Naked lady on top of big rig

naked lady on big rig1

Courtesy of chron.com

We went to our lawyer downtown to change our wills on Monday. The lawyer’s assistant asked us if we had heard about the naked lady dancing on top of a big rig on the 290 highway. We burst out laughing and said, “What next?” Houston’s freeways are notorious for odd things happening. Accidents happen every day, not always fatal, and weird things fall off trucks all the time. I don’t know how many times I have had to veer to avoid a sofa or a ladder. As Texans we are also kinda nosy and rubber necking at accidents sites is a real problem. You will be in a one hour delay with nose to tail traffic and then you discover that the accident was on the OTHER SIDE OF THE FREEWAY! It is a very hard-working city with tired, underpaid, under-qualified drivers from all over the world. When I greet tourists, I ask them if they have ever driven in Mexico City or Egypt – just to forewarn them.

As I started to think about this naked lady incident, I thought she must have just flipped. Briefly, she had been involved in a pile-up then took off all her clothes and clambered on top of the big rig that had been involved in the accident. She danced and twerked according to reports and this a link to a thoughtfully written article by our local paper The Houston Chronicle Naked Lady story

After my last post, it made me so sad that yet again this whole debacle was caused by a psychiatric problem and thank goodness the first responders were empathic to her issue. Can you imagine if she had thrown herself off the truck or ran into 5 lanes of traffic? Life is so frenetic here that she may not have realized that her mental health was breaking – who knows but at least she is in a hospital now. On a funnier note – can you imagine what the truck driver was thinking as a naked lady clambered on top of his rig?

I mentioned to our lawyer that I had a bad car accident a few years back when I was rear-ended by a truck carrying a heavy load. She asked why I didn’t approach her and now I wish I had. As someone with a mental illness, I was entirely traumatized by the incident, the ambulance, the predatory surgeon, the endless bills and bureaucracy. I did approach one reputable lawyer who was very keen to take on my case, particularly because both my physical health (spine) and mental health were impacted. Finally, I realized that I would only recover mentally if I moved on and settled for a paltry sum that didn’t even cover medical costs. I also didn’t want to ruin the life of the contractor who accidentally ran into me.

I have had more accidents since – it is such a common occurrence here. Often I wonder why there aren’t more fatal accidents? On one occasion a Latin American man stopped to give me his card as a witness and I now will always do that if it is safe for me to stop. Pay it forward.

Community Mental Health

risperidone prescription
My previous field of work was community mental health care and when we were downtown I spotted this prescription sticker stuck onto a bench in the park near the ‘before I die’ chalkboard. I instantly recognized the drug which is an anti-psychotic medication commonly used to treat illnesses like schizophrenia. When I was working it was a new wonder drug and very expensive. I expect it is generic now but still a useful medication.

Then I noticed the David’s surname which was Spanish and that the prescription was printed in Spanish. Mental illness affects people irrespective of income, ethnicity and circumstances but I suspect from his mother’s address they were first or second generation immigrants on a low wage. The script was issued from a hospital near the downtown area so it suggested that perhaps they could only afford to go to ER or it was an emergency situation.

David is not even 20 and my experience tells me that it is more likely the onset of schizophrenia rather than bipolar. It commonly presents in young men between the ages of 17 and 25. It can be sooner or later and slightly different for women. So why did he put the sticker on the bench? In retrospect I should have ripped it off because all his personal details were on it and made him a potential victim.

Was it a cry for help or a passive aggressive statement? More importantly, did he take the drugs? I wondered if his mother was sobbing, wondering what happened to her beautiful son and what to do next. The homeless people in Houston are often mentally ill and many self medicate with alcohol and drugs. I get angry and frustrated that there is so little community mental health care for parents or their adult children. When I volunteered at a local psychiatric hospital I was shocked by how many patients were brought in by policemen, sometimes at gunpoint. There has to be a middle ground.

