Tag Archives: dad

a day without dad

this is the first thanksgiving without my father. i thought of him throughout the night. thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays because “family dinners” always ended up rather dismal. dad would usually be drinking and wishing he were elsewhere; mom would be stressed putting on a big meal, knowing that at some point dad would turn nasty, finding an excuse to storm out of the house to go hang at the bar.

later, after mom died, thanksgiving was a battle of who’s house to eat at and the inevitable pressure put on us from the family contingent that was not being graced with our obligatory presence. a particularly annoying case of family push-me-pull-me nonsense.

i tried having thanksgiving at my house one year, but there’s something wrong with vegetarians cooking turkey and the universe cursed us for the effort. see http://thereallinda.livejournal.com/2004/11/27/ for that particular misery.

but…
last night was very nice. my son, jess and his girlfriend came, brni’s parents, marnie’s dad and a few family friends came with assorted wines and musical instruments. after dinner we all played music and sang silly songs.

last year dad was with us and had a very happy time.
i sent him a song for the day.


goodbye

so, my dad died this morning. i didn’t expect it. even though he was frail. even though he suffered from a sad heart and a confused mind, i didn’t expect it.

but i am relieved because the dread of lingering in a state of dementia is something i didn’t want to see him go through. he’d not been happy or content in this state. for years he was able to fool the world because he was so smart. but i knew. and so did he.

he had a quick and apparently quiet heart attack. i don’t think there was time to suffer. i don’t think he had the acuity to even know what hit him.

i said goodbye at the funeral home. they were kind enough to cover him in quilted white satin as he lay on the gurney waiting for transportation to the crematorium. i didn’t know i wanted to see him until this afternoon. i realized that i needed to say goodbye. i needed to finish this.

so i looked him over, setting his last image in my mind. the change in color, texture and temperature. i laid my hand on his forehead and felt his cold.

i said goodbye to my dad.

i wonder when the tears will come…


dad, ad nauseum

So, I girded my loins (do women have loins?), and headed on over to the home to try and find Dad’s missing clothes. As I approached the nurses station, I saw Dad heading over from the opposite direction. He had a slip of paper in his hand and said, “I’m glad you’re here. I don’t have any money and I need to pay for my lunch.” I told him the bill was taken care of but he said, “Well, I don’t know if that’s true.”

ah the love and faith and shit.

anyway…

The nurse took the slip and said the bill was taken care of, so we could sit down and visit. In the meantime, I asked the nurse to get hold of the laundry so I could try to find Dad’s missing clothes. So when the PT guy came for Dad, Dante, the housekeeping director escorted me down to the laundry, but none of his clothes were there. So we filled out forms and made lists of missing items and then his nurse said, “What about the clothes in his closet?” I said, “What clothes in what closet?”

Apparently, Dad has a closet with a dirty laundry bag in it that the aides kept stuffing his clothes in, on top of another man’s soiled (and I do mean soiled) clothes (I guess he died). The laundry was never told to start picking up Dad’s clothes, so I had to sort through Dad’s filthy things and some dead guy’s shitty things so that I could give Dante Dad’s things to wash and the nurse could dispose of the dead guy’s things.

i mean ugh…just fuckin’ ugh

As I was leaving, I found myself muttering, “I won’t ever go back. This is the last time. I won’t ever go back.” Of course, I will go back…but I sure don’t want to.

Anybody out there know when this stuff starts getting easier?


bad dad day

My sister and I went to visit Dad in the home today. It would have been better if we’d stayed far away.

Going to see Dad is a chore at best, nauseating at worst. Today, since Lori didn’t have a way of getting down to my house, I had to go to Thorndale to pick her up, which is 20 miles in the opposite direction from Dad’s nursing home, which is 20 miles from my house, so I basically traveled 60 miles both ways.

When we got there, Dad was nowhere to be found. Everyone said, “I saw him in the day room”…”I saw him in the dining room,” etc. Finally, after combing the rather small home, a nurse’s aid found that he’d gone to bed…in the wrong room. Poor Bruce. I hope he didn’t mind.

