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March 26, 2012: Katie Long, Continued

Last night, as I was writing up the previous dispatch, there was a part of me that knew that I was playing it safe. I simply wrote about the subject in the photo, and provided a brief bit of information about my relationship to her. This was the most ethical thing to do, given that the Longs and the Schmidtkunz’s are close friends. I had no intention of betraying family confidences. At the same time, I didn’t want to dig deeper. I was tired, and therefore did not want to begin untangling a large ball of yarn.



I hoped that by this morning that I’d be onto a differing train of thought, but this was not to be. I’ve since been thinking about what unsaid, which means that I have to say a bit more.

Yesterday and today’s photos – there are many, many stories here, and all center around all our relationships to one another. For example, Katie will be moved on April 1 from where she’s now living to the Anchorage Pioneer’s Home. This was Bill’s (Katie’s husband) decision. Charlene (Katie’s daughter) wasn’t consulted about this beforehand.

Bill and Charlene have both (presumably) been acting in Katie’s best interest. These two amazingly strong-willed individuals both love Katie; however, they’ve been butting heads. It isn’t my place to pass judgment on either’s decisions, nor to write at length about this. But isn’t this what writer’s do? Problem is, nothing is objective.

That’s them. And then there’s me. Yesterday afternoon, I of course began making associations to my own family. Watching Charlene, I thought of my sister Eleanor, who for years has been my mother’s care giver. This isn’t a job I could do. I often wish that I could, but I lack that certain essential something that one needs in order to be able to do this.

However, Eleanor’s actions have made me more empathetic to my mother’s life, and more cognizant of the fact that Mom did a good job in raising us. Because of her efforts, Eleanor and I are both very grounded individuals who continue to lead interesting lives. This was single-handedly, and on a limited budget. For this reason, my love and respect for my mother continues to grow.

Bill Long reminds me of my father. Both compartmentalized in order to survive. Bill, 80, has taken up with a woman who is 84. He spends time with Katie, but has made sure he has a life outside his life with her. The boundaries have been drawn, and are clearly discernible.

And when I was seven, my father left my mother, and later took up with another woman, who he eventually married. He got what he thought he needed—a lifelong companion. My mother was then thrust into the background. However, Eleanor and I have remained in the foreground.

I do not know how much of an obligation a man has to a woman after he marries her. But I have come to realize wedding vows are a pretty serious deal. One person agrees to take responsibility for the other in sickness and in health. Emotional attachment and detachment is a very serious matter.

See how complicated this all is? And I haven’t (as I could) elaborate on what’s going on here. If I were to expand upon this, I’d continue to either write metaphorically about background and foreground, or about boundaries. Actually, I could spend the rest of my life writing about yesterday afternoon, and the things that come to mind when I look at the images in the attached two photos. But I’m moving on. I’ve said all I can say about all this, at least for now.