Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BAGGAGE (02/08/18)
TITLE: Forest or Trees
By LINDA GERMAIN
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He didn’t talk much, except to holler for this or that.
“Hey, Tess,” he bellowed, “where’s the TV clicker?”
She padded into the room in her old slippers, disheveled and unkempt, and pointed.
“Look in your hand, Bubba. If it’d been a snake…”
Then, she wandered off again to whatever it was she did. He wasn’t sure, nor did he care. He wasn’t interested in where she slept or where she spent hours lumbering around their old house. It did seem like things had deteriorated while he had been in the hospital for so long.
He spent his days and nights living vicariously through the shows he watched. Once in a while, he would try to engage his wife of 40 years in a program.
“Come in here, Tessie Jean! You won’t believe this reality show about people who hoard stuff. It’s disgusting. Are they crazy or something?”
Once in a while, she would perch on an old hassock in the corner. First, she would remove the stacks of magazines and papers. Something about observing this weird compulsive disorder in strangers made her too anxious to stay.
During one particularly nasty episode of the show when family members almost came to blows over the incredible messes, Bubba turned to her out of a clear blue sky and said, “Do we ever hear from the kids?”
He had been home for months, and this was the first time he had asked.
“They came to the hospital lots of times,” she mumbled. “You know they got families of their own and are a good thirty miles away.”
Bubba stared at her, trying to comprehend, and said, “Uh huh…well,” and then turned to a game show.
She didn’t tell him how, Kandilee, their eldest daughter, had confronted her in a pretty blunt way.
“Mama, LISTEN TO ME,” she had yelled on the front lawn after Bubba Joe had been discharged from the rehabilitation place for a few weeks.
Her mother had blinked hard as if that would make her hear better. She seemed to shrink as she waited for the onslaught.
“None of us will be bringing your grandchildren over here. This place is nasty and dangerous. Y’all BOTH need some help!”
Tessie had smoothed back her own stringy hair and smiled as she spoke as sweetly as she knew how.
“Honey, I just haven’t had time to keep up. You know, most of the stuff here is his.”
At one point, Kandilee stomped back into the house and gave her dad the same speech. She wasn’t surprised at his response.
“Why darlin’, all this stuff is your mother’s. It’s like on that hoarding show where all them people just keep piling up trash until they can barely get around. I think she really needs help.”
Kandilee sputtered as her face turned red and outrage seeped out and exploded.
“When’s the last time you went anywhere but to the gross looking bathroom twenty feet away and back to this dirty chair? You even sleep here. Have you seen the kitchen lately? The garage?”
Bubba Joe didn’t have an answer.
Kandilee tried to pace, but there wasn’t room, so she sat on old pizza boxes which teetered on a broken chair, and sobbed.
Her clueless father just stared. He didn’t like any intrusion on his routine, but neither did he like to see his oldest so upset. Besides, why was it any of her business?
When she calmed down, she took his hand and tried to get through to him with her sensible and deep concern.
“Daddy, don’t you want to see the babies anymore? They’re growing so fast, and they ask about Grandpa and Grandma all the time.”
He looked perplexed as if none of that computed in his tired brain.
“Well then…just bring ‘em over.”
She cried even more now. Bubba couldn’t process the situation, so she left.
As she drove off, her cheerful sounding mama waved and shouted.
“Come back soon. We’d love to see all of you. God Bless!”
Kandilee was already too far away. She couldn’t hear.
Note: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) affects millions of people and impacts their daily activities in profound and dangerous ways. Anger doesn’t help. Loving, prayerful intervention would go a long way.
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