Transcript of 13th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Kester Langford, Tuesday, January 6, 1998 at 1:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Good afternoon, Kester.
Mr. Langford: Good afternoon, Doc.
Dr. Balis: How are you doing today?
Mr. Langford: Exhausted would be a start.
Dr. Balis: What kind of exhaustion?
Mr. Langford: I'm physically whipped and emotionally drained. But I've been getting a sense of purpose beyond being a mark maker. It's really quite refreshing and very surprising.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Mr. Langford: The best way to explain what I mean is by telling you what's been happening the past couple of weeks. That's what I usually do, don't I?
Dr. Balis: All right.
Mr. Langford: It's not so much what's been happening as what I've been doing. I found out after several conversations with Me that her aunt Maymilu was in the hospital with a stroke, and she was scared. Together we went to the hospital, talked to the doctors, and discussed her aunt's financial affairs. Me had already gotten doctors to write a letter stating that her aunt was presently incapacitated. That letter with the statutory power of attorney were accepted at her bank so Me could pay her aunt's mortgage and other bills.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Mr. Langford: We sat by the bedside of her aunt. For two days, she just slept. She would appear to wake up with her eyes barely open, mumble something, and then go back into her deep sleep. The neurologist said that her stroke was on her right side and that she would recover most of her speech and physical body movement. We were somewhat heartened, but it was several days before we began to see a dramatic improvement. I shared something that I had never experienced--being there for another person. That's really worth living and dying for. A mark is just a symbol of being present. But the experience and memory of caring for another person is a very complex set of thoughts and feelings, as well as personal doubts and fears. A sense of compassion has begun to swell up in me. Aunt Maymilu has a living will, and at 80 years of age she is full of life and compassion for children. But she has decided that if she were to die, that she doesn't want to be revived and kept alive by artificial means.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Please talk a bit more about people and marks...
Mr. Langford: Marks have something to do with mortality, with something about my life, with living and giving beyond my death. But it's more than that. It's about reflecting a historical moment in my life as a celebration. All this--the hospital, doctors, patients, and plans for "what if": if Auntie needs 24 hour care; if she only needs rehab for three weeks; if she needs to go into a Retirement Hotel; if something happens that is unexpected--have really shaken me to my core. I've spent most of the past two weeks in the hospital, between CVICU and the third floor. I've been watching an elderly woman go from looking comatose to being very animated, sitting up, walking, and going to the bathroom on her own. It's like a miracle. That woman has turned my life around, and I don't even think that she knows.
Dr. Balis: How has it turned your life around?
Mr. Langford: I imagine that it's like what happened to Chester with Jesus. A part of him just opened up to something that he hadn't considered. For me, it's a matter of perspective. I've been the focus of most of my life. Not that I haven't been a giving-type person, but creating my marks is a very solitary way of life. My recent involvement with Me's family has changed my perspective somewhat. More than somewhat. I can actually see myself spending time helping older people in some way.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Mr. Langford: Before, with very little deviation, when I thought of myself doing something, it had always revolved around mark making. Now, I'm actually seeing myself doing something else, like spending time with older people.
Dr. Balis: How does this new perspective feel?
Mr. Langford: It feels great. I'm savoring it; I don't want it to go away. I'm also in a state of shock because I never expected something like this to happen to me. I was really getting used to myself as a mark maker. Part of my exhaustion has come from my lack of sleep. But mostly, I think it's all of the mental and emotional changes that I've been experiencing recently.
Dr. Balis: You mentioned your brother Chester earlier. How are you two working out your differences?
Mr. Langford: I just told him that I couldn't meet him right now, but that I'm eager to continue a relationship with him whenever we can agree on a date and a time to get together.
Dr. Balis: How did that feel to be able to talk to him that way?
Mr. Langford: It was really amazing. My heart was beating out of my chest. I just told him what I had to say, and he accepted it. He seemed to accept me. I'm telling you, Doctor Balis, since I've been coming to therapy, my life has taken on a lot more excitement. I don't know if it's just coincidental or what, but it's very full.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. So it was difficult for you to talk to your brother...
