As with many aging individuals, Donald Senior resents God. He blames him for the passing of his late and dear wife. Childishly believing that maybe God awoke that morning; Ate breakfast, brewed some coffee, fired up a quality cuban and sat back in his study. Wearing a white smoking jacket and cravat – meticulously planning his beloveds demise.
To pass his days of pain and misery Donald Senior plays golf.
Donald arranges a ‘4 ball’ with three other golfing chums at a rather prestigious club in south Manchester. The boys are familiar with each other so the banter begins immediately.
As golf is a non-contact sport, a large proportion of the damage is done in the mind. Players trade mental blows, combinations of cerebral jabs and emotional uppercuts and hooks that shake your confidence. Never forgetting that defence is as important as attack.
We Tee off at day break. Its a beautifully clear day and the ground has a misting of dew. Donald is the first to go. We listen to his pre-match excuses and grumblings about a sore shoulder and his bad back . . .yada, yada, yada!(boring). He takes an age to finally produce what can only be described as ‘a pathetic shot’. In the golfing world we referred to these types of shots as a ‘Sally Gunnell’ (an ugly runner . . . sorry Sally!). He had pushed the ball right into a grass verge which is separating the fairways.
His ball was in danger and he knew it!
He then takes a new ball and plays a second provisional shot (3rd) and behold the same happens again! Another pathetic attempt! With 2 balls now in danger and frustrations running high, he is forced to take a third ball and yet another shot (5th). The underhand comments and sniggers begin. Even his own partner is making it apparent that he is finding Donald Senior intolerable.
Unbelievably, in an unlikely turn of misfortune, against the odds it happened again. At this point, Donald knew that the job was f*cked! We continue to play our shots, then as a group we make our way down the fairway accompanying Donald to retrieve and play his 3 balls. To our amusement and Donalds dismay, none of the balls were retrievable. In fact, not one of them were to be seen. How was this even possible? The balls were bright green! Maybe they’d disappeared into the Bermuda triangle of golf balls.
Donald Senior was as discombobulated as we were. But his confusion soon turned into rage. Like his estranged balls, he turned rather green and his eyes were as black as thunder clouds. In a hulk like fashion he began to scream with all the hate and fury he had buried deep within him. Shaking his clenched white fists at the sky, club in hand, he bellowed “GOD YOU’RE A C*NT!!!”.
The words pierced the atmosphere, they echoed off the trees and reverberated back at us with force and vigor. We all fell silent. The 4 ball behind us fell silent. The 4 ball on the green in front fell silent. The birds on the trees fell silent. We couldn’t un-hear what we had just witnessed. We were all just stood there awkward in the shame that he had created. Everyone’s eyes fell upon Donald and were staring at him dumbfounded. Did he just call God a c*nt? Did he? Not only did he break societal decorum, he had obliterated all the rules and etiquette of the course and the game itself.
I felt sad for Donald Senior for being so blocked. It must be very vexing hating something you disbelieve. The fact of the matter was; whilst Donald carried so much anger and hatred with him, he was never gonna win at anything in life, let alone a game of golf!
I broke the silence. The words just fell out of my mouth. . .
“It’s not Gods fault you’re shit at golf!” and in full view of Donald Senior i looked at the sky “Thank-you god!” in reference to our victory!
The year is drawing to the end – praise be, A funny old year for my family and me.
Two diagnoses of cancer a death and addiction, they all come to me with their afflictions.
I’m a pretty strong woman who has her ‘sh*t together’, happy-go-lucky and rarely under the weather.
But ‘Oh my gosh! ‘ my year has been madness, this once savvy lady now consumed with a sadness… I wouldn’t say depressed, no ‘black dog’ lives here, but my anxieties are visible through my continuous tears.
They just won’t stop!…
Out comes the emotion – no more repression, my boyfriend says “Darling it’s a good way of expression. Now stop trying to maintain that stiff upper lip, look after your soul and maybe go get some kip!”
The tightly wound spring is starting to ease . The years worth of strife begin to appease.
But the tears, they’re still coming in spurts through the day, induced by ‘just things’ that get in my way…
I cry at the puddle, the toilet, the car, I cry in the traffic jam and then in the Spar. I cry that there’s no carrots to go with my peas, when I slipped on the ice and fell on my knees. I cry because I can’t find my sons waterproof pants, I cry because I forgot to water my plants. I cry hearing the brass band playing carols on TV and that the cat knocked the decorations off the Xmas tree.
I just don’t stop…
All this crying is good. My boyfriend knows best. Because whilst I’m doing all this crying; I’m certainly peeing less!
I’m sat on the settee with my love. He’s passing me grapes. The cat’s getting in on the action, purring away and lording it up. It’s the first glimpse of normality we have seen in days, if you could call our current life normal.
