Blog No. 78 Part 2 of 4
NOTE: Part 2 briefly relates the three years when I lived with my cousin in Florida; never dreaming that an almost full time Julie would evolve as a result. Robbie Burns, the Scotch poet, wrote around 1780: “The best laid schemes o` mice an` men gang aft a-gley”. And so my plans to rewrite my memoir and live happily ever after takes an unexpected turn.
I won’t attempt to exhume the many bad memories of my marriage ─ we tend to hide the bad and only remember the good times ꟷ but, nevertheless, after fifty-two years together I do admit to moments of nostalgia. Neither divorce attorneys had their hearts in their work and so the proceedings weren’t contentious. I mention my marital status as during this time, in early 2009, I was corresponding by e-mail with my closest friend of more than eighty years, my first-cousin living in Florida. She had been widowed for some seven years. Her husband died while doing what he most enjoyed ─ suffered a massive heart attack at the instant he drove his ball off the first tee of a private golf course. In the years that I lived on the East Coast we, my wife and I, and she and husband – would spend one evening a week together for dinner or sometimes take a golfing visit to Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head. When her husband went into the army in World War II, and I hadn’t yet left for service, I would take her to the Glen Island Casino near New Rochelle, New York, to dance to the “Big Bands” of that era ─ trying to take her mind away from being a new bride with a husband off to war. In other words we had always been very close.
Our mail became progressively more intense as she was lonely and I was driven by a desire to rewrite my memoir and, optimistically, to lead a happier life than I had in recent years.
From reading the first edition of my memoir, published seven years previously, she knew of my cross dressing but I still made a point to remind her that I had the need to continue the “Habit” as it was the nature of the beast (Wasn’t the time to explain in further detail.). Her reply was “No problem, I love you so much.” Sure I was very fond of her but could I reciprocate her love? The closest I had ever come to that emotion was many years ago when I thought I was in love with Helene, my French-Canadian gal. If I really were in love at that time I would have married her despite the fact that I had yet to attain a college degree much less have a job. I guess it was an infatuation stoked by four years of periodic meetings in Quebec City or in New York. Understandably, she gave up waiting. Yes, I have no doubt that my CD veneer shielded me from such emotions as love.
This new chapter of my life began without hesitation on either of our parts ─ she had set up one of the three bedrooms for me to use as a work/writing space and two dresser drawers in her bedroom had been emptied for my things which included lingerie. Her comment at the time was “you have more sexy things than I”. In retrospect, she had accepted and supported my Cding without a verbal statement but by her actions ─ really the better way.
The last six years before her husband’s demise had been strained. In fact, the large box of condoms found in his belongings certainly confirmed that he had been cheating ꟷ as years before she had a hysterectomy so condoms weren’t needed. Husbands straying is not that uncommon for many males in their later years suffer from male menopause. That’s not quite true ─ a misconception on my part. Men often suffer from midlife crisis ꟷ a quest for identity ─ questioning whether one has fulfilled personal expectations. Many females who have selected career paths usually reach that crisis earlier when the gender glass ceiling might be encountered. Point being that often menopause arrives after that mid-life crisis, if faced at all.
Sorry, digressing. Perhaps her yearning for affection, lost some years before, would explain one reason that being now exposed to crossdressing for the first time didn’t appear to be the least bit traumatic for her ─ perhaps a trade-off. An assumption on my part.
We mutually agreed that six hours during the day would be set aside for me to work on my book and the rest of the time would be shared. From the get go we both dressed in our large, mutual, bedroom. I would, daily, fully dress in bra, panties, hosiery and a girdle. She was amazed that I would wear so much lingerie but I dismissed that comment with “That’s what I’ve been wearing for years ꟷ it makes me happy.” I really couldn’t even explain to myself the rationale. I knew it was more complicated than a mere fetish action. Nevertheless, my response was awfully cold and certainly was no help towards her understanding.
To this day I kick myself for turning down her offer to help hook my bra. I believe at the time my reasoning was that I didn’t want my dressing to appear to be a recent “thing” ─ that it was no more than routine. Upon reflection ─ her helping me dress would have been a turn-on. Stupid me!
