Lately, I am aware of voices in my head, saying call so and so, or have such and such for lunch while I am reading a book I want to be reading. It surprises me the contents of these reminders as I am enjoying the book. Like, you need to call your daughter about her fear to see her sister naked. She is having anxiety attacks recently, and I sense her need to be freer of her childhood fears. Another voice whispers, “Be careful, Be patient.”
Reading Gail Hornstein’s book, Agnes Jacket, and her interview in the July 2011 SUN magazine, encourages a long-standing whisper that schizophrenics can be helped with psychotherapy, unlike most of present American psychiatry believes. As a child, I rode to the Binghamton State Hospital one hour away, every month, with my mother at the wheel, my grandmother beside her. My mother’s brother Victor has been ‘living’ there since age 19, having been paranoid that his family was poisoning him. During our lunches together, between his mutterings about something we did not understand, there were some conversations that totally made sense, like a leaf changing color in fall. Like my mother, I became a nurse, and continued to visit my institutionalized uncle, sometimes inviting him to my married home for lunch.
After becoming a psychotherapist, I visited him a few times at a group home for the mentally disabled, after the institutions freed their long term chronic patients, ‘well’ medicated. One time, I questioned him (just now I searched through MY old notebooks of family history…searching for my visit to Uncle Victor, living at Oakland Manor, Weedsport, NY. After looking through several notebooks, a whisper advised me to look into my father’s file.) I remembered I had written notes on a yellow legal pad, my ‘interview’ with Uncle Victor, out of curiosity. Now I’m reading that it was April 21, 1991 when he was 75. WOW! I whispered loudly, having found what I was looking for immediately after the faint reminder-whisper in my mind.
My notes say that I asked him, “What do you remember about your childhood?” “Very fussy parents,” is his first response. Adding, “They want us to be as old as they are.” Victor graduated at age 15 from high school, smart; now he recollected family events accurately that I had heard from my mother and grandmother, in between other whispers that made no sense to me. At this moment, I am amazed as I read his awarenesses, “I was afraid to bother father,” and “people were less verbal years ago.” I am saddened then and more so now that I was not able to say ‘I love you’ to him, tears now ringing those words as true.
So unlike, the cell phone call I answered last week, “I am in the library, I have to whisper.” My ‘son’ replies, “I love you, call me when you can talk.”
Synchronously, a month ago, I engaged a monument company to design a grave marker for my Uncle Victor and Uncle Ralph; both died within the same week of October 1996, alone, my mother being their only loving caregiver. She was unable to create headstones before her death, so now I am saying I love them the only way I can.
“A whisper can be a shot of memory…EVOLving.”…dianea kohl