It was a Friday evening and after a tiring workweek, I decided to go out for a relaxing evening. There was a café-bar in Palm Springs, California, the Sweetwater where ‘grandma’ adorned his apron and worked his magic grilling grandma burgers with French fries. It was a local watering hole with good inexpensive food and patrons wrote their names on the acoustic tiles above their favorite seats.
I had eaten dinner and was sitting at my table when I spotted the man of my dreams: 6 foot 2, handsome, manly (the Marlborough man type), talking to everyone, holding court. I looked and behold there was a bar stool open right next to him. It was a chance of a lifetime. As if in a game of musical chairs, I dashed to capture the prize chair. Not wanting to be obvious, I asked if the chair was taken. The reply (in a deep baritone voice), “No help yourself”.
We talked and he asked, ‘You want to…’,(my heart began to pound in anticipation of the big question), ‘go next door to Gloria 2’s for a nightcap?’ I paused and replied, ‘Yes that would be great.’ That was the beginning of a 13-year relationship.
We dated occasionally throughout the following month when he said that he had something important to talk to me about. We met and he disclosed that he was HIV positive. He later said that it was one of the hardest things for him to do along with coming out to his Irish Catholic family that he was both gay and HIV positive.
By the time that he had told me I was emotionally involved, as he too was intertwined. He told me to think more about what he had said and we would get together and talk later.
For the first four years, as we settled into his home and took on pets and possessions, things went smoothly. We had many similarities but also he was more outgoing and social and I was more the stay-at-home time. He would go out on the weekend to be with his friends while I stayed at home to relax. This continued until one night he didn’t come home. At 3 am, I called everywhere — his friends, the bar, the hospital — everywhere I could think. I totally trusted him so I thought it had to be something serious for him not to come home.
I was emotionally overwhelmed and he was detached... no big thing. In fact, he was to be congratulated for acting responsibly, i.e., passing out at a friend’s house and not driving home drunk this time. I was devastated and he was unfazed. Later he came home drunk, pass out and hit his head in the kitchen while I was sleeping. I found him bleeding on the floor the next morning. As he continued this behavior, we talked about how it affected me, and, as he continued, a piece of my love and caring became less sensitive.
I, as well as the Veteran Administration (VA), the hospital where he received treatment for HIV, thought that he should join Alcoholic Anonymous. His response was that it wasn't for him because he wasn't an alcoholic. He also thought that he was hiding his excessive smoking from the VA.
We both had strong personalities and he, according to my close friend — a doctorate / mental health counselor — was both controlling and manipulative. I was ignorant of the situation.
I did go to ALcoholics Anonymous and approached his family for an intervention but his family members were complacent as they too had alcohol troubles. I worked with the VA hospital, his doctors and staff, and had a meeting with them. Much was said and disclosed. My partner neither was surprised nor did he do anything to change his behavior. His family was invited to the VA meeting but refused. I think from his point of view, he wasn’t alcoholic, nor did he smoke too much or mismanaging his medications (e.g. by taking them while drinking alcohol).
As time passed and things did not improve, I told him that I would not sit around and watch him kill himself. We separated sporadically several months at a time and nearly a year before I completely moved out of the house.
We dissolved our California partnership and I started a new life. My partner seemed to remain stuck. I tried to help him move-on/ advance, as I still loved him. He acted hurt / wounded by my actions and separation.
Two years had passed, although I called him monthly, when I received a notice from his sister that he had passed away. I was and still am heartbroken. I question if things could have been different. I lament and after a few days, the answer still is a resounding “NO”. However, it still breaks my heart.
The height of my story is most sad and I don't think that my partner ever really understood what had transpired. We were both devastated and heartbroken. He loved me and I loved him. The final event that peaked years of trying times was a simple case of beer. While I went to the grocery store to buy food items for dinner, he came home with a case of beer. After all this time of watching him succumb more and more to alcoholism, I simply had enough. I told him that I was moving to my home. He told me to leave and that he too wanted to get on with his life. He died unexpectedly and as our California partnership was dissolved, his family refused me any involvement with his death and took everything that my partner and I had built together for thirteen years.
I truly believe that his family blamed his ‘gayness’ on me, and if it were not for me, he would have had a normal life, had not gotten AIDS or died as suddenly. I don’t think my story is much different from many others, i.e. the characters are different but the storyline remains the same.
Below is a list of international contacts for alcohol and chemical related information and /or dependence (international listing) and non-specific notes from Wikipedia about making a will or last testament. Please remember that the latter is by no mean comprehensive or applicable to every situation around the world. If you want to write your will and testament, get some professional advice.
Rajmond Perry was born in the late 1940’s and has been married to a younger mutual-gendered partner for seven years. Rajmond is a dual citizen of the EU, Hungary and United States of America, and is currently living as a business owner in Estonia. His education includes a postgraduate degree and background in social sciences /services as well as public relations and marketing, and health sciences (both general medical and mental health). Rajmond has lived and worked in China, South Korea, the United States, and the European Union.
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