Within weeks my cousin presented me with some of her skirts and tops along with a nice two-piece evening gown. I hadn’t requested them but gladly accepted. Her clothes came with one caveat: not allowed to wear them out of the house. Wasn’t surprised. Could wear very light makeup (I only possessed foundation and powder at that time.) but not when we planned to go to her very classy golf club for a weekly dinner. We ate out every night at the finest restaurants so I would always wear a sports jacket which nicely covered my bra. Those arrangements were fine with me as it’s understandable for a CD’s partner to fear discovery by her friends. Should mention, to ease my own conscience, that since I wasn’t paying towards my lodging I covered all the restaurant expenses.
Sex life with my former wife had ended at least eight years before our divorce ─ exact circumstances not now recalled. Ability for an erection probably waned not long thereafter ꟷ hazy memory of just when. And at 84, when intercourse was called for ꟷ I couldn’t achieve an erection lasting more than a few seconds and certainly penetration wasn’t possible. I felt guilty that I could still, with my cousin’s stimulation, climax possibly twice a week but so one sided! She assured me that she felt a thrill each time I came, but convincing myself of that was, to my way of thinking, self-serving. Upon returning from dining out, very frequently, seated on her living room couch she would delight in opening my shirt and lowering my bra enough to kiss my breasts. Then she would teasingly complain that she had to pull down my pantyhose and girdle to reach my penis ꟷ “so much clothes”. Now, thinking back over those few years, it was a fantastic time. What heterosexual CD would not have been in heaven to be fondled while fully underdressed?
My own feeble efforts to bring her to an orgasm were just that “feeble”. Come to think about it ꟷ seldom, if ever, have I even tried to bring a gal to climax other than through intercourse. What a selfish SOB have I always been!
I eagerly attended the V.A. Medical Center’s bi-weekly ED meeting ꟷ probably fifty men representing both younger and older vets were there. Of interest were the kits they handed out consisting of a plastic pump-like device and instructions, of coarse. The idea was to exercise the penis. It didn’t achieve its objective ─ discouraging for both of us.
For the following two years I could say that my sex life was more than just satisfying. My former wife had never suggested or requested that we indulge in less conservative versions of sex play. She grew up at a Hudson Bay fur trading post in the far north. Her dad was Scotch and her mother a Cree. If anything I would say that she was taught to be stoic in her emotions.but now I had a willing pupil! It seems ludicrous but I was actually reluctant to share what deviations I had experienced as a bachelor ꟷ “shy” for want of a better explanation.
But something else was brewing with my cousin. It wasn’t until about the third year of my stay in Florida before the signs crystalized. An old cliché, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” might apply. Soon after my arrival I noticed a bottle of vodka in the refrigerator. Didn’t think anything unusual until after two or so weeks went by and she asked me to buy another bottle. When asked, she shrugged it off by commenting, “It must be the cleaning lady taking a nip.” Strange since that lady only came in once a week. So that very night I decided to put a small ink mark at the remaining liquor level in the bottle. Sure enough it had gone down during the night.
Early one morning I awoke to the sound of crashing glass. Investigating, I found my cousin standing in the kitchen and glass everywhere including imbedded in her bare feet. Took an hour to bandage her up and clean up the mess. Yet not a word of explanation or apology. Embarrassed, I suppose.
I wasn’t her husband nor was it my house so couldn’t very well order her to stop. Hardly adequate but the best I could do was to make her promise not to have more than two drinks during the day. She never appeared drunk or slurred her words so it was difficult to ascertain whether she kept her promise or not. At least there were no hidden bottles I could find.
Drinking in excess turned out to be only one aspect of odd behavior that became more and more frequent. During my lifetime I had encountered alcoholics but never anybody developing dementia, so I admit to not recognizing the early symptoms. For example, I noticed that, on occasion, when paying her monthly bills she would write a check paying a statement (not an invoice) or use a deposit slip as though it were a check. When pointing out her errors ꟷ she did correct but never tried to explain. This was getting serious. Ironically, in recent years she had, monthly, flown down to Miami (From New Jersey) to do her aging mother’s bills … and now?
Often she would walk into my work space and start verbally attacking me with imaginary grievances. Learned not to react nor did she seem to be seeking a response. An hour later no sign of being upset ꟷ like it never happened. Some of the other events come to mind: We were deplaning at W. Palm Beach International from a trip to New Jersey to visit with her family when flight attendants requested we remain in our seats until an ill passenger was first taken off ꟷ cousin tried to get out of her seat ─ I gently held her down. Once deplaned she flagged a porter to pick up her bags and, boarding an electric cart, headed for the exit without me. Fortunately, the driver of the limo I had arranged to pick us up waited for me to catch up.
