a direct question, the entire six-hour drive back.
We drove Tim directly to his place. I helped carry some of his things upstairs. Alone with him for a minute, I said, just to be sure, “You know, we did just what you asked. You wanted to wait until you could move directly back here, right?”
“You’re right,” he said. Then, loudly, waving his arms, “You’re always right!” He walked out of the room.
The next day when we took another load Tim stood across the room from me and said, “I don’t need you anymore!”
I was standing by the door. I said falteringly, “Ever?”
He turned to Jerry and commanded, “Don’t bring her back here!”
I said, “I love you,” and left.
As I sat out in the car waiting for Jerry the Lord breathed into my spirit, This is an answer to prayer.
You said, ‘I can’t do this anymore!’
Well yes, of course He was right. I had prayed, begged, screamed at Him, This is killing me! I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate. I’d been having panic attacks, tight bands across my chest, panting, vertigo. At our family reunion when I asked for help and no one would take a turn with Tim’s care, I’d called a suicide hotline.
But Lord, I meant the responsibility. I wanted to lose the responsibility.
I didn’t mean the relationship!