Mr. Langford: It's always been that way. I've always been nervous when I talk to him. I think that it started out with excitement. When I was a kid, he always told me how I was the one who had to be responsible for my parents. And he yelled at me after he got done talking with our parents. I don't know. I'm no shrink. No offense, Doc.
Dr. Balis: No offense taken. What it means to you is what it means. Although you're still suffering and have old scars, you're healing in ways that I don't think can be measured in verbal terms.
Mr. Langford: Wow. I never thought that I would hear that from you. I appreciate your comment very much. I think that you have clearly summed up how I feel, and that's very special to me. I know that you sometimes think that I have given you idle compliments, but I assure you that I truly mean this.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Mr. Langford: It's amazing--I was given an unexpected week off from working at the gallery just as I needed it most, just when I needed the time to run errands for Me or stay with her and her aunt at the hospital. Something is happening with Jake and the gallery, but I don't know what it is. I think that it will be something unexpected. "Unexpected" seems to be what I should be expecting these days. I spent the week feeling useful and needed, and I didn't make one mark. One day, I did make a card for Maymilu. She liked it a lot, I could tell. She smiled from ear to ear as she took it out of the envelope.
Dr. Balis: What is so captivating about Maymilu?
Mr. Langford: "Captivating" is a great word choice. I don't know. Maybe it's her vitality. I didn't know her before, I just met her at the hospital. She was in a deep sleep for the first two days. And then she changed into a very animated women. Her personality breaks all of my stereotypes about Asian women. She is so openly friendly and appreciative. She gives me the courage to forge ahead just by who she is.
Dr. Balis: She sounds like a very interesting person. Did you meet any other members of Me's family at the hospital?
Mr. Langford: You couldn't actually say that I met her other friends and relatives. Me and I were kind of isolated. Me thought that it was because I wasn't Asian, but I really don't know why. Occasionally, other people arrived to see Auntie. But after they conferred with Me, Me and I usually left to do some errands--like banking and taking in Maymilu's mail. I spent a lot of time reading the Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. You expressed your interest in the Stock Market last time we spoke.
Mr. Langford: I've been studying and learning the terminology. And I've made some trades with good results. Now, I'm waiting for the results of some other investments that I've made. Chester sent me some money. I forgot to mention that. After conferring with Chester--he had some success in the Market--and the stock broker that I was talking to you about, I've invested the money in a combination of Mutual Funds and Blue Chip stocks.
Dr. Balis: You're taking a conservative approach to the Market.
Mr. Langford: I'm blown away that I have any interest in this at all. It seems as if there's a connection between learning more about myself and learning more about how the world works.
Dr. Balis: Do you think that you're making more connections now than you have in the past?
Mr. Langford: I'm sure of it. I've always felt like an open person, but my focus was very narrow and directed. Now, I feel less focused and more liberated. Do you get what I'm saying?
Dr. Balis: You have a more expanded view of your personal life and the life that surrounds you now.
Mr. Langford: You're really on the money this afternoon, Doc.
Dr. Balis: Sometimes the magic works.
Mr. Langford: You're loosening up, too.
Dr. Balis: Maybe both of us are.
Mr. Langford: Hmm. I think I'm out of steam, Doc.
Dr. Balis: That's fine, we're just about out of time. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about briefly before we conclude our session?
Mr. Langford: Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Dr. Balis: Happy holidays to you, too. I'll be taking a two week vacation starting next week. In case of emergency call the service. There will be a doctor on call. And in an emergency, you can always talk to me directly.
Mr. Langford: Have a good vacation, Doc. See you next time.
Dr. Balis: Great. Let's see, our next appointment will be Tuesday, January 27th at 1 pm, okay?
Mr. Langford: That's fine.
Dr. Balis: Great. Goodbye, Kester.
Mr. Langford: Goodbye, Doc.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Kester Langford's Transcripts Transcripts of Kester Langford's Communications
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