Dad was having a bad day. He was mean. He was surly. He had a nasty scowl on his face and was literally arguing and yelling at everyone no matter what they said or did. He was absolutely awful.

Yes, the Dad I remember from my youth….just plain mean. The difference now though is that he’s not being mean because of the booze, he’s being mean because he’s fragile and scared and he has no idea what’s happening to him.

We went out on the patio because he wanted a cigarette. He bitched at Lori and me the whole time, for what, I don’t know. I guess we just looked wrong. Finally, he wanted to get out of the chair and into the wheelchair so that we could wheel him back to his room. He demanded our help, but refused to let us actually do anything. Halfway through the procedure, he forgot why he was moving and put his legs up on the wheelchair as if it was a foot stool, when he’d just gotten them off of it so he could try to get out of the chair he was sitting in. It went on and on and ended with him screaming at the nurse’s aid because she finally gave up and just picked him up out of the chair and plunked him down on the wheel chair.

I bow to her patience. She never once smacked him upside the head, though he deserved it.

Lori and I finally just left as the nurse was getting him into his bed. I don’t even want to go into the nastiness Dad was exhibiting towards his roommate and his sister, demanding that the roommate (a parapalegic) move his bed out of the way and give him his wastebasket to boot. I have no clue as to what the basket thing was about, but Dad wanted it.

I looked at Lori and said, “Let’s get out of here.” She didn’t need convincing.

I swear, if I have any friends at all, you will go out and stockpile some nice, undetectable but deadly drugs and save them for me. If I start going the way of my dad, please, give them to Brni to put me out of his misery. And if he can’t or won’t, sneak them into my jello when he’s not looking.

thank you.


there is nothing noble

about living in filth.

That is how my father lived…in filth. He is one of those people who creates filth just by existing. I’m not talking about being messy. I’m not even talking about clutter, though there was plenty of that. I’m talking disgusting, nauseating, disease-ridden filth. There is no creature on earth that chooses to live in filth except human creatures, and those who do are aberrant.

I remember when I was young, I hated being near Dad’s side of my parent’s bedroom. His side was always cluttered and his night stand and dresser dusted with a fine coating of dander. Now, my mom was a cleaning fanatic. The woman never stopped cleaning, even though she worked outside the home until she retired. We lived in a house full of smokers but you never smelled smoke when you walked in the house. Ashtrays were washed several times a day. She scrubbed down the bathroom after her shower every morning and dusted and vacuumed at least once a day. You would be hard-pressed to find a cobweb in the attic or a dust-bunny in the basement let alone in the rooms we lived in. When I lived at home, she had my bed made before I got out of my morning shower. It drove me nuts. I thought she was insane. I mean, I’d be smoking a cigarette and turn to put it out to find the ashtray had been washed, dried and put back between puffs.

But, I now understand what she was battling. She was battling the unholy cesspool that is my father. I tried to keep after him but when my bad back sent me to surgery in March of 2007, I stopped cleaning my Dad’s apartment. The amount of pure, nicotine-laden filth that he managed to put down over every surface in his small, one bedroom abode is staggering.

Today, Brni, Gordon and I spent the day loading up a U-Haul of salvageable furniture from his place for distribution between my sons, my sister and us. It took me 3 hours to clean one lamp table and my poor cedar chest which I’d lent the old man. There was so much dirt and nicotine on everything that it took many scrubbings to (almost) remove all the black, gummy residue. After I was done, I felt so toxic I had to scrub myself down…but I could still smell the disease. I finally realized I had to wash out my sinuses with salt water to breath freely again.

I am beside myself knowing that tomorrow I have to go over to his place again to meet the 1-800-GOTJUNK guys to take away the stuff that we couldn’t salvage. Everything that was upholstered is unfit for man or beast. I feel guilty thinking of the pollution its disposal will cause, but I have no choice since the township won’t let me burn it. Then, after the apartment is empty, I have to clean it.

