Mary Cartledgehayes posted a blog about Conversations with the Disabled Guy and demanded all her readers head over here and read about us. I didn't know about it till she posted a comment on yesterday's blog. That was quite awesome of her and I appreciate it greatly. Because of her and her comment, it inspired today's post.
She's a real writer- insomuch as she's published. Technically, I'm a "real" writer because I used to write a weekly column for a long-gone website called "The Awesome Report". I put quotes around my "real" because aside from a few letters in magazines, my own blogs (you know, I used to say I hated blogs and what I did wasn't blogging, but here we are, with three of them) and the Awesome Report, I'm not really published.
Now, as I said, she inspired today's blog. How? Well, I read all the comments people post (and I get some via email as well) to the Disabled Guy. And, I refer to Mary as "that real writer lady" because that's how DG knows her. Her real name is MARY... not exactly the most difficult name to remember. But that's how DG's brain works. He has trouble retaining new information unless it is repeated countless times. And sometimes, during those repetitions, I have to add a descriptor so he can remember why I'm even talking about a person, place or thing. For almost a year following his stroke, he called me "Mom" because that's what the kids called me. Our parents were all referred to as "Gramma" and "Grampa"- again, because of the kids. His mother was upset by that at first, thinking he thought SHE was his grandmother. But, that's how he associated us. He knew who we were, but didn't know what to call us at the time.
The first few years after DG's stroke, we quite literally, had no friends. The few people we knew when he was in the Army stopped calling and who could blame them, really? Then we moved to Wisconsin from Georgia because we came to where the help was (my parents). I went to work as a night-shift security guard and when you work nights, sleep for four hours a day because of three kids, deal with the bureaucracy that is the Veteran's Administration/doctor appointments, you simply don't have time to make friends. But, after a while, things settled down and the VA came through for us and I could quit my job (in retrospect, I wish I hadn't, but hey, hindsight and all that). I started to meet a few parents from my kids' schools. It didn't really start till Kat (our oldest, now 20) was in middle school (here that's 6th through 8th grade). I did meet a few parents at our son's martial arts academy (not too much before Kat entered the 6th grade), so DG was hearing about different people from different places.
Here are a few names- Bill, Ron, Kay, Joe (though we called him by Mister- and his last name)... so these are not difficult names. But, DG would not or could not remember them. Conversations about these people would start with: "You know Ron..." met with a blank stare followed by me giving the descriptor that ended up becoming the nickname for Ron.
Bill- he became a close friend of ours. We did things as a group- family trips to museums and canoe trips, campfires at his house and my parents' house. He helped me do a couple things around the house that DG couldn't at the time (installed a new storm door, for one and climbed on our roof for another). DG knew Bill. But... for four or five years, Bill was "The Red Dodge Dad" because he drove a big extended cab Dodge pick-up truck (yup, you guessed it- red).
Kay- we knew her when Kat was still in elementary school. But, she worked at a local car dealership called Bud Weiser Motors. She became "Bud Weiser Mom."
Ron- he was "The GM Dad" because he worked at the General Motors plant in Janesville.
Joe- who we called by Mr. Lastname was Jase's martial arts instructor. (this is seriously the only time I ever referred to him as Joe. He hasn't been Jase's instructor for at least five years and I still call him Mr. Lastname). But, to DG, he was "Tae Kwon Do guy." Yeah, that was a stretch!
Pete was a dad at the academy who we referred to as Dale Earnhardt because- you guessed it- he looked like Dale Earnhardt. I didn't think so, but DG sure did.
We haven't seen nor spoken to those people in quite a few years- yet DG still remembers who they are because of their nicknames. We just lost touch after our kids grew older and we stopped seeing each other at the schools.
I've got some relatives that DG cannot remember the names of either. Most of my family is from around here but we rarely see them, mostly at semi-annual family gatherings. The few he has trouble remembering are mostly cousins, mostly our age. Cousin Helper- that was my cousin Karen. She passed away suddenly last year and sadly, because of that, DG knows her name now. Before, I'd say: "You know my cousin Karen?" after a pause, I'd say, "Cousin Helper?" and he'd know who she was. She was stuck with that name because every time we were at a family gathering- 95% of the time at my own parents' house (they have the biggest yard and an outdoor firepit), Karen would leap to her feet and say loudly, "JERRY! Do you want more [whatever food/drink he had]? LET ME HELP YOU!" She was very animated and spoke very loud- as if to a very young child. Over the years, we never knew why she did this- I was always there, so were our three kids and both my parents. It wasn't that he even needed help. I'd like to think Karen was trying to help merely because she thought I needed a break.
