I suppose, now that Parrish has been out of jail for a week, that I must begin again chronicling his story. After a three month hiatus from writing down his story and how it affects me, there is again much to say.
The phone rang at about ten in the morning last Monday,
and it was P calling to say he is out of jail. I expected him to be released three days later, on Thursday, and was unprepared to deal with him. I had a been suffering severe back spasms for three days and was in terrible pain and having difficulty getting around.
He said he was at the bus station, so I told him to sit tight and give me time to collect myself before coming to get him. The phone went dead. I checked caller ID and realized that he was not calling from the bus station at all. He was calling from the jail. His first lie came only minutes after his release. I redialed in an effort to reach him again, but the woman who answered said he was already gone.
I tried to dissuade Marnie from going with me to deal with Parrish. She had been to Athens with Stanley all weekend and was tired and stressed. She insisted on going, saying she didn’t want me to go alone, given how bad I was feeling. So, an hour or so later, we got in the car and drove to Brunswick.
Parrish was outside the old Greyhound station on Gloucester Street. He seemed agitated and refused to make eye contact with either of us. He was chewing a massive wad of gum and the smell of cinnamon permeated the car. I immediately wondered if he had already been drinking, just hours out of jail.
I decided when he was arrested in September that, upon his release, P was not to come to my house for any reason. I was resolute in my decision and had made it clear to P while he was still in jail that coming to my house was not an option.
“Do you want something to eat, Parrish?”
“Yes. I haven’t had a decent meal in three months. Then can we go to your house so I can take a shower?”
“No, I will take you to a hotel until we can secure and apartment for you. You can clean up there.”
I drove to Waffle House, where we ate breakfast. Having taken the time before we left the house to research affordable hotels in Brunswick, I them drove to Microtel and checked P in for a week.
We went to Wal-Mart where, fueled by mania, he commandeered the shopping cart and began wheeling around frantically, dropping items into it and criss-crossing the store. He had found a tin of snuff in his bag while we were in the car and had some of it tucked inside his lip, so he found a cup to spit in and carried it around with him. Had he been drinking? It seemed so to me. Still in severe pain, I hobbled around after him, wanting only a warm heating pad and my bed.
We left the store with provisions and a phone for him, and from there we went to McGarvey’s Efficiencies for a rental application. Learning that he could not file the application without a photo ID, we took it with us, and I instructed P that he should fill it out the best he could and that we would get his ID from the Department of Drivers Services later in the week.
A couple of months ago, I bought a book called Buddhist Boot Camp. It’s a daily reader of short pieces, teachings of The Buddha, and I have been working to assimilate these lessons of inner peace and acceptance and tolerance and empathy into my life. On that day, remembering to breathe and center myself in my own peace, I was able to make the situation tolerable for myself. I was unswayed by Parrish’s reaction to my resolve. He was unbelieving that he could not play on my sympathies and manipulate my actions as he has in the past. I had three months to do the work I needed to do to prepare for that day, and though I was sharp with him on a couple of occasions, I didn’t lose my temper. I didn't know until then just how willing I am to protect myself from the stresses foisted upon me by others, even my son. In the middle of the chaos that is Parrish, I held fast to my decision to care for myself first.
On the way back to the hotel, I told him to make a list of the things he needed to do. I asked him to call his psychiatrist and make an appointment, to call Social Security and make an appointment to go in and apply for a new card and check on eligibility for Medicare.
“I need to call and get a new debit card for my SSI.”
“Yes, you should do that today as well, but your first concern is to get in to see your doctor.”
“Okay, I will.”
“And you need to call AA, find a meeting and ask that someone pick you up and take you to it. It’s the quickest way you can start to help yourself.”
“I don’t really feel like going to a meeting.”
“It’s your life. Work on it or don’t. Your happiness depends on you taking care of yourself, and if you don’t, you will be back in jail before you can turn around.”
By the time we returned to Microtel, Parrish was in full blown mania, rushing around in a confused state, declaring that he didn’t have the phone I purchased for him. I sat quietly in the car while he located it. Marnie helped him get his things inside while waited, wondering whether he would be able to handle life without me running interference for him and repeating to myself that he would have to.
Later in the day, he phoned my house no less than six or seven times. With him there is always a situation, some sort of crisis or decision to be made. Each time he called, I asked if he had made the calls necessary to get himself launched into his new life. The only thing he had done was call to get a new debit card. Money is what matters to him at a time when he is at a critical crossroads in his life. I cannot change that.
I finally stopped answering the phone.
© 2103 cj Schlottman