I may never get over this.


hauling day

so, today we are renting a u-haul to move out the decent furniture to give to jesse, lori and michael. tomorrow the 1-800-GOT JUNK people will come and take away the stuff that can’t be salvaged.
then i clean as best as i can (no way to remove the dripping nicotine from the walls).
then i wait for the landlord to sue me for a years worth of rent.
sigh

but, it’s almost over.


toxic clean-up day

my mood is swinging all over the place. i’m calm one minute and frantic the next. can’t get dad’s crisis out of my head. the fact that i have to go through cleaning up after him and dumping his toxic waste of a life *again* has me very angry. and of course, there’s nothing i can do with that except work through it. it would help if i could sleep. bleh.

today brni and i will head on over to dad’s MRSA-infested apartment and start the process of bagging up all the trash and sorting through the stuff that needs to be dealt with. we have to figure out how to dispose of all the upholstered stuff since it is beyond the point where it can be cleaned. that’s 2 recliners, 1 old chair, mattress, box spring, and of course all bedding, clothing and curtains. nothing can be saved. the wooden furniture can be cleaned up. hopefully someone will want it but anything the kids and my sister don’t want will be thrown out.

i’ll be taking the camera to document this…just in case i need proof that he is incapable of taking care of himself. i can’t take anything for granted with this.

and later i get to tell the landlord that i need to break the lease and hope that i don’t need a lawyer.


glimpses

glimpses of dad that occurred in the ER and later in the hospital. more like a series of visual shocks that assaulted me. i’m still trying to sort it all out, but these are the first ones i was able to purge from my brain wednesday night.

glimpses of dad


dad

an hour or so before they transferred him to the nursing home. he was dozing.

Dad in Hospital, May 2008


yesterday

so, yesterday was my birthday…with a full moon and lunar eclipse

My “good birthday deed” was spending the afternoon with my dad. First to the doctor to find out the results from the CT scan of his head. Turns out he’s been having a lot of little strokes–TIAs–affecting the frontal lobes. So, not Alzheimer’s but just as devastating, especially since this is exactly what happened to his mother. She had lots of TIAs over the years causing her to slowly lose herself.

The doctor’s diagnosis didn’t seem to affect Dad at all. It just didn’t register on his diminished radar, but when the doctor said I should stop him from ever driving again he grew quite agitated, “Don’t do this to me, don’t do this to me…” The doctor kept at it, telling him logically why he must not drive (and why he should quit smoking–another upsetting subject for him) and not noticing the effect he was having on Dad. sheesh! So, I interrupted and said, “Don’t worry, Dad. It’s just that the car is broken and until we can get it fixed I’ll have to take you where you want to go.” That quieted him down and I turned to the doctor and said, “Drop it, he’s getting too upset.”

talk about out of touch…argh

After we left the doctor’s office, we stopped at a barber shop for a very overdue haircut. Dad just talked and talked while the barber quietly worked. He talks constantly, my dad, like a 2 year old who’s just learned how to string together all the words he knows. It never stops. Finally, when the barber started on his eyebrows, ears and beard, Dad quieted down. It was touching to see how gentle and caring this stranger with scissors was with my dad.

By the time Dad was neatened up and presentable, it was 2:30 and he hadn’t had a thing to eat all day, so we stopped at a local delicatessen for some food. It’s hard to take Dad out in public because he doesn’t behave appropriately anymore, plus his table manners are not what they used to be. By the time he finished his soup and sandwich, he’d removed his teeth, stuffed torn and twisted napkins up his nostrils and left the rest in a pile of shredded bits.

ah, i wish i had the patience of that barber, but he doesn’t have to eat across from the man

I dropped him off at his apartment 4 hours after the ordeal began and made my way home, whereupon I found that brni had bought me season 3 of Lost and a dvd of “Smart Television,” a PBS special about the Jack Parr Show. I used to like watching his show when I was little…yes, I’m THAT old.

