Yesterday I was visiting my wife at her house when she got a call from Dwight Norwood. He said he worked for St. Luke's Home Eldercare Services and wondered how I was doing. Susie handed the phone to me. I laughed uproariously when he said he'd received an anonymous call from someone concerned about me. This officious intermeddler felt I was "rubbing enough people the wrong way and I might get hurt by one of them." Dwight would not identify the caller.
After 10 minutes of discussion, Dwight told me he was surprised I was so articulate. He fully expected, from the concerned caller, that I would sound old and incoherent. "You're anything but that. In fact, you're one of the most articulate people I've ever talked with," he told me. I said I wanted to meet with him. Did he have time right now? "No, but I can see you at my office at 760 Saybrook Road in Middletown at 2 p.m. Does that work?" I agreed and hung up. I told Susie how funny this development was and I knew it would furnish great material for a blog post on my blog. I LOVE situations like this.
At 2 p.m. I met Dwight. He's about 5'8" tall, short gray hair, a pink skin color, and appeared to be missing his upper right incisor. He's 65 years old. He wears steel gray rectangular-shaped glasses. He was wearing a pink dress shirt, casual pants, and white sneakers. I noticed right away that his knuckles are enlarged, as if he cracks them frequently. I later found out that he became a clinical social worker about 10 years ago because he developed a form of severe arthritis in his fingers which prevented him from continuing his formerly lucrative career as a computer worker who needed to be able to type at his keyboard for 8 hours a day. Hence the enlarged knuckles I noticed when we shook hands upon my entering his office.
I again asked him who called me and he didn't know. The caller didn't identify him or herself. But Dwight again said he was surprise I was as physically-fit and articulate as I am since most of these sorts of calls concern elderly people who are physically frail but don't realize it.
I then spent the next hour telling him about myself. My legal career. Family life. Depression which led me to radically change the entire course of my life. My psychological history. My current activities.
Then I invited him to tell me about himself. He did. His computer industry career. Family. The arthritis of his hands which disabled him from working for two years, at a career in which he made a lot of money, as I did when I was a lawyer, and enabled him to buy a very expensive home for his family, his wife and four children. His decision to go back to school to become a social worker and therapist. His involvement with the St. Luke's Home Eldercare Services program, for which he is the executive director.
I showed Dwight the photographs of my dancing in all the dance clubs. The women and men who pose with me for the photographs which appear mostly on my Facebook page. Dwight was impressed with my mention of Ludwig Wittengenstein, the philosopher of language, in connection with Dwight's experience of working in therapy with some Spanish-language and culture clients for whom communicating with the dead is a non-psychotic activity. I told Dwight of reading I'd done in a philosophy journal and a book about the friendship and student-teacher relationship between Wittgenstein and his philosophy student at Cambridge, Alan Drury. Drury loved philosophy but went on, with Wittgenstein's encouragement and financial support, to become a psychiatrist in England. When Drury was Wittgenstein's student, one of their shared philosophical interests was the philosophical and psychological status of religious language. They both agreed that if the user of religious language, for example, statements and claims by a speaker that he was able to communicate with the dead, is part of a community of people for whom such talk is meaningful, then the reports of such communications should not be considered psychotic or otherwise abnormal. This was essentially what Dwight thought about his therapy client who talked about being able to talk to his dead mother. Dwight told me that he hadn't heard mention of Wittgenstein since his undergraduate days in college.
In the end, Dwight agreed that I was in no way of any need for his or anyone else's help. I assured him that I am fully aware of the risk I take by performing, speaking, and writing in such a way that some people choose to feel provoked or angry by what I do, say, or write. "I take full responsibility for my actions. And if God, the gods, or Mother Nature wants to let some angry person choose to hurt me in some way, I'm a grown man and can accept such a fate without behaving like a crybaby about it. I'm not hoping someone hurts me but I will accept such a fate if that is my destiny. As I told Dwight, I've lived 62 years. I've avoided major problems during that long life-span. I am old enough to take care of myself and face whatever music is stirred in other people by what I do, say, and write.
I would love it if whoever made this call to Dwight Norwood would contact me so we can talk about his or her motivations. My cell phone number is 860-759-9860. Although I get professional courtesy from sharks and pit bulls, I don't bite.
Dwight did tell me that if I learn of any older people who may be in need of supportive services to continue living independently, I should give him a ring. In case any of you know of such people, Dwight can be reached at his office at 860-347-5661, toll free 855-ASK-GATE. He said that Connecticut is the first state in the United States to have a program like the one he runs, which covers the entire state.