Kevin's Hetero MFM Poly-Fi V
This'll be a "short" blog, :), assuming no one posts any thoughts/questions for me to respond to here, as I'm always willing to respond to thoughts and answer questions to my best knowledge. But, I am suggesting posting on this board to "someone in a success story," and thought it best that I practice what I preached. Who knows, hearing my story might help others, and I know I haven't posted much about my tale and situation elsewhere.
I was born in the heart of Mormon country in Utah in 1965, raised deep in the doctrines and activities of the church, and prided myself on being loyal to the church while questioning things at the same time. It turned out to be an uneasy truce between the church and I, but I learned a lot and was moved by much of what I heard from fellow members and what I read in the Scriptures (the Bible, King James Version, and the Book of Mormon and other Scriptures that said church presents in addition to the Bible).
As part and parcel of being raised in a very conservative community, I was made to understand that monogamy was the only suitable model for love and romance. I struggled a lot with my sexual urges as a teen and sorely chastized myself for having them. I went on three dates -- one being a bonafide romantic date -- and never knew a kiss in romance until I was 21.
When I was 19 the church sent me on a (just under) two-year mission (to convert non-members to the church -- this is something you just do as a faithful male member -- no questions asked) in the Southeast Michigan area, where I was stationed in various localities just outside of Detroit. I'd been out of State before but never so far away let alone for so long. Sometimes it was a trial by fire and for a brief time I considered running away to Colorado, where an ex-Mormon friend of mine and his open-minded folks had agreed to adopt me into their family. Fear kept me on the strait and narrow though; I turned down their offer.
I met a divorced lady in Michigan; I'll say her name is LV. She was much older than me and had kids my age, so it never occurred to me to think of her as anything but a platonic friend. But I ended up spending a lot of time in her company, and thought of her as quite a good friend. She had a daughter who lived in Utah and after my mission was done and I had returned to Utah, LV traveled to Utah to see her daughter, and stopped to see me at my folks' house along the way. It was just supposed to be one short visit, but somehow the visit lengthened into the late evening hours and then turned into as many visits as she could squeeze in before returning to Michigan. A romance had been born.
Well she and I were both rather freaked out about the age difference. But as the weeks and months rolled by, we started warming up to the idea, and next thing I knew I was proposing to her over the phone and she was saying yes.
She wanted to keep her house and home in Michigan and frankly I was glad for the excuse to leave Utah again. We married in the Washington D.C. temple (her favorite temple) in October of that year (1987). Her kids were not pleased, and made of themselves a long painful thorn in our sides from 1987 thru 2006 (and I hope I've seen the last of them).
After a couple of harrowing jobs over the next few years, I finally found my niche in piano teaching, and after a number of years was also hired at a Lutheran church to play organ every other Sunday and to accompany the choir. In the Mormon church I was made a choir director, and in and through these roles (I contrived to mix the company of the Mormon and Lutheran choirs, and had some success), LV and I met a newly-married couple in the Lutheran church, let's say their names are BH and LH. We got to know them as friends, but before very long they moved away, and honestly we didn't think we'd cross paths with them again.
But we did. The year was 2004 and I'd been hired as organist and choir director/accompanist for yet another Lutheran church, in another city. When LV and I first met with the church council there, lo and behold there were BH and LH. (He was actually president of the church council as I remember; she was head of worship.) We were elated to see them and happily renewed our friendship with them.
But BH and LH observed that things weren't going so well for LV and me. LV had started down the path of dementia (Alzheimer's probably), and was clinging to the familiar, while I had started rebelling against everything and had left the Mormon church (and become an atheist). We weren't functioning well; I had relied so much on LV in the past and now reacted with anger to her condition (given that her kids had labeled the condition poetic justice, their personal triumph over LV and me really), and struggled to hold our failing household together. (Trust me, the Mormon church didn't bother lifting a finger to help -- though LV had remained faithful to the church as long as her capacities would allow.)
I'll never know why, but like the Good Samaritan who had compassion on the man who'd been brutalized by thieves, BH and LH had compassion on LV and me, and essentially adopted us as family members. We ended up living with them in their home.
In the meantime, LH and I had ended up spending a lot of time together, working out a song schedule for the choir, and trying to figure out what to do about a couple of choirmembers who were real problems. At first LH and I exchanged some work-related emails, but the emails got longer, more frequent, and more personal, til finally she and I were confessing to each other that we had fallen in love.