And then the moon played hide and seek for my birthday and i learned how to use a tripod (pictures to follow later today).

thanks to everyone who wished me well. your wishes were granted (despite my dad’s diagnosis)


let me be

he won’t stop calling. i refused to answer his calls after my pain came back. i just couldn’t deal with the weight of him.

so, he calls, leaves manipulative messages in increasingly pitiful tones complete with cracking voice, “It’s dad. Call me. I just want to hear your voice. I love you.” and when i don’t call back, he starts calling my sister and telling her i must be dead or something.

sheesh.

One of my first memories of my father was when I was around three years old.

My mother was a beautician and she took particular pride in my long, blonde hair. It was probably close to the middle of my little back by the time I was three. My mother would do up my very straight hair in pin curls to give it a nice, tight wave, which was the style in the early 50s.

Anyway, I had decided that I wanted bangs. I have no recollection of why I wanted bangs, but this was of great importance to my little self. I asked Mom to cut my hair, but she told me that I had to ask my father’s permission. This made the necessity of bangs ever so much more serious.

I remember Mom walking me from the kitchen to the living room. Dad sat on the couch to my right and Mom, quietly on my left. I was a painfully shy child. The simple act of speaking was excruciating. Asking for something I deeply wanted, deadly. But I wanted this badly, so I mustered the courage and asked my father if I could have my hair cut in bangs.

Dad said no. I pleaded. He said no again. There may have been a spark of three year old defiance in my tone, I’m not sure, but he went on to say, “Do what you want, but if you cut your hair, you will no longer be my daughter.”

Whoa! If I cut my hair, I no longer have a father? So, my place in the world, my worth as a person, my very self hinges on the length of my hair? What does that make me? What am I? Even a three year old can figure that one.

I am nothing.

so, tell me old man, how much do you really love me? and tell me, why should i care?

i just want to be left alone. i just want to heal.


my father, my spine

There’s always been a theory floating around in my head that my back pain was caused by my father. That my difficult relationship with him settled in my back and no matter what I did or tried to do, my pain would never leave as long as my father had a grip on my spine.

Well, two days ago, my father decided to create another one of his dramatic crises that sucked me into a whirl of worry and dread. And in the wee hours of this morning, after horrible dreams of my father imprisoning me and threatening me with a gun, and my attempts to flee, and enlisting help from others, and trying to board a plane for alaska or outer space, and the bastard hunting me down — the old pain has returned to my left leg.

I am attempting to rationalize this. I am hoping this is pressure from some other thing, not my spine. I am hoping it’s muscle pain, not nerve pain and that I will successfully walk it off.


not that i’m complaining, but…

it’s hard to be homebound. it’s exhausting to do nothing.

patience…yes, i get that the universe is teaching me this important lesson, but sheesh! why can’t i learn it in 3 weeks instead of 6? and at the end of the 6 weeks? nobody has told me what happens then. do i really get out of this brace? will i be able to drive? bend over? shower without help?

ok…granted i’m bored. the better i feel the more boring doing nothing is. but did my dad really have to take this opportunity to fabricate a crisis? for those of you who don’t know, my father is a demented, dirty old man. but even when he had all his marbles, he was a selfish, self-absorbed, procrastinating binge drinker with a propensity to lie and gamble. he never saved a dime and stole every penny i ever made (from the time i was 12) until i left home. then, he stole all the E bonds my mom saved for my son’s education. cashed them in and bragged about it.

so, how did i get stuck being responsible for his well-being? just stupid, i guess. he also managed to get me financially strapped by getting me to cosign his lease. and now, he’s running the risk of getting himself kicked out because he started picking a fight with one of the owners. he’s not only senile, he’s belligerent about it.

and here i am….stuck in the house…can’t even get in the car and go find out what’s going on. well, i guess he’s on his own with this one. not a damn thing i can do about it and if he does get kicked out, well, that’s on him. no way can i let him stay with us. we have a tiny, little house with only one bathroom and he can’t do stairs easily. plus he chain smokes stinky mentholated cigarettes and doesn’t bathe regularly. and he never shuts up. talk talk talk, mostly about his bowels. ugh.

so, it’s a bitch being homebound.

but then again, maybe it’s a blessing.


drawing lessons

I used to be a watcher when I was little. I was very intent about it and almost never smiled. I earned the name, “the old woman” because of it. I could be very still, watching what the larger people in my life did, not really understanding, just taking it all in. When I was outside, I watched the animals and plants as well. Especially the birds. I tried to will them to come to me. I begged them without words, just yearning, but they stayed in the trees. I began climbing trees to get to them, but they took to the sky.