It’s really late. My phone has died so I’m unaware of the time, but i do know that it’s past midnight. At this moment in time its irrelevant, I’m just enjoying the moment. We’re talking and giggling about the stories we’re going to write – Hes aware that I’m scribbling away as we chat.
“A spoonful of sugar helps the methadone go down!” he sings…
He knows silly things like this make me laugh and he knows how much i enjoy it when he sings to me. It was one of the things that drew me to him on our first date. He knows how much worry he has caused me these last weeks. He reaches out and holds my hand and gives it a squeeze. Our eyes meet; we look at each other. The look is that of reassurance to each other that things are on the mend and the intention is there. I ruin the moment by reminding him that we need a new toilet seat.
He’s spent the past week living in the bedroom like a hermit. Sleeping all day and only leaving the house for his ‘fix’ and more recently his methadone script. Back to sleep and intermittently spending long periods of time in the bathroom whilst I’m sat with my legs crossed watching crap daytime television waiting for my turn.
It’s no secret that opiates affect the bowel function somewhat. Constipation can cause one to feel pretty dreadful. One particular day he was writhing around holding his stomach in pain. His belly was as hard and round as a barrel. I went to the chemist for a remedy, unfortunately they didn’t sell dynamite but they did have glycerin suppositories. I’ll spare you the details of the plan of attack, but let’s just say; He got the rocket up the ass that he needed. It took a while to take effect, but boy did it work! I joked that i always suspected that he was full of sh*t! His day was spent in the lavatory, mine was spent burning Nag Champa incense sticks.
Everything seemed to go quiet. The cursing has ceased and the toilet hadn’t been flushed in a while. I thought that i had better do a welfare check. The cat was frantically scratching the carpet by the bathroom door, he wanted in. I explained to the cat that it was probably best he didn’t go in the bathroom. I cautiously opened the bathroom door, the cat dashed in between my legs, and i was met by a very naked boyfriend. He was sat fast asleep on the loo, letting out an occasional loud snore. I gave him a shout to wake him up, surely he couldn’t be comfortable. He roused “I’m alright love, I’m alright!” . . . that was a matter of opinion! I returned to the living room and continued to watch Richard and Catherine pick which ‘place in the sun’ they wanted.
A short while passed. All of a sudden there was a almighty bang and clatter. I already anticipated what had happened. I dashed upstairs, and there he was, his knees on the bathroom floor and his head in the bath. A crumpled up mess. a sight to behold! It was that catalytic moment that induced me into floods of tears. normally I’d have a sense of humour, but that was long gone along with my patience. Nothing seemed sacred anymore, not even the toilet seat.
. . . And suddenly I arrived at the bitter realisation that my mental state was suddenly an analogy of the toilet seat. The thread had gone and buckled and broken under the pressure.
“Give your burdens to the lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall”
These are words of comfort that i sent to a friend this morning…
When i read them again, I realise they are words of advice that i should probably take heed of myself. Maybe if i had given away the burdens that have dragged me down to the depths like a lead weight, i would not be suffering so. Maybe i wouldn’t feel debilitated from the pain caused by my anxieties. Maybe I wouldn’t be sleeping my days away in attempt to self heal. But then again i guess i wouldn’t be sat here reflecting on the situation i find myself in and on the words that i offered.
The latter part of the verse offers immunity from demise for the godly…
Now i may not be ‘godly’, but i do consider myself a good person; A good human being with morals and principles, A good Samaritan to folk less fortunate than myself. I try to make a difference, even if only by offering a smile to a stranger or the estranged. I suppose traits relatable to those of a good christian. Traits that have been forged through life experience, my early methodist roots and invaluable lessons learnt from observing and working with people at their most vulnerable.
Now i have just began to attend church again after 20 years or so. By no means am i a pious woman, but i do believe in the kindness and love of mankind. I have found great comfort in revisiting my faith and felt humbled being amongst others who are searching for that higher power and those who have found salvation within it.
The first service I attended I felt the love emanate and the kindness that was extended blew me away and instantaneously I felt that I belonged – my faith in humanity was restored. The last service that I attended had a different feel from that of the previous, somehow it felt a lot more intense, even the hymns that were sang were ones that I did not recognise. At the front of the church there were people receiving prayer, the congregation were hugging and pacifying one another. My partner went to receive prayer from the pastor. I observed. The next moment he was on the floor surrounded by others praying over him. Naturally I made my way forward to be with him and I was met by the pastor; he anointed me with oil on my forehead, embraced me and then looked me in the eyes “You are a powerful woman of God; You don’t realise how powerful you are. Now go to him and keep praying”. Emotion was surging through my body and the tears began to flow, I knelt on the floor beside my partner holding his hand with the both of mine. The feeling of love radiated through me and I prayed. I silently spoke hoping ‘he’ was listening “I know i have turned my back on you, but please heal my love and help him find the peace he needs”.
