Frank: Providing Support for Gloria

Gloria needed periodic hospitalizations because of her unpredictable, and sometimes violent, unsafe behavior. Frank recalled a number of incidents that led to hospitalization.

She would just get mad and she would throw things on the floor, like dishes--throw them on the floor, and busted them all to pieces. Then there would be a mess, and of course I didn’t want to clean it up so I’d tell her to clean it up. She wouldn’t do it. Of course [we] started fighting. Then we’d take her to the doctor and they’d put her in the hospital. From there, she’d go to the mental institution and she was institutionalized maybe four or five different times. She’d try to get a job and then she couldn’t.

Gloria’s unpredictability challenged Frank. On one occasion after shattering a plate, Gloria threatened to kill herself. He called the sheriff who took a butcher knife away from Gloria. One Sunday morning, Frank was getting ready to go to church and saw his pickup across the road in a ditch. Gloria had taken the pickup and when returning could not find the driveway and ran the pickup off the road.

The family now shares stories and laughs about what happened. When some of their adult children were visiting, Gloria and several children were in the car when they came across a dead turkey in the road. Gloria got out of the car, found a rag to wrap up the turkey, and said she was taking the turkey home. When asked what she wanted with the turkey, she told her children that Frank wanted to make something with the turkey feathers. The daughter who owned the car, told Gloria that she would not put the turkey into her car. The family went home without the turkey.

On another occasion, when Gloria and Frank went to the pharmacist to pick up her medication, Gloria asked the pharmacist, who was a good friend, if he had any money. She asked him for the $100 in his billfold and told Frank that she was leaving him. She took the bus to go stay with her daughter in another city, bringing no luggage with her. Gloria told Frank, “I’m never coming back home.”

A month later, Frank traveled to his daughter’s home to take care of Gloria while his daughter went on vacation with her family. A social worker was looking for a place for Gloria to live. Frank remembered talking with Gloria about her plans.

I was sitting there and said, “Gloria, do you really want to do that?” She said, “Well, do you want me to come home and I said I would love to have you come home. I’ll promise what I’ll do. I’ll live in the basement. You can live upstairs. We can have a decent life.” She decided to do that and things got a little better then.

Frank described their early years as a “tough go” for his family. He faced up to his own drinking problem and “sobered up on October 15th of 1980.” Then Frank decided to go to nursing school to become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse); he graduated in 1984. Gloria started working at the human service center in town where Frank also worked and life improved for both Gloria and Frank.

She did very well up there for a long time, because everybody liked her. Her meds were adjusted. We had stability at the tail end. She was towards the tail end a very good woman. The kids loved her.

Frank explained what “a good woman” meant to him.

She did what she possibly could. I think all of these things, making amends with the kids, helping me, and being married, she was a very nice lady. We got along very well for the last quite a while.

More of the Story: Focusing on Self-Care