I had one tree I especially liked. It lived in our front yard, set down the hill a bit, away from the house. I knew this tree as well as I knew my own room. I could climb it and perch way up, where the branches swayed with what little weight I had to offer. It was peaceful up there and I was safe from the looks and questions and demands my parents and the others had for me. I was safely content to be up in a tree rather than down there, with the other children, where I always felt I had to defend myself from their prying eyes and loud mouths.

I wouldn’t call my internal world a happy one. No, it was more a feeling one full of sighs and wishes. Looking, watching, examining, figuring things out, longing to be part of the world of feathers, fur, branches and bark. The external world, the world of people pulling and pushing, harshly proclaiming their displeasure at my reluctance to talk to them was simply too loud for me to handle. There was no respect for the boundaries of my world. They just burst into my space anytime they felt like it, even when they could see that it caused a great deal of distress and pain.

All I wanted to do really, was draw everything I saw. So I peered at everything and recorded what I saw on paper. I had to, there was no choice in the matter. It was what I was. It was why I was. And they even used that against me as punishment for being quiet.

My father hated the way I did everything. He even hated the way I ate my food. “Don’t just eat all the peas at once. Take a bite of the peas…now take a bite of the potatoes…now eat some of the meat,” he would bully me as we sat at the table. Every meal was a misery. If I didn’t like the look of a thing, he made me taste it anyway. If I didn’t like what I tasted, I was a fool or a liar or some other name that would send him into a tirade, pushing away from the table with disgust to go sulk in the living room, or possibly out the door to the nearest bar.

So, when I had done some thing, a thing I can’t even remember, but a thing so absolutely awful that only a quiet child of 5 could do, he took away my pencils and my pads of paper. He told me I couldn’t draw for 2 weeks. I drew too much anyway, and I drew all the wrong things the wrong way. So he took the thing I truly needed to survive in the world away.

It hurt. Oh, how my hands hurt! There was nothing I could do to ease the pain — I still remember looking at my hands, holding them close to my belly, trying to ease the tension, the ache of not drawing. Crying in my room, begging my mother as she stood on the other side of the door, “Please, please, I have to draw. My hands hurt.” I think she understood because she smuggled a pad of paper and a pencil to me, through the crack of the door, telling me not to let Dad know. Later, I heard them yelling. Mom telling him how wrong he was, he telling her terrible things about all of us. The fighting went on, building in intensity and cruelty as it always did, until finally, Dad slammed out the door and Mom retreated to the kitchen to cry at the table.

I stayed in my room, listening and drawing, waiting for the sun to come up so I could climb into my tree.


dad’s new car

About six months ago, I finally convinced Dad that he had to get rid of his car. It was so utterly broken that it was not worth fixing. It had rusty holes all over, no paint left on the roof, the hood was bent and refused to close, plus the battery was dead because Dad couldn’t remember how to turn his headlights off one night, draining the life out of it. I called a nice man who towed junkers for free and resolved to take my dad grocery shopping, and other necessary errands once a week.

Of course, this didn’t work out as planned as my father is a impatient, manipulative, conveniently senile old man with a lazy streak that defies measurement. We’d settle on a day and time for the running of his errands and he’d call and whine that he wasn’t feeling up to it. Then the next day he’d call and demand that I take him out immediately. This, as with everything associated with my father, has been a constant source of stress resulting in headache, nausea and bitter feelings on my part. I have no clue if Dad is affected by any of this in any way.

