Biographical Non-Fiction posted May 16, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level
Who are those that may be geniuses, yet damnedmed .

Where Lands The Albatross

by ElPoetry001


I remember him every day, his skills at math, engineering, art, music. It all made everyone believe he was happy and well adjusted, but life often provides incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

I often close my eyes and recall his music, his clarinet and the alto and tenor saxophones. His practicing was my private concert.

He traveled on weekends with a band, during the week, he was painting in oils and watercolors, and he carved intricate figures of animals.

He learned to fly airplanes, and soloed as a teenager, without his parents knowing he took a lesson.
He built real airplanes, with his brother, from schematics, and flew them as an aerobatic pilot with smoke trails following the dives and rolls of the plane. Not like the planes of today. No, just wood, crate-like with wings.

The vicarious thrill was everything, watching the spins and turns, while always realizing the possibility of a crash landing.

Members of the engineering section, Medical Science, of the Mayo Clinic, noticed his superior skills and they hired him out of high school, a gift, and a curse.

His was the smile of self-confidence, while he provided self-assured answers to difficult engineering and medical questions. He worked closely with skilled surgeons, discovering the marriage of medicine, science, and medical engineering.

His curse was working in a sea of college educated engineers and doctors--brightly colored fish, with fan-like fins, while he like a metaphorical lonely sardine, pondered his secretly isolated and mundane existence.

He did not have a college degree, and his hidden melancholia unceasingly attacked his spirit, and increased his feeling of low self-esteem. Yes, he was the man of Thoreau's writings: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Trying to fit into society or try to get by without conforming.

He hated the college-trained imbeciles who possessed no creativity and little activity, only authority. The entitled were incessantly chattering about their last party at the local country club. He was not a member.

He received what he thought were minimal accolades for his many contributions to major medical projects such as the cardiopulmonary bypass, in which he played a major role. He did not receive a pay increase or receive any specific recognition, while the management staff of Medical Science was celebrated for its contribution to medicine.

I was young, unsophisticated, playing team sports in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, so I missed all subtle signs of his mental torment. At first, I noticed only a few clues that he was severely clinically depressed.
He maintained his outward appearance. He was handsome with dark black, naturally curly hair, pearl-white teeth, a distinctive mustache, at 5"10' and 150 pounds.

His voice was the well-modulated, radio announcer solid, with strong projection, expressing answers and opinions that did not vacillate. He dressed in a dark blue suit, a white shirt, and blue stripes on a white tie, a powerful image that exuded success; in reality, as life and irony met, his exterior masked a man in depression, anxiety, and indecision. He refused to embrace what the psychologist told him. "It is not what you are that holds you back; it is what you think you're not."

During the summer, he became ill, and went to the hospital for pain of the liver, a history of alcohol abuse.
He was in the hospital for over a year, in a small room, painted in institutional off-white, straight-backed chairs with no cushions, and a small bathroom. No sunshine sought entrance to the room.

I visited him often, and realized he was letting go, ready to take his place in the parade of death. Emaciated, with yellowing skin, bedsores, ugly dragon toenails, chalk-white hair, and bad teeth were just a few of his increasing burdens. In their peace in line is the next step, or renewal?

He was released from the hospital almost unrecognizable, a stooped, shrunken shell that soon became uncontrollable: he dyed his hair red, resumed drinking, and drove aimlessly around town.

Several months later, life changed as blood oozed from his mouth, and he fell to the ground. He was taken to the hospital, as zombie-pale as one of Scrooge's ghosts.

The albatross had landed on his shoulders and it clung tightly to his neck, a hallucination that sucks the life out of the victim, and all who mentally march in the parade of mental illness, seeking an exit to recovery, or death.

The Court committed him to the State Hospital for the Mentally Ill, a place, a person, a stigma like leprosy, but different.
After several months, in the hospital he died a painful death as blood uncontrollably gushed out of his mouth--esophageal varices, a result of cirrhosis of the liver.
He was 51 I was twenty-five. I knew my Father, but I did not know him, but I loved him.

Over fifty years ago the "insane asylums were of ghostly architecture, staffed by people who treated the insane as subjects to scorn and punishment, no mood altering drugs were used to bring the patients to any acceptable social level. Physical violence against the insane was condoned in order to control the Devil. The caretakers of the Snake Pit controlled the patient's mind and actions.

Today, we have homeless people who are in need of mental health assistance. Many veterans suffer, who have had their minds scrambled while killing many people, young and old, as they looked into their eyes; they were the enemy then, now they are ghosts of people who visit the veterans in their dreams and ask, "Why did I have to die?"

Many deny it three times, when questioned if anyone in their family has a mental illness. We must take the leprosy out of mental illness.


Author Notes
How many geniuses do we scorn because they are different.
What pool of talent do we lose among the homeless?
Mental illness still carries the stigma of leprosy, no place to fit in, no cure, and no future. Many with mental illness can benefit from drugs and treatment but the public must help. Our homeless and our veterans are our challenge. We can help them. Some get in trouble-PTSD-and end up in prison.
Our prisons are now our mental hospitals, without proper medication protocols.
Prison has moved from rehabilitation to punishment.
More mental health screening and proper care can prevent many deaths. We need to educate the public about mental illness.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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