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.
Tag Archives: dad
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.