Oh shit. Now what?
Kevin's Hetero MFM Poly-Fi V (Part 2)
[continued from above]
We had never heard of polyamory before, but LH was a web researcher and a problem-solver, and she soon found out about polyamory, and about polyfidelity which particularly interested her. Soon the plan became to forge a polyfidelitous N -- LV, me, LH, and BH. But first we had to try to present the idea to LV and BH, and wait until they were okay with the idea -- if they'd ever be okay with it.
Well LV said "We'll see," then "Okay," then "No," then "What was the question" as her mind got snipped apart by the dementia. BH, LH, and I eventually saw and agreed that we were just tormenting LV by presenting her with this confusing concept. We had all transitioned into the roles of caregivers towards her anyway and she was really operating from the perspective of a child, so we kind of just dropped the subject, removed any poly scenes from her sight and mind, and let whatever she saw and experienced become her reality.
In the meantime, BH was troubled by the prospect of polyamory, and LH approached the subject with him carefully and not too often. All told, they had a conversation about it that lasted about a year. Finally he started warming up to the idea, even coming to think of polyamory as a high ideal that he wished to support. So he agreed to try.
Our four-person family decided that we needed to move. I was down and depressed and the so-often overcast skies of Michigan (with its hot humid Summers and harsh icy Winters) were getting to me. BH's Catholic family was overbearing and BH and LH both needed to get away from that. So LH plunged into a new research project: deciding what State would suit us best. We picked a place near -- but not too near -- Utah. A place with a good economy and a low cost of living. A place that's flooded with Sunshine under a cloudless sky for most of the year. The place was New Mexico.
We lived in New Mexico for almost eight years, early 2006 thru late 2013. LV went downhill rapidly and soon overwhelmed our ability to keep up with her, so, in August of 2006, we took her to a nursing home, and started visiting her there as often as we could. This actually improved my relationship with her. She and I began to enjoy the warmth we once had, though sadly the import of that was of course lost on LV.
Meantime BH and LH -- you may call them Brother-Husband and Lady Hinge -- had joined me in a three-person V configuration. Brother-Husband and I remained platonic friends but shared the most profound thing two men can share: the woman we loved. The arrangement meant much to all three of us, but I won't pretend that it was a bed of roses. We had terrible dramatic upsets in our first few years together. I was undersexed and paranoid as well that Brother-Husband would get fed up with me and essentially veto me out of the operation. He in turn I think was concerned that the "new and shiny" (me) would replace him in Lady Hinge's eyes. And Lady Hinge, of course, felt torn between the two men that she loved among other things.
Well the short-term solution turned out to be getting me a domicile of my own for a few years. A cave if you will. A place I could retreat to when the going got tough. It took some time to make that happen, but once I had a little place of my own, things slowly started to improve. Mind you there were many more storms and upsets at first, but after a year or two, I began to realize that I was starting to feel a peace about things, and that Brother-Husband and I were growing increasingly comfortable in each other's presence. In time, I moved back in with my two V companions, and this time we found that we knew how to live together gladly and serenely.
In June of last year, LV passed away. It was a blessing. She had lost all ability to talk, hear, see, and recognize those who loved her. She was lonely and lost in a state of forever waiting, for what she could not know. She was probably waiting for me to "pick her up" and sweep her away, back into the paradisaical life she had once remembered with me. I could still visit her, but no longer could she see me, and if she could hear me I couldn't tell. It broke my heart. Losing her to the hand of Death broke my heart as well, but now I was just being selfish. I needed to let her go. She needed to be free of her sufferings.
A few months later Hinge Lady and I traveled to the sleepy little mountain town in Eastern Oregon where LV had been born and spent her early childhood years. We couldn't inter her ashes next to her Mom's grave (near San Francisco) as we'd hoped, but we got special permission from two of her old relatives to place her next to her very favorite (my favorite as well) aunt (in Oregon). She got a lovely little marker, with two small cats embracing. Appropriate since LV had kept at least one cat near her for most of her life. Her relatives place flowers on her aunt's grave every Memorial Day, and promised they'd now do so for LV too. Someday we'll return, one Memorial Day, and see that in person. But thus closes that chapter of our lives.
We then made the arrangements to move to the Seattle, Washington area, within easy reach of my favorite older brother, his wife, her daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend. By the time 2013 came to a close, we'd found a lovely little place to live in, and here we'll stay. Filled with New Mexican Sunshine, I now love the rainy days and believe it or not, Seattle does get a fair helping of Sunshine too. Temperatures are mild, and we're really happy to be here.
