Don’t ask why I live with an elderly man who is very sweet but very different. Don’t ask why he leaves things on the counter open all the time. Don’t ask why the coffee sits made for four days as warms up a little at a time. Don’t ask why he refrigerates everything. Don’t ask why he doesn’t seem to be able to throw anything away much to my chagrin. Don’t ask why he always says life is wonderful.
At least I try not to ask. We are such different people. I am a chaplain whose task in life since birth was to lament and bowl. He is blind, 85 years old and looks at everything very simplistically. I love technology…and he is a little distant from it. I hear well, and perhaps a little too well. He,is well, hearing impaired. He loves to thank God, and I love to lament God. He loves to talk and debrief and share the little things of the day, and I am a silent type who keeps his cards close. But we manage I think.
But in some ways I wonder about how I communicate. I think I am so concerned about letting him in on everything I do. I afraid of being parented again. I fear that I will lose some of my own control- or maybe my independence. I know that often I am uncomfortable because I am not sure I trust him with that information. You see, I share myself when people seem not only genuinely concerned but also listen and hear my joys and struggles and concerns. With this man, his genuine interest comes across as nosiness sometimes. I don’t want him asking how my date went. I don’t want to answer about how my day went and all the deaths or jarring visits I had.
What I think this means is not that I want to hide my entire life from him, but that I don’t want to feel like he needs to know everything- that he is clingy. I don’t like feeling like someone is clinging and I usually try to avoid being that to others. I actually want to interact more but need to find a way to not be a leper who excises himself from others (specifically this man) and instead interacts with more honesty as I would to my others friends. Genuine honesty…letting him know what is too far…letting him know boundaries. Because perhaps the blind man who sees my presence as companionship isn’t too far off. Perhaps I can let his presence be a companionship too. If I can allow myself to trust that I will be honest later on. And that may help both of us too. A blind man and a leper. Hmmm…