It's been on my mind a good bit today that I'm on the other side of the end of Jr's line. All the time with him I refused to anticipate when he might go out, or even think about what comes next. I felt like my role was to keep him comfortable in the present. He faded out and came back so many times, I could never assume that a downturn would not turn back up. I could never anticipate anything. When Jr's mind was gone, I wondered how much more he has to take. But I wouldn't indulge in thoughts of after. Everything has so many ways of changing, all at the same time, ongoing, I can't anticipate anything to do with the future, even by tracing patterns of repetition in the past. Not even that is a certainty.
It's a month past the dreaded day, and everything is different. Gradually, I'm setting myself in motion, getting projects going. When I came home I found the house was static, desperately needed help. It felt inside about like Jr's house must feel right now. The occupant gone. Nothing is going on. It's like the spirit in the house was asleep, or that's what I called it. It seemed to define the feeling best. I believe I can say with fair certainty that Jr never imagined a world without him. He never looked to what's next either. He wasn't in a hurry to find out. He was actually a bit resistant to finding out, because he liked it here. He had his troubles and sorrows, but that's not all there is. He also had some really good times and loved to work, worked into his late 70s, until he was unable to leave the house.
It wasn't denial on his part or mine. For Jr it was apprehension, I suspect, that God might turn out to be a hard-shell preacher and tell him, sorry, you drank too much, you've outrun the law, you've given in to temptation repeatedly, you've got a little too independent an air about you, and worst of all, you don't go to church. Bad Jr. Get onboard that long black train. It's a one-way trip to hell. But the God Jr really knows and the God I know is all about love. It's like I told him when he told me he wasn't sure which way he was going, Hell wouldn't have you. In my way of seeing, that's a certainty. Hell doesn't want somebody who tends to help others. Hell wants somebody who robs his mother's money she put by for her old age.
I never talked with Jr about heaven or hell, whether or not, any of that. In his way of thinking, as in mine, they don't matter now. What matters now is participating in the flow of life on earth. Jr never objected to living on this earth, like I often do. He thinks it's as good as it gets being a human on earth, a man with a complex life, a mind that keeps itself busy figuring things out. He learned by doing. He loved making music, the world of musicians, getting a good rhythm going and riding it picking the fire out of the banjo. Even in the last weeks when he was frailty itself, I knew the Jr within and he was still functioning. That was the Jr I talked to and listened to. When his mind dried up, the Jr I knew was still there, just locked in a cell without a mind.
I had never wanted to control him in any way, and don't believe I ever did. A few years ago I told him, "The only thing I want for you is what you want for yourself." He looked at me stunned-like, and said, Really? I don't think he'd ever heard of that. He had so many people around him controlling and manipulating him, and him knowing it, that somebody not looking to control him came as a surprise out of the blue. I always let him call his own shots. I never anticipated how he might answer any given question, or how he might respond to one thing or another. I couldn't. I knew that. When people would ask me something they wanted to ask him, but he was asleep or generally unable to respond, I had to make it clear I really do not know what his answer would be. I might think I have a pretty good idea what it would be, but I wouldn't count on it. I wanted him to have his own personal autonomy to the last breath.
I remember the time the niece below the mountain said she commends me, she knows how contrary he was. I said, He wasn't contrary at all. She was always and continually set on forcing him to do things he's not going to do. Like she thinks he should eat, though he says his stomach hurts and he can't eat, she fixes a big meal, puts it down before him and heckles him to eat. Finished, he'd get up, go to the bathroom, throw up and be in agony the rest of the day. I never put anything on him to do that he didn't want to do. I explained to him what his pills were for, individually, when he took them, never just saying do this, do that. I gave him a choice about everything. I wanted him to be able at least to make decisions in his own power, even though he didn't have the energy to stand up. Decisions got down to would you like a sip of water? But it was his decision, which I believed was at least as important as the water.
Looking back to the time of first suspicioning I was sent to Jr, then to get to know him better first, learn his language, you might say, preparing for the time I could help him retain his personal autonomy as long as he retains consciousness. It was his consciousness that was important to me. His consciousness is where Jr Maxwell really was, not in that banged up and broken old skeleton. I'll even go so far as to venture it was God's love for Jr that set up circumstances to call upon a devotee who appreciates people of the old ways, who was already disposed to like Jr, who could learn from Jr, because Jr was a learned man, not by books but by awareness, first hand experience. It tells me God trusted me with his dear one, and I'm as grateful for that as for anything else.