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A Year of Living Positively -Day 56

Time is moving sluggishly for me today, but I like the down time. It's been dark and rainy for the past two days, and I'm in a bit of a funky introverted mood so I should be doing nothing much at home. I do not even feel inclined to go out for groceries, though my food supply is very low today.

That kind of mood happens once in a while, and the rain can facilitate it. Obviously, I experienced that kind of mood more often living back in Vancouver.

I had to stick around for at least half a day today because it was time to make a phone call to my brothers in Canada. I have been particularly trying to catch my eldest brother in because it's been a while since I spoke with him and he could not be reached around the time of his birthday in mid-January.

It's hard to contact him because he is half homeless. He has never received treatment for a mental illness that he was diagnosed with back in his early twenties. He just gets angry when confronted about problems of any sort, and he has grown more and more paranoid over the years. He's getting to be really fruity. 

It's such a sad story, for used to have a bright and gentle yet playful personality, and he was creative and sporty. I've described my father in this blog, so you can probably understand that my father tried to quash his development rather than praise and nurture it, and that there was therefore a lot of tension between them. After he first moved out to share an apartment in Vancouver's West End, some kind of catastrophe or disappointment took place because he retreated and returned home and because socially withdrawn after that. He would only do telephone sales from home, and has barely been able to scrape a living out of that occupation and has not been able to make a living for about the past 10 years. My mother encouraged dependency, and the dependency brought out my father's rage until, sometime after my mother passed away and my father remarried, my father, lacking skills of negotiation and problem-solving, simply turfed him out of the family home. He survived in rented apartments in Burnaby for nearly 25 years, until he was evicted and one of my younger brothers, the rescuer who takes after my mother and likes to nurture dependency in relationships with vulnerable people, took him home. He has always been too paranoid, and likely afraid of having his mental illness exposed, something which he apparently cannot bear to admit or have known, to apply for welfare or see doctors. He boarded there, hardly ever paying rent for nearly ten years while his condition just degenerated until that younger brother got frustrated (at the situation that he had created by not laying down rules and giving him cash all the time for a long time), which was really that younger brother being frustrated at his own problems. (He chronically overspent by giving money to women and their kids and overextending himself in investments--but that's another story.) Anyway, young brother practically kidnapped him one day and forced him to submit to a medical evaluation, but nothing serious could be diagnosed in that context, though the doctor and hospital social worker made arrangements for social services support, pending the decision of the patient in question. That is, the system cannot force people to submit to medical treatment, unless there are crimes or misdemeanors committed that warrant police intervention, which the eldest brother carefully avoided, as he used to be able to hid his ailment. A couple of winters ago, he turned 60, but he would not claim his national employee's pension benefit. The benefit payable had dwindled anyway, because of he had not been employed in wage labour much for a long time, and it so happened that the government had chopped the benefit as of that year. Younger brother hesitated, but began shutting him out sometimes, hoping he'd take welfare or something. Then younger brother lost his job, which everyone had predicted but he...anyway, that brother began to panic and sank into deep financial trouble, not being employed again for about a year. Elder brother has since only been permitted to stay overnight at that house two nights a week, so he began sleeping in parks or hanging out all night in McDonald's restaurants as of about a year and a half ago. He has never relented. Rather, he lost weight dramatically, and got spacier and spacier. Brother number three, himself a mental health patient on permanent disability, and his wife, take him in most weekends. 

It has been very painful to think of someone in my immediate family roaming and sleeping in the streets, despite all his faults and lack of responsibility, and bouts of vicious anger. I send him cash and clothing a few times a year and when I visit. (I used to send $200 a month for food and some rent for brother two, but he throws away anything over $100, so we learned not to give him too much at a time, as if he were a druggie, which he is definitely not. He never even drinks a drop of alcoholic drink.) Finally, a relative in another province who is the the financial authority for number three is investigating new housing arrangements for both mentally ill brothers. This step is long overdue. We need to make changes to assist them survive through their senior years. The healthier ones in my immediate family tend to be passive and resistant to change. 

I usually get too emotional about family matters. I'm getting better as my understanding of them and their situation grows, and they become more confident in me. I'll just let them handle this and carry on.

I booked by trip to Florence yesterday. I lucked out and found a bargain flight with Lufthansa Airlines direct from Seoul to Frankfurt. It took some research to find appropriate accommodations, and I ended going with Hosteling International and getting a bed in a large female dorm in central Florence. As the conference fee is around $600, I am thinking of foregoing it. Foregoing it would necessitate being clandestine or at least coy about my activities in the week of the voyage.

The weather is supposed to clear up by tomorrow, so I want to go to Gimhae for a day tour. Gimhae is the site of the ancient capital of the Gaya civilization, and therefore full of history and artifacts. I have never been there, though.



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