Viatical

Excerpts taken from a young woman’s diary

Diary June 1996

My birthday!.. Too old to celebrate, I am certain that is what you are thinking. It is a national past time. Age and what it means. Over the hill at 40. Definitely at 50. And then when you reach the milestone of 100, everyone starts to have parties. No matter, you cannot enjoy them because your adult diaper is on crooked and no-one has the responsibility an infant’s keeper has. And you sleep through most of it, also much like an infant.

No, I am going to enjoy this 43rd non descript birthday.

I got my first card today in bed! From my reason for celebrating. I had met someone new and now it looked like my life was going to turn around. Someone who cares as much for me as I do for her.

Maybe even more so.

I have been warned, but the warnings “no stick”.Even her family. But I can assure you, my inanimate friend, they do not know her.

She is a sweet kind person who has discovered me as I have her. She feels differently about me. And this is the person no one can see, because this is the person who has not found mutual love.

Until now.

August 1996

My sister and mother came from Kenosha to visit out of the blue. Why? My father told me when I called him that he instructed them NOT to show up on my doorstep.

However, they did. I should not put “however” because it is a given that the wicked witch of the North and her flying monkey will go anywhere and everywhere they are forbidden. And raise havoc. Which they did. Then they left.

December 1996

Christmas. It has been hectic, I know I should write more often, but I have been both busy, and a bit under the weather. Unusual for me. I have no time for being sick. And please do not tell anyone, (like you could) but I have no patience for the unwell.

 My sister went to Disneyworld for Christmas.  She doesn’t work, has no money, how the hell does she do this?  I have no doubt my mother helped, but from last I heard, my father said they were having a few financial problems.  My mother said he exaggerates.

I got over 100 Christmas cards. I write about that because one wasn’t signed. Very frustrating.

Next year I will go through all these cards to make my list. And will be frustrated all over again.

You will receive one from me this year. You will probably send me a card next year, signed, but won’t receive one from me, because I DIDN’T KNOW you sent me one. And then the following year you won’t send me one. It will take 4 years to fix this.

whew!!! This is exhausting just thinking about it. I will always double-check to make CERTAIN I will sign it.

June 21, 1997

Again, I received my first card in bed, and my second. Taylor gave me the first, my sweet daughter the second. And it’s Saturday!!!!

June 21 1997

Ok, same day. I never write same day. But now I am just plain pissed.

I got many birthday cards over the previous week, so, very few today. Two. And one not signed. Who is this fucking imbecile?

Maybe they will call.

Christmas 1997

What another splendid year. However, I was totally preoccupied with WHY SOMEONE SENT ME A CARD UNSIGNED.

And I am ill again. Worse than last year.

Sometimes I throw up every day. I hate doctors, but if this keeps up I will have no options.

January 1998

I went to the doctor. Of course I was no longer sick.

After explaining the last two xmas’s being sick, he concluded I need a shrink. I am allergic to Christmas. Something about my brother dying.

June 1998

I won’t go into great detail. It’s fathers day, the same day I was born, but my mother and sister asked me to not call.

“We all know you were born on fathers day. Why don’t you just let dad have his day instead of trying to get all the attention. He may not live very long”

Now, the average family, the normal family would expect such a call under the circumstances.

I got an unsigned card. I want to believe it’s from my sister not wanting people to know. But she sends out schmaltzy cards with poetry because she has no idea how to be sentimental, so why not hire someone else. For $2 it’s a deal. I hope it’s her.

December 1998

Ok. I feel like crap. Not as bad as last year.

I have been seeing a shrink and there is a lot to say about the subconscious and ritual.

And the ritual of an unsigned x-mas card once again. These cards don’t even have character so I can GUESS. They look like the cards my grandma would pick up at the dime store. For a dime.

June 1999

My daughter isn’t here.

She told her counselor she was being abused and was going to run away.

I asked the counselor what was it that was causing this abuse? Her room and the mess I allow her to keep it in? Is it her computers, personal phone? All her friends having keys to the house and having carte blanche to come and go? Was it my extreme blind love for her? Was it my working my ass off so she can go to every debate tournament, out of state debating, Europe?

I got ANOTHER of those cards. Maybe it’s from her. She is crafty enough to want to be part of my celebration and stubborn enough to not admit it.

Taylor decided we will send her to her dad’s and that is where she has been for almost 5 months.

December 1999

My psych doctor decided to send me to an internist.

All I will have to ask him is “WHO THE HELL IS SENDING ME THESE ANNONYMOUS CARDS.

June 2000

My daughter graduated and is going on to college. This will be my last birthday where she is absolutely required to be a part of it. She is finally back in the fold.

And I am not as sick these days. I still work unreal hours, sometimes over 60 a week up to 80. But I start each day sick. I think I’ll go on a fast.

December 2000

Merry Christmas.

I have lost 40 pounds. I decided to fast and it made me feel so good, I continued with a very limited healthy diet.

This is my first Christmas without feeling like a burden. At times, I was certain Taylor had it and would leave. But she thrives with the ill. She works in the hospital and even though, there have been times her frustration would show through, but her deep emotions would win. She seems pre-occupied this year.

My daughter came home from college. She has had mono and has had a most difficult year.

And again…the card.

We are moving. Let’s see if this ghost follows.

June 2001

I cannot believe we move and everything moves with us, even this constant teasing greeting card thing. I actually went to the police station. They laughed. What should I expect? But it has gone from irritation to anger, then curiosity, then anger again and now, it is fear.