On the drive home i felt strange. I thought about the words that the pastor had said to me and I couldn’t help but feel like a phoney. There had been people there that had devoted themselves to God. Who truly believed, giving their burdens to the lord.
At present i do not feel able to fully dedicate myself wholly, but i will at least maintain a friendship with God. Friendships are an ongoing journey that allow us learn about one another. Friendships grow. In my life i share my burdens with my friends and they help take care of me, and my true friends never permit me to slip and fall. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
So after the first failed attempt of intravenously administering the “cocktail” of class A drugs, I needed to re-evaluate the situation.
Everything that was needed for the operation was to hand. The paraphernalia and the access; in the form of a cannula that the foundation doctor had inserted in A&E. I had managed to wangle a lighter off another patient a few cubicles down. I was good to go.
There were a few conflicting factors id have to dodge; The scrupulous tap dancing male and his scruffy accomplice for one. The girlfriend had thrown a spanner in the works, secretly informing said nurse, that I was on the prowl for my next fix. He was on to me; A handful of security guards in a gabble, talking and moving their heads in suspicious and hushed tones, albeit seemed more intent on observing the passing females rather than scouting the department for any risks. Out of the group, there was only one who appeared to be on the ball. He’s the one i’ll be wary of.
I suddenly became aware that I needed a pan to cook in. In a true school boy error i’d thrown away the last into the clinical waste bin in the bathroom on the first attempt. That had been when the tap dancing nurse and the scruffy nurse had rudely interrupted the show!
So what was I going to do for a pan? My eyes like military grade radars scanned the room. Nothing. I needed to think creatively.
And there is was. I had an eureka moment! Like a magpie I had zoned in on something shiny. Sat on another patients table. Tin foil. Now left a small matter of obtaining my object of desire.
The tinfoil I need is on old Tommy’s table, across from my bed. Tommy is a grand chap and content with the deck he had been dealt in life. Frequently praising the nurses and expressing “Eyyyyy, I do feel grand!” In hope that someone will take pity on him and discharge him home. The cake in the tinfoil is burning a hole in my head! If only I felt as ‘grand’ as Tommy. I’ve begun to perspire profusely and the rattle has started to take a hold of me. My mind is telling to make me do immoral things “Take the cake!” reassuring me “Your need is greater!”. That’s the thing with the addicted mind, It makes us do things that would make ‘normal’ folk cringe and curl with shame. In my eyes there was no shame in what i was about to do. It wasn’t in greed. It was my need!
So the plan is in place. . .
I make my way over to Tommy’s table. Eyes left; The nurses are all chattering among themselves at the nurses station. The pharmacist has just left the bay. She is trying to sort out another patients Tramadol take home prescription. I chuckle to myself. It seems that I’m not the only addict here. Addiction does not discriminate. So whilst the nurses are talking and the pharmacist is sorting out ‘Tramadol man, I have to work fast. Approaching Tommy, I notice he is drifting in and out of sleep. I worked like a thief in the night. Casually walking over to Tommy, i prepare myself to ask “Is everything alright?” should he wake up. Tommy was asleep and ‘catching flies’. Eyes left; The pharmacist is now talking with the nursing staff “I suspect hes stockpiling Tramadol at home, I’m only prescribing him enough to tie him the weekend!” – There was no pulling the wool over her eyes.
Back to the plan . . .
Tommy is still asleep. The other poor sods seem to be at the end of their lives and are all unconscious. Nurses busy. With a quick slight of hand the cake is in my dressing gown pocket before you could say “pass me my syringe!”. I walk away feeling rather pleased with myself.
Cake in mouth and foil in hand I begin to cook up my medicine. The end of my suffering is nigh. I only just manage mind. After straightening the foil and dispersing the remnants of the cake in all its stickiness, the foil isn’t really up to much and is falling apart. Already I’m anticipating the warm wave of comfort and calmness i was about to experience.
I’m just shooting up and the bangs on the door are once again ruining everything! I miss the vein and expel the contents of the syringe all over my trousers. I’m in a nightmare! How could this be happening after my meticulous plan had been so successfully executed? I admit defeat. I open the bathroom door, hang my head and do the walk of shame past the disapproving looks of tap dancing nurse, back to my bed to face the inevitable pain that i am about to endure.
My Saviour takes the form of a kind natured filipino nurse who has taken over from tap dancing nurse. She takes pity on me. I like to think that she is able to see the pain and desperation in my eyes. It is more probable that she wants a shift free of failed adventures of an ‘IVDU’. We could all do without those kind of dramas right? So, 10mls of morphine later, and a good talking down off a bossy auxillary nurse from Bradford, I begin to feel like a human with rational thoughts once more.
I reflect on the events of the day. The good intentions were there. The plan may have been a failure…