the watcher

Today was a really beautiful day at the lake. June has been a bit of a disappointment this year in the Lakes Region. Many cool, overcast days, and the ones that were sunny weren’t very warm. The wind has been persistent as it has taken a hot sunny day and morphed it into sweatshirt weather. If I was a weekend-only resident I would be pretty discouraged, every weekend has been awful but one. I guess I’ve found one advantage to being an unemployed, quasi-homeless piece of shit. If a Tuesday is nice I can enjoy it.

Today I sat lakeside and stared at the magnificent view from our beach. Our housing community offers beach rights to a really nice spot on the lake and it is as close to a sacred spot as I have. I have been enjoying this view for almost 37 years. Previous to that I enjoyed the “Main Lake” section when we were seasonal campers from the time I was 6 years old.

The sun was out in full, there was barely a cloud in the sky. The breeze, true to form, cooled me off every time it gusted. I sat transfixed by the view as if it was new to me.  Light waves, the only remnant of the passing of the many boats entering and exiting the Marina to our right lightly slapped at the shore. I can never get enough of the boats. Big boats and small boats, expensive Cabin Cruisers to Kayaks to row boats with hand-operated motors went back and forth, full of happy passengers. Most of the boats, as well as the elegant houses that lined the evergreen shores as far as the eye can see proudly waved American Flags. I almost felt out of place, for if one didn’t know better it would be easy to assume that this is a place only for those of affluence. Yet here I am.

I look to the raft for the hundredth time to check on the girls. They haven’t moved. My precious 16-year-old daughter, let’s call her B, and her friend Alex, who is like a daughter to me also, haven’t moved. They might even be asleep. They don’t look cold. Good for them I think to myself as I put on my sweatshirt. Billy Mac, I scold myself, I know it’s not your fault, but what is wrong with you?

Fuck you, I’m cold.


I have decades of memories of fun times on this lake. I was outside all of the time, usually on or in the lake. I learned to swim on this lake. I learned to scuba dive. I learned to waterski, dropping that one ski and skiing slalom was one of the biggest moments of my life. When I was a teenager I brought my friends up here and we swam and water skied until we were told to get out.

When I became a Dad, I had my kids up here as often as possible. The memories of them as toddlers excitedly splashing in 6 inches of water as we held them, belly-laughing as only a toddler can with smiles as wide as the universe itself, dance in my mind. As they got older, the four of them played together in the water, threw each other off of the raft and begged to stay when I told them to come out. Of course, I was in there with them at that point and it was my wife making me wrap it up. It didn’t matter, we would then play frisbee, throw the baseball and have the time of our lives. The expressions on their sleeping faces in the car on the way home said it all. Of course, I was tired as well, I was active with them.

After a long hiatus, the kids began coming up here again last year. They are all grown, the oldest 3 have jobs and coming up is difficult to schedule. I get it, it was like that for me also at that age. Now that their mother and father are separated, they come up to see me. And we go to the beach whenever possible.

The difference is, I can no longer throw the ball or the frisbee for hours. I can no longer water ski. I barely go in the water because it needs to be 90 with no breeze for me to get wet and not shiver and quake after like a junkie in need of a fix. Despite the repeated calls of “Dad, come on in!” or “Dad, let’s play catch” or “Dad, let’s throw the frisbee” I find myself saying no. I just can’t.

I just fucking sit there.

The fatigue is just too much. And it’s getting worse.

The very idea of walking up the hill to get the truck. so that I may drive down again and load all of the gear is intimidating enough. I have distinct parameters on how much energy I can expend at one time. So. to their repeated inquiries for me to join them I find myself saying “No, I’ll just watch you for now” and then endure the disappointed faces. They know, they understand, they hate how it reminds them that their father is sick. What they don’t realize is that I don’t want to watch, I have to.

The “used-to’s” that this disease has made me embrace are harder to deal with than the symptoms.

14 thoughts on “the watcher”

  1. I too, grew up with summers at our family lake house. I was the boat driver for the skiers, tubers, … I was the only one that could knock them off. Then it was badminton, wiffleball, bonfires and board games. Now it kills me to ‘watch’. So I don’t! I get some snacks out, get the games out… take a nap and am ready for all when they come in! Just last summer I was healthy enough to drive the boat again, for a few runs. And I can take out the kayak or paddle boat. Sometimes me and the hubs just canoe… my point is, find what you can do. It’s miserable to watch. Damn, Billy! Wish I had some flash in the pan great idea but that’s all I got.~Kim

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh my…. no I was only sayin you do have things to contribute. And being there for your kids is number one! I literally continued to get worse after I got sick… there were years I was only awake for a few hours a day! Of course you are too ill now. Someday, I hope it turns around Bill, that’s what I meant to say. I know your struggling. Thinking of you.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. An unemployed, quasi homeless piece of shit? That’s harsh, my friend. You and Grace seem to be suffering from the same malady. Remember, every day above the dirt is a good one, regardless of how shitty you are feeling. At least you can still enjoy the view

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When I feel like this, I TRY to be grateful that I have those memories. I made things like that possible for my kids, as did you. So many people don’t even speak to their parents after they move out, yet your children WANT to spend time with you, You definitely did something right! Your health has forced you to stop doing several things that you enjoyed and were very good at, but it has also opened up new opportunities for you to find other things you excel at….for example…did I not just see 200 post?!?!?!? and how many followers?!?!? How many new friends have you made this year? Add that to the number of loyal ones you still have from the past….I am almost jealous. I say almost, because I know those feelings of not being able to do what you once did and it is frustrating to say the least, but here you are still being an inspiration!

    Liked by 3 people

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