In December 2003, we got the Internet. Cue a whole slew of new people for him to keep track of. Not that he really ever goes online (he plays games on a website called "Miniclip", but otherwise, not hardly at all). These three people are some of the first I met and still good friends of mine.
Chez- we met on a message board for paranormal phenomenon. She became known as: "My English friend with the boobs"... well, she's from England and she's got a great rack. We used to watch web cams, looking for ghost sightings, which is how DG came to know what she looks like (and DG likes the boobs- any boobs, he just likes 'em).
Duck- met on the same board as Chez and I did. Duck is her real life nickname and DG knows her by that and by a shortened version of her screen name: Spec. Her real name is Michelle. Her nickname was: "My lesbian friend in Boston". Well, she no longer lives in Boston, she's still a lesbian (as far as I know) and she's more than a friend- she's the sister I never had.
Shawn- we met on a different message board and just hit it off. DG knows his name and we don't need a descriptor to go with him. But, for almost a year, Shawn was: "My Australian friend" which morphed into "my Australian boyfriend". By the way, Shawn is coming to visit us again in a couple weeks- the whole month of March. (he's visited twice before).
A few other people I know online are nicknamed by their message board association. A lot of people are simply "Screen name from snopes" and I'm sure DG just lumps them all together. There are a few who stand out that he remembers, usually because they're entertaining to him (I read posts over on the snopes message board out loud when I think they're funny or if they're really intelligent- which happens often over there). For those who don't know, "snopes" is the website you should all go to before you forward that email. And the husband and wife who run the site? Well, they're Mister and Mrs. Snopes, of course. I've also got "Braidy, the hot chick from the tattoo board" (because DG thinks she's hot) and her husband: "Bone, Braidy's husband" (because DG knows he's married to Braidy). "Ryan, the Stormtrooper from the tattoo board" (his avatar is that of a Stormtrooper). Wayne Simmons- my new favorite writer- is "the zombie guy" because he wrote an awesome zombie-genre novel (he's also from that tattoo board). Seriously, awesome book, go read it- Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons. There are others, but I have to clump them together associated by the boards.
Now, all these friends that I know online- it makes sense to give them an association he can remember them by because he's never met them and that's how he knows them. But there are a few he should have no trouble remembering. Like Shawn and Duck and Chez, I like to think I've become real friends with them- even if I haven't met them in person. Chris- who is referred to as "My English guy-friend who isn't Chez" (now he's just "my English guy-friend"). Why should Chris be so easy to remember? Well, he's wicked funny for one (he never fails to make us both laugh), but also because his name is the masculine version of our youngest child- Christine.
Angus- his board is called "Angus Macinnes". So I have to say, "You know Angus- the guy I met at ren faire last August" even though there are two photos of Angus in this very room. One is of Angus and me and the other is of Angus, me, Colleen and Shanna (Colleen's daughter). Yet, having known them for at least five years, I only just met them last August when Angus came up from Texas to visit Colleen and her family and they all came to Kenosha, where we met up at the Bristol Ren Faire. The fact that we're all in renaissance garb should be a big reminder of who Angus, Shanna, and Colleen are- but hey, we don't live inside that brain of DG's.
Now, most of these people have known their nickname at one point or another. Some we didn't tell (aside from Karen, I have a few relatives that are known by sarcastic versions of inside family jokes that are not appropriate to share). And some are just simple- such as the screen name and board association. But the dance that we do so DG knows who we're talking about can bet tedious. He still doesn't remember our daughters' boyfriends' names or our son's girlfriend's name. "Jase's girlfriend"... "Christine's boyfriend"... "Kathy's boyfriend"...
Thanks for reading this far- this went on much longer than I thought and some of it was rambly because I'm two hours into my Vicodin buzz for the night. Here's something for you to get a laugh at...
Apparently, on Facebook this time around, the theme is "post a photo of you and your SO" (that's significant other, for those who don't know). I don't have many pictures of DG and I together that aren't 20 years old. So, I tried to get a few. I ended up taking and deleting about a dozen photos with my mobile phone. We were laughing so hard from them that I actually had tears in my eyes. Even the dogs got into it, barking at us and when it was all done, Gypsy (the German Shepherd) had brought toys into the kitchen (where we were- the best light is in there). Out of the dozen photos, I kept two. One serious, one not.
This is the one DG liked-
I said, "Look scared!" and this one was the result. This is the one that made DG laugh so hard that he "ooh'd".
Oh, and because I mentioned them and how we were all wearing garb, here's the photo of (left to right) me, Angus, Colleen, and Shanna.