My Dad once told me that “everything before the but is a lie”. Now, what did he mean? Let me give you a few examples:
I would love to help you move BUT I am busy this weekend.
I would like to go out with you on a date BUT I have to wash my hair.
I would volunteer BUT I have to work on each of those days.
Get the point? Well, let me officially start this blog with, “I don’t want to come off as an asshole but…”
Dealing with Dad’s health is a cross between a devastated bewilderment and a heart wrenching agony. I hold it in well though. Because that is what I do. I am that person in my family, always was. The ever present strong shoulder everyone else can lean on when times get tough. I am the “reassurance” that everything will be ok. Only now everything is not going to be ok. And I have allowed myself the realization that my Dad is not coming home and is now placed in a nursing home permanently. Unfortunately for me (and both of my kids), we sometimes feel as if we are the only ones that have reached this realization. Now, don’t get me wrong – I would LOVE for my Dad to recover and be his full self. And there are times when he is lucid and when he is not agitated (those times when my real Dad shines from behind those beautiful blue eyes) that I have a feeling of hope. So far, those glimmers of hope quickly fade as his clearer thoughts never last for more than a few hours.
Everyone wants my Dad to be ok, to be “on the mend”. I sometimes feel that if his mortality is in question that oftentimes it gives them pause to reflect on their own vulnerabilities and how many good years they might have left. I field a number of calls from Dad’s friends who all want to check in on him. They are wonderful people, some more like family than friends, constants in my life growing up. They call, ask: How is he? – Is getting better? – When will he be home? Those are the standard three. With my regular responses: Same – No – Unfortunately he won’t. They are well-intentioned, I know. They WANT the answers to be what we all want them to be. However, they do not realize the toll it takes on me, on the kids, to continually repeat to them every week that “No, my Dad is not coming home. He has brain damage. No there is no surgery that can correct it. He was without oxygen for too long.” They are all looking for a miracle that is not coming and it kills me to have to repeat it with the frequency that I do.
For his longtime friends who call on a regular basis, I have finally broken down and told each of them that he will not be coming home. This is permanent. And, for the most part, they have been wonderful. They still call and check. They say what a pity it is that he found himself in this condition. They give their love and hope for more good days than bad. But I have one or two (and the kids have one or two) that persist in putting us through the rigors of “when will he be home” even after the explanations have been made. They are holding out for the miracle. They want to force “hope” upon us. For me, it causes great guilt to feel as if someone is struggling with my “inability” to want more for Dad. I DO want more. And, if a miracle will happen I will be the first in line to dance the happy dance.
However, right now I am overwhelmed by taking care of his finances, insurances, writing debtors that they will never receive payments, sewing name tags into his clothing, preparing to put his property up for sale – all the while trying to live a life of certain normalcy and looking for a job, being a part of the kids’ lives as they venture on their own paths of adulthood and trying to just take a few moments to enjoy that I am still a newlywed. It is not an easy place that I find myself in – this bittersweet limbo. I balance between the demolishing ache in my heart that my Dad is no longer in control of his life and trying to enjoy what are supposed to be the best times my life will ever see (newlywed, building a house, starting my life with Bobby).
So, I am trying to not sound like an asshole, BUT…
Yes, we have hope even though we are weary and are trying to survive this horrible ordeal.
No, we do not need you to remind us there are miracles that happen.
Yes, we want you to keep calling, to keep sending cards, to keep coming to visit.
No, Dad is not coming home. And please quit inadvertently making us feel like shit for trying to explain this to you.
Yes, we will love you anyway but understand the pain you can sometimes cause me, the kids.
And I do truly love that so many people have reached out. I promise to try to not sound like a robot as I answer your questions. Understand you are probably not the first to ask these questions and have patience with me as I rattle of the answers with a certain lack of emotion in my voice.
Below is a great pic of Dad. We took him out for some fresh air and he was giving Alex some life advice. I am thinking about video taping some of our visits (the more lucid ones), so we can preserve what precious memories we have left.
Love you guys.