Osyth commented in my last post that she was touched by the comment, ‘be happy’ (on the before I die chalkboard). Maybe David wrote that, in the hope that his illness would stabilize and he would be happy. I hope that he was still able to stay in his family home and not have to sleep in the parks, no matter how pretty they are.
art sculpture

A compliment

kerry mundo

I have been unwell for the last few days and so tired that you could see my drooping eyelid from an old scar. Then Teddy gave me a backhanded compliment today. His stats on Flickr had been down but his photograph of me was popular at least. Was that a compliment?

Anyway this is a photo of me on our wonderful trip to Baha in December and two photographic groups asked Teddy if they could include my photo. I immediately checked that they weren’t ageing swingers (there have been some weird stalkers of me on his site) but one in particular touched my heart.

The site is called Beautiful faces of women, men and children

For most of my life I have felt unattractive, most of it is part of my mental illness but some of it real, and today this made me smile. The other site was mundo global de photografies

A Pastor who walks in the footsteps of Christ

Bob, Andy Nessie

Teddy with his late mum and dad

I wanted to tell you about my mother in law’s funeral service and give thanks to the wonderful Pastor. In the UK we call them Reverend or Minister but Pastor feels more familiar here in Texas. When my father-in-law died almost four years ago, a new Minister, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, was just being appointed to their church. Both my mother and father in law were faithful members of their church which was built in a new town, East Kilbride, which was developed in the late 1940s. As a result, a retired Minister who knew my father in law personally performed the service.

Later, I reached out to Lindsey, who is a lovely young woman, when we had a previous crisis with Mum to ask if she could visit and pray with her. We couldn’t get flights immediately and it is a two day journey back to Scotland. At that time Nessie, my mother in law, performed her Lazarus trick and completely recovered from the virus. Lindsey continued to visit regularly and would send emails with current photographs that she had taken. She sang familiar hymns to her and prayed with her. This was an immense comfort to both Teddy and I even though we are not religious. We knew that Nessie was and so it would be a comfort.

On January 2nd we got a call from mum’s care home to say that she was suddenly deteriorating and it seemed like end-stage symptoms. She was very comfortable on end of life medications. Despite all our knowledge and 18 years with Alzheimer’s disease, you are always shocked. It was two hours before we were due to have a little drinks party with friends at our house. We looked at each other and decided not to cancel the party; why not celebrate her very long life? As it is a two day journey to Scotland from Texas so we decided to wait a couple of days to see how things progressed. The staff said she was staying stable and then we got the call in the middle of the night (we are 6 hours behind Scotland) to say she had died peacefully in her sleep on the 4 January 2016. The staff had gone into her room to wake her up and she had passed onto the hereafter.

As soon as we heard that she was failing, I emailed Lindsey to ask if she could visit. She went after Sunday services on the 3rd January and blessed her. When she emailed me in return I knew that this was the end. It’s a small town and Lindsey worked with us and the funeral director to create the perfect service. I was astonished at how appropriate and well thought out the service and hymns were. We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to have a relationship with a Minister that truly did minister her flock with love and compassion. Thank you, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, of The United Reform Church. This is their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/righeadurc

I know, I know – the irony of my previous post Facebook is the work of the devil! Clearly I was wrong and there are angels at work, too. I would also like to thank John Donnelly of Heritage Funeral Services http://www.heritagefuneralservices.co.uk/ (Thank the Good Lord they don’t have a Facebook page…) and all their wonderful staff. We arrived about a week after mum had died and had asked for a closed casket. Then I wanted to see her – I could see that this was unexpected for the staff but they went out of their way to accommodate me. They did whatever they do and she looked like a beautiful ageing fairy. At the last moment Teddy decided to view her too and was glad that we could see that her spirit was gone and all that was left was an exquisite death mask. Just before we left, they asked us if we would like music at the crematorium and Teddy said that she wasn’t really into music. I looked at him in astonishment and said, “She loved the Sound of Music”. As we entered the crematorium ‘Edelweiss’ was playing and as we left, ‘Climb Every Mountain’. During Lindsey’s shorter service there we sang ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ – a perfect hymn.

This is a link to the beautiful service sheet and hymns Click here to see the service Please look at it, especially if you have a relative with Alzheimer’s because you might love the appropriateness of it. May she rest in peace.