We've been handfasted as a V since August of 2009. We're open to the idea of growing into an N or an M or what have you, but we're not looking and we feel just fine with what we have. We limit sex to our three-person circle and won't date without keeping one another in the loop about what's up. We spend most of our evenings happily watching stuff like Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, the Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Weeds, and the Following together. Our cat and dog share this charming life with us. I've been essentially retired for quite a few years. My companions take good care of me.
This tells you the bulk of my story, but I'll gladly field any further thoughts and/or questions. I suppose my main point in posting here is to let you know that yes, polyamorous relationships can and do have happy endings. Not every time, but in this case and time for sure.
Thanks for sharing your story, Kevin. :)
I've seen first-hand the stress caregivers are under when taking care of someone with dementia, especially during those early times when they occasionally have lucid moments, and the days are filled with arguing, confusion, and heartbreak. I'm glad your wife, and you, are at peace now.
Thanks YouAreHere. Yeah it was really tough, and to be honest was one of the things that put such a strain on our newly-formed V. The move to a nursing home was a sad but necessary decision.
LV wasn't at all argumentative (alas that was my vice), but she was sure sad and confused. And she got into a lot of inadvertent mischief, which was possibly the biggest problem. Stuff like leaving the microwave door open when cats were around, then closing it without looking inside and using it as a "timer." Or the time she tried to put a fork away in a plug socket. Stuff like that. She really had to be watched constantly. And then of course when she gets stressed out she starts having "stomach trouble," so soon the incontinence started. That was really, really hard to handle. Especially since she'd try to clean up her own mess rather than get some help. She didn't want to trouble other people with her problems, ya know? I just can't express how tragic it all was.
Her stress levels eased way back down once she was in the nursing home, paradoxically. For years she was free of the incontinence stuff. And as I said, having her "at arm's length" like that actually helped me to rediscover my old relationship with her. But the sadness in me deepened again, as over the years, she slowly slipped away.
I miss her a lot. I hear things like her old favorite Carpenters and John Denver songs and it pulls my heart strings all over again. Had I a genie and three wishes I'd wish her back again (with her whole mind restored). But I do take comfort (even as an atheist) in knowing that she's not in that sad awful state anymore.
My ex's grandmother went through a similar time... his mom was home to take care of her (she went to eldercare during the day) and it just grew more and more difficult - leaving burners on the gas stove turned on, that type of thing. Sadly, but fortunately, when she had a stroke, she had to move into a nursing home, which helped alleviate the stress on my MIL. It was extremely tough on her, but I saw the same thing happen to her afterward - their relationship improved up until she didn't recognize anyone anymore. My ex and I were "the nice people who brought children in to see me".
But I'm glad we could make her happy by bringing our daughter, and explaining (repeatedly, but nicely) that they have the same name. That really brightened her up, even when she didn't understand the significance anymore. :)
Yeah, I think getting dementia rather forces one to more and more treasure the little things ... as the big things simply become too vast for one's mind to envelop. The little pleasures of visiting a child, or sharing a name with someone. These are largely the only pleasures a dementia victim has left.
So sorry to hear about your ex's grandmother, and what your MIL went through trying to keep up with caregiving. LV's mother also had dementia, probably the same type -- at about the same age -- so I think it was genetic. Wasn't much of a comfort to think so, though.
I'm so glad you got to spend time with her before she passed, one of my last jobs I had before I retired was a personal care attendant. One of my last charges was a lovely 92 year old lady who had a host of problems, but who's children stopped coming to see her when her dementia and incontinence problems became too great for them to handle. I looked forward to visiting with her and helping her with simple tasks and personal hygiene, during her more lucid moments she would relate stories of her childhood, time that I came to treasure. Eventually she stopped eating (she believed she was saving money), and had to be placed in a nursing facility. Even though I'm not her caregiver any longer, I still stop in to see her from time to time, share a story or a simple joke, or simply hold her hand. :)
That's awesome, Oldpolyman. It amazes me, sometimes, the people who step up to help, when one's own family has decided you're not worth their bother anymore.
LH (a.k.a. Lady Hinge) Gets a New Handle
Henceforth Lady Hinge shall hereby be called Snowbunny. :D
Though not a registered member, she did recently use that handle when advising another member thru my account.
Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to Seattle! :)
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