When driving a few hours down to the Miami area to attend a wedding or a graduation; both of which entailed staying overnight ꟷ she went directly to bed and stayed there until half the festivities were over. Like a little girl pouting with no reason given. Took her to the ER of a local hospital when she complained of rectal bleeding. Admitted to hospital to run usual tests. Few hours later, early in morning, I was called back. They tried to give her a colonoscopy and she scratched one nurse and punched another. The following day, after she returned home, her doctor sent a nurse to do a proctoscopy. She would have none of it. I could think of a number of possible reasons for her reaction ꟷ will never know.
More than once she ordered me to get out, leave. Even progressed so far that I went to pick up pamphlets listing nearby apartments. Hours later the possible reasons were completely forgotten whatever they were. Contrast that behavior with her insistence that we should go to sleep holding hands (Difficult for me as I normally sleep on my side – tossing and turning all night.).
Problem was that these bouts of strange conuct were becoming more frequent coupled with increased use of alcohol. My speculation was that she realized in her own way that she was losing her reasoning powers (once considerable) and the drinking was an attempt to stifle her frustrations. It’s common, myself included, that with advancing age we start projects only to begin another without completing the first one; or put things away in odd places. It is scary as we become concerned that our minds are deserting us. The big difference between her and myself was that she never seemed to realize her forgetfulness.
Her youngest son, who was her executor, also noticed the weird actions during the few times he visited. He arranged for two doctors to come to her home a few hours apart. Should mention that she had hearing aids she refused to use despite me buying smaller ones for her. I suspected it was a vanity issue. So when these doctors visited she guessed (mostly incorrectly) what questions were being asked. Neither doctor picked up on her deafness. I watched while she was being steam rolled out of her financial assets. I already suspected that dementia or even Alzheimer’s had taken hold so what would be the point of intervening? I still believe her son was hurrying her departure as many times she voiced her desire to finish her life at home. A 24-hour aide coverage would have been a fraction of what her assets ended up paying. Of course, if she had stayed, her son would not have been able to sell her home and contents here in Florida.
I was instructed by her son to be out of her home before she returned from a detox center. I only had a week to find an apartment (Found a nice one twenty minutes away.) and buy furniture for it. I left, easily, forty thousand dollars’ worth of antiques and collectables (my half from marriage) at her house figuring I would pick them up after I was settled ─ wrong! Son immediately found a buyer for house and all my stuff disappeared. But that’s another story of greed gone unpunished that to fill in details would take too long to narrate here (also agonizing for me to think about that and other episodes by this son – the youngest one.). Will mention that he was strongly opposed to my living with his mother. My cousin told him more than once that “If we have a child it would be named after you.” (Not physically possible for either of us.). Really rubbed a raw spot with him. I think a psychologist could easily find the root of his attitude.
My cousin was frantic when not finding me upon returning to her home from detox. It became an excruciating experience for both of us – receiving eight phone calls a day were the norm. Did visit her a few times a week before she left Florida. How to tell her, each time, that I had to leave after a few hours’ visit took imagination on my part. To avoid a tantrum and a physical confrontation I would give an excuse why I was leaving the room (like going to bathroom). The nurse assigned to her 24/7 would then have to quiet her down for the required few minutes before she forgot I had left ─ not easy.
Within a month my cousin was on her way to New Jersey on the pretext of a family visit. Not difficult to make her go as a number of times while I was still living with her she would suggest that “we go visit my two sons and their families for a few hours”. She thought they were a few blocks away and not some eighteen hundred miles.
To make a very sad story a bit longer: Going North less than two years later to attend my only brother’s funeral, her eldest son and I went to visit his mother in a very nice, and expensive, facility in New Jersey. She showed no sign of recognizing either of us! Most upsetting were her eyes ꟷ they looked right through me ─ so blank! Can’t think of another malady that is so gut wrenching to families while the patient is blissfully unaware.
Events had moved so swiftly! An analogy might be falling into a lake. One’s instinct would be to swim to shore, to survive and not to ponder what had just transpired. What now?
Continued in Blog 78 Part 3