Teddy and his mum

Drew and mumframe

This is a fun photograph of my husband and his mother on a glacier in Austria in the late 1960s. Doesn’t she look like the coolest chick with that Caucasian ‘fro? Her hair was naturally curly. She died peacefully in her sleep on Monday 4th January after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Nessie spent the last four years of her life in a wonderfully caring home in Scotland and thrived under their care. I still can’t believe that she lived so long – she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at least 15 years before her death at the age of 87.

This week has passed in a blur, writing a business plan for my husband on Monday, then onto all the funeral preparations. The mortuaries are full of bodies at this time in Scotland. Somehow the cold and viruses just takes out the weak. The funeral is planned for Wednesday 13th January when we have a brief break in the weather. It will be near freezing but dry – so important if you are travelling in Scotland (or to Scotland).

Curiously, the funeral will take place on the same day that my mother died 14 years ago. They were good friends in life so perhaps they will be again in death. I asked my husband if I could speak at her church service and he thought that was a good idea as he would be too upset. I first met her when I was 21 years old and she accepted me immediately. It is now over 34 years later, I am still married to her only child and I cared for her relentlessly. She had good instinct.

I will probably not blog again for a couple of weeks but who knows? The journey across the pond is tiring and we have much to do in a short time. We traveled regularly to the UK to see my husband’s parents but now we are unlikely to do so for some years. Our visit will be a gentle goodbye to both a lovely mother and a beautiful country.

My Charismatic Father

My father as a beautiful boy

My father on the right as a beautiful boy

As I have been browsing other bloggers posts, I have noticed some lovely memorials to fathers who have passed on. It struck me that although my Dad died in 1990, I have no similar memories. He disappeared from my life when I was about 2 years old and, to all intents and purposes, abandoned us in Glasgow at my Grandmother’s home. Not only that, he ‘borrowed’ money from my mum’s family, never to be repaid.

My mum was a very complicated person with a mental illness and alcohol problem. When I was younger she invariably tried to boost the image of my Dad – told me how handsome, talented, clever and creative he was. I was aware that the rest of her family did not share that opinion. Then, one wonderful day, a giant package arrived from the States. Usually the parcels at Christmas were from my two single maternal aunts and one relative of my father. This one was from my father and it was full of a strange mixture of toys including a pink Cadillac, a fire engine and a large baby doll. I was so excited to receive something from this elusive father. I wasn’t quite old enough to figure out why my mum was conflicted about the parcel – we never did receive any alimony.

As the years passed, a clearer picture of my father emerged. He was a deeply flawed but utterly charismatic man who may well have had mental health issues – certainly he was an alcoholic. In one awful drunken revelation, my mum wailed at me that my Dad had wanted her to get an illegal abortion in 1959. I can still remember how devastating that was to me – not only was I an unwanted burden to my mother but my father probably only married my mother because of my existence. To make things worse I also knew that my father’s cousin, my aunt Jackie, wanted to adopt me because of the circumstances of my birth. How I longed that she had.

Time moved on, I had inherited not just a damaged psyche but a genetic mental illness. I married very young and when I was around 30 found out that we could not have children. That must have triggered something in my head and I asked my mum if she would be upset if I tried to trace my Dad but she was surprisingly keen. Long story short, I found him and he was happy to have reconnected. In essence, I had never met him and was struck by how sexy and alluring his voice was. It resonated beautifully.

There is no happy ending. Eventually, I couldn’t stand to even speak to him after many drunken calls in the middle of the night. He died in desperately sad circumstances, alone, and I am just sad that I don’t have a wonderful Dad to pay tribute to. The one person, who knew him intimately and did not dislike him, told me that I inherited his charisma. I have been told that I have a sexy and alluring voice, too.

I have written some more about him in my Kindle Book –
Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan

PS. After I wrote this I looked at my avatar and my Dad as a child and realized our faces are identical.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Eiffel Tower

I am so sad that terrorists have struck again in Paris, Beirut and probably all over Syria and Iraq. There was a glimmer of hope that the Peshmerga had taken back Sinjar or what remains of it and then horror erupted again. RIP for all the innocent victims in this era of terror.