I was called into Human Resources last week. They had been getting calls every year on my birthday and they refused to confirm or deny my employment because of the suspicious nature of the inquiry. I wish I had known. I could have told the police. But now as it stands, they think I am a loon and this additional information is only another confirmation that I am out of my mind.

The HR guy doesn’t think so, but it has sent red flags. Am I in trouble? Do I have an unsettled debt? The questions all being answered with a firm NO.

I had a pulmonary embolism last month. I don’t take time to write about it because of my preoccupation with my Birthday and will the card come? I actually hope it will because the alternative would be worse. I wouldn’t know why I didn’t get it. Perhaps this anonymous person no longer lived. Or cared.

December 2001

This has been a bad year for everyone. We were first hand witnesses to the death of thousands by terrorism.

And I got my personal terrorism. This year the card was a might better in that it had character, and it was funny. A Shoebox greeting about an old woman celebrating her’s and the Christ child’s mutual birthdates. But it just didn’t come off as funny as it could.

I had two operations in as many months and had a hysterectomy for Christmas that literally almost killed me. I am on far too much pain medicine. I know this, but refuse to stop. And Taylor advocates it,. She said I could not work without it. The fentanyl is the worst of the bunch. It is in patches and sometimes they don’t stick. They are costly, so she said I should just tear open the defective ones and take the whole mess.

I have since found out I have been taking enough to put 10 heart patients down.

After I got this last card, I opened a perfectly good patch and consumed it, sleeping for 2 days. But I woke up and the card was there on my end table untouched. Still there. I need to sleep, I am not feeling as well as I could.

June 2002

We moved to New Hampshire and I at once felt relieved. My health has started to improve. And my sister and mother have made amends with me, talking to me daily. Most days I ask Taylor to speak to them. I am too exhausted for anything. I really wish we had not made contact with them.

I got the card. This time it had a lot of flowers and trees. Very maudlin. I wonder if I would have gotten it if we had not talked to the family.

Happy Birthday to me. I am far too sick to enjoy it.

December 2002

My daughter needs additional funds to go to the another college. And even though she has a perfectly good scholarship to a more than amazing school -Drake, I want her to be happy.

I am going to cash in my insurance policy. Life insurance.

My mother sold Life Insurance for many years becoming one of the most successful in her field. So of course her children (me) are set.

I am going to give my little girl a fat healthy check for Christmas.

I got the card. I think I would be disappointed if I didn’t

January 2003

I have been far too ill, vomiting, stomach and head problems. I have gained 100 pounds in spite of the exhausting vomiting.

The doctors know nothing. They prescribe. Taylor insists. Insists I have all these tests, intrusive tests like heart catheterizations. Insists I see specialists who seem to find this an interesting puzzle.

I called my life insurance company located in Milwaukee since my mother closed her general agency after Roy died in Kenosha and something is not right. In 1996, they said, my policy was put in another name. What? How can they do that? It was a company name. My first notion was that perhaps my mother put it in another company to draw better retirement. But the insurance company said I would have had to agree to this.

How? How DO I AGREE? I had to sign papers, the woman told me, but she became mute and refused to discuss it. Did I sign anything in 1996? August to be exact. What did I do in 1996? Who can remember what they did last week much less almost 10 years ago?

I called my mom, but my sister is back to her old tricks refusing to let me speak to her “Upset her”.

How am I upsetting her? WhenEVER her policy holders die, she is the first one on the scene helping them through the mounds of paperwork, making certain to get the proper compensation, which is NEVER the amount they expect. But in a time where a loss has occurred arguing about money is vulgar.

June 2003

I have been far too ill to do anything but lay here and wait for a better day to come.

Taylor has been very upset by my maladies, but she takes care of me. I get around by wheelchair WHEN I get around. I am on an oxygen machine. First it was CPAP but now it’s pure oxygen.

She made me a beautiful cake, but I could barely eat it.

And I got a card. But it wasn’t a birthday card, it was a get well card. Taylor said she thinks it’s just a coincidence and that we probably actually know the sender who may have actually forgot to sign it. But I didn’t get an unsigned birthday card.

December 24, 2003

I am writing this from my hospital bed. It took many days for Taylor to find it, even though I knew exactly where it was. She finally found it.

I asked to see all the cards this year, and the card was not there. But I am certain, if it was – Taylor would not want to upset me.

December 26, 2003

Still no anonymous greeting. I guess that’s good. But I do not believe it.

I am not entering daily posts. I have very little to say. My illness has taken over every part of my life. I am going to give my book – my journal, to one of the nurses I met here. I asked him to send it to my daughter. If she is still speaking to me.

I could not give her that check, and I promised her. It is my fault.

January 2004

I cannot continue like this..

I am so

Please, remember child I love you. And I have a surprise for you.


Those were the last words she wrote. The nurse forwarded the Journal to California where her daughter lived.  Enclosed with the journal was a check to her daughter for $75,000.


Two months later

Taylor had lain Dianne to rest one month prior. She then took the money she had been saving all these years, packed up her things, bought that $5000 dog and was heading out to Belize to start a diving company. It took a bit longer than she had hoped, but now it happened.

She circled down the drive, took one last look and then pulled up to the mailbox.

She found the usual credit card offers, a few bills she would ignore

… and a card. A birthday card. To her.

It wasn’t signed.

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