So a few months ago, he started demanding that I take him car shopping. I put it off using one excuse or another (I really don’t think he should be driving). Finally, I told him that I cannot take him car shopping because my back just won’t hold up and that if he really wanted to go car shopping he should call my sister and ask her. At first he refused, claiming that he’d ask someone over at the Wawa to take him. Yeah, right, Dad, people shopping at the convenience store really love it when dirty old men ask them for favors. You go for it!

I suppose that plan of action didn’t go well, because he eventually asked my sister and her husband to help him find a car. Of course he pulled his usual tricks on them canceling their scheduled dates and then calling and asking when they could take him to buy a car. He’s much nicer to my sister than he is to me, so he *asks* her where with me he demands.

(yes, the above has a bitter ring to it–i am ashamed)

anyway…

My sister starts lamenting that she wants to get him a car right away because she didn’t want this hanging over her head. I thought she was on board with the plan to take him out and discourage him with the high prices on used cars. Guess she couldn’t take the pressure. So last week she and Gordon find a cheap car that was in pretty good shape and call me about it.

So the next day, I pick Dad up and drive him to Lori’s house and then we all go to see the car. Not a bad deal — a 1989 Chevy Celebrity wagon for $1200. The car drives okay and is relatively clean. Dad likes it and buys it then and there. The guy who’s selling it says he’ll deliver it the next day when we’ll finish up the paperwork and transfer the tags. I promise to meet him at Dad’s the next morning.

So the next morning I get to Dad’s at the scheduled time and I wait and wait and 40 minutes later I finally call home. The seller left a message that his ride was lost and could I meet them at the K-Mart. So I go to the K-Mart, find the guy, they all follow me to Dad’s, we do the deed and I go home.

That night Dad calls and says, “My car isn’t in the parking lot.” I said, “Yes it is, Dad. You just don’t remember which car it is.” Now, I must tell you, I wrote down the year, make, model and color of the car so that Dad could look for the right car, but I guess that wasn’t enough. The next morning I go to the hardware store and buy those sticky, metallic letters that people put on their mailboxes and spelled out Dad’s first name on the front and back of the car. Now, no matter where he parks the car, he should be able to find it.

Unless he forgets what his name is.


dad is crazy

so dad called me tonight, he excitedly asked,”did you miss me?” and then proceeded to tell me about the 2 day camping trip he just got back from. there were 30 people there, camping and fishing in the high altitude hills of new jersey. he told me about the phone they had hooked up to a tree but the tree was blown down so he couldn’t call me. he told me about using safety pins as fishing hooks but they didn’t catch any fish. he told me that his toes were still cold from being out in the weather.
all this, despite the fact that i talked to him on the phone yesterday and was over his house the day before that apparently didn’t enter into his adventure.
what was that silly thing i wrote about time not being linear?
well, you can only take that so far. is this a test? there’s a certain amount of 3 dimensional reality that just doesn’t get shifted quite as far as he’s taking it.
i don’t really know what to do about all this. i can’t get him in to see a neurologist or get him a geriatric assessment until after the hollydaze. but maybe his daze will slow down a bit til then? one can only hope.

my father is crazy.


missing pieces

at 76 you are too young to be as mentally incapacitated as you are, but i guess that’s what happens when you live too hard for too long, abdicating to your wife and children responsibility of the day-to-day. and then your wife dies and your younger daughter gives up and gets a life. and you turn your back on me. and then you get sick and needy and turn around and thrust the duties of your life onto me without even asking. and first you won’t listen and then you can’t listen and now you don’t remember how.
and you fight and you lie and the lies insinuate themselves into your reality and you can’t tell the difference anymore, if you ever could.
and now, i have to pick up all these little pieces of your mind that you scattered about your carpet, but they are so tattered they don’t make a whole you anymore. and now, i have to make doctors tell you that your pieces are missing. and later, i have to make lawyers tell you that your pieces are lost. and we’ll take all the responsibilities, duties and all the stuff you left to others and put it in a little room in a sub-standard warehouse because you threw away everything you made and everything mom made for a shot of cheap whiskey and a game of liars poker.


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