Bambi

white tailed deer
I had a very sad day. My husband had an appointment at our local hospital which is within our forest. We went in separate cars and as I left, I noticed that a young deer had been hit by a car and was lying in the median, kicking in obvious distress. As soon as I was able, I turned around and went back to where it was. It had stopped kicking but was still alive. I held it’s soft, warm little body and tried to assess if it was injured or dying. I flagged down some vehicles and a heavily tattooed man drew up and also a business woman. I explained what had happened and asked either of them if they had a gun. The man said that he didn’t have one with him but the woman did. She looked horrified at the idea of killing Bambi but I just wanted to put it out of its misery. Another car stopped and said they would call the police. In the meantime, I continued to stroke the poor little creature until I finally felt the life go out of its body. I said, “I think it has died, I can’t feel a heartbeat”. I moved the body gently to see if there was any response and noticed that its eyes had gone glassy. The tattooed man gently helped me take it over to the verge. In retrospect, we are probably not allowed to discharge a weapon in the city but at least the fawn was comforted into the after life. It made me realize how different life is in the the countryside from the city. A farmer would have known exactly what to do.

Help!

2mums and dad 001 I love this photograph of my mum (blonde), mum in law and dad in law. They are on a vacation to Spain that my parents in law kindly paid for. My husband and I are both only children, so almost always had celebrated Christmas with all three parents. One particular holiday, we were staying in one of the guest bedrooms of my mother’s house. Her house adjoined another terraced house and our bedroom had paper thin walls to the bedroom next door. My mum lived in a nice public housing estate which was full of working class people. The next door neighbor was an older lady, now widowed, who lived there with two sisters – the oldest was single and the other was a widow. They had been neighbors for more than 20 years and both were respectfully quiet – except on this occasion…

It was around midnight on Christmas Eve and we were being disturbed by strange noises in the bedroom next door. It sounded like furniture being moved around which was odd at that time of night. Then we heard a little voice shouting, “Help” out of the neighbor’s window. It was a quiet street and one of the neighbors across the street came out in her dressing gown and curlers, shouting “Who’s that shouting help?” She was a rather loud lady who sounded like a female Billy Connolly. By this time half of the street was out in their nightclothes trying to figure out what was wrong. Despite my mum’s own mental health issues, she was the voice of reason in the street and many people confided their problems in her.

No-one in the house next door had come out to explain what the problem was so my mum knocked at the front door and said, “Its Kathleen, let me help.” They very tentatively opened the door and were clearly mortified at being the center of attention. In those days Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, much like mental illness, was something you didn’t talk about. The oldest single sister had one or the other, had been deteriorating for months while the family tried to keep her illness secret. On this occasion she was delusional, thinking it was World War II and had barricaded the bedroom with the furniture to protect her against Nazi soldiers.

It took half the night for my mum to help the situation while the poor deluded sister was still shouting, “Help!” out of the window. None of us got much sleep that Christmas night. My husband and I were very young, still in our twenties, and didn’t realize how difficult the situation was. Life turned around to teach us a sharp lesson as my lovely mother-in-law who was glowing in the photograph above was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 15 years ago. She was advantaged by new medical treatments, brain scans and therapy but it is still so hard to cope with. Now, she is the only parent we have still living and resides in a special care facility. People sometimes make very thoughtless comments such as, “I would never put my parent in a home” but how could you manage without specialist staff, hoists and all the other equipment they have? I couldn’t even change her diaper because of back problems.

We try to visit her every quarter, one or other of us, but she no longer remembers me which makes me sad. Everything about the situation makes my husband sad as he only sees glimmers of her former personality. I used to volunteer at a Dementia Ward in a hospital in Scotland and I know that we are very fortunate that she is calm, happy and easy for the staff to deal with. It is lovely to see them hug or kiss her with her smiling in response as she no longer has language. Despite all of this, we still laugh when we think of the very loud neighbor lady with the Billy Connolly voice – her heart was in the right place.