I wanted to post this here just to remember my feelings. They are not the feelings of butterflies and rainbows. They are the darker feelings, the ones that ripped me apart on a daily basis while others were content to meddle from a distance and disrupt. To those people I issue only this: fuck you.
I had written this right after Dad had surgery, while he was in Huntington Rehab and just before he was moved to Overbrook. He would eventually recover to an extent, once Ritalin was introduced to his medicinal lineup. We would have three miracle years where he returned home and struggled with managing his health. One of the people who should have known better whispered in his ear that he did not need Ritalin any longer. Because of his trust, of his stopping the medicine, he ended up having confusion that caused him to triple up on his fluid pill dosage. I could not reach him by phone for our daily call, I drove to his home, his neighbor called as I was getting closer and he was found in the floor. He could not get up because he could not remember how. After that his health deteriorated at a quicker pace.
Forgiveness is for the strong they say.
I still harbor resentment for the person who was a constant issue when they should have been his biggest ally.
I am content in my weakness.
My Dad’s blue eyes are amazingly clear as he stares at me with such intensity. “No, Chelle, seriously. They tried to throw me out of here last night. They thought I was drunk. You know I don’t drink or do recreational drugs.” I chuckle. Recreational drugs, a term I have never heard my Dad use. He speaks up to me from his bed at the nursing home. His confusion a little worse at this moment than on most days. He is desperately trying to convince me of the ill-nature of the people trying to throw him “out of that building over there” last night. The story is laced with various tidbits: they left him naked in a shower and never came back to get him, he thinks it was one of the properties owned by Tommy and Teresa, he just ordered a hamburger and was going back for another because it was good… Scattered details of a disjointed illusion.
If he watches something on TV, he carries it into reality. Dreams carry over too. In his world, Ma is still alive and will not call him because he has had an affair with his current friend. As he pleads with me about my Ma, crying and sometimes sobbing – those are the times that I find my lowest points of existence. My most heartbreaking moment in life was when I woke my Daddy to tell him that Ma had finally succumb to years of horrible health. He wailed a deep, guttural wail that tore through my heart in an instant and left a huge gaping scar that would never heal. In the two months since he has been in that nursing home, his brain has created illusions that have elicited that same heart wrenching wail on more than one occasion. We relive the lives of people who are long gone. “Remember to pick up milk for Grandma Ocie. She will need it for breakfast.” I reply, “Don’t worry, I will get it as soon as I leave here.” I go along with the fantasy of my Great Grandmother who died maybe 25 years ago.
No one knows my own strength as well as I do.
From some I get critical points of view – you should do this not that, have you tried this, sue the VA, something has to be done – to those I say, “When you step off of the sidelines and onto the playing field then maybe I will take your assessments to heart.” I find it condescending for people who visit one time every month (or longer) and who never call to check in and who appear to have other interests at heart – to offer anything more than words of encouragement. Until you argue with him that the nurses are not secretly stealing his stuff every night and putting it back in its place every morning, until you worry yourself to pieces because you are leaving to get married and fear something will happen in the four days you are gone, until you have a conversation about your Ma and why she will not call, until you visit every day without concern of emotions, feeling like shit, weather or distance – until then, opinions are like assholes. And I, personally, am depleted of my “give a shit” reserve. If you thought I was blunt before, I would appear unrecognizable now. I have no time for the stupidity of others. And to tell me that they are well-meaning smacks of ignorance of the situation. My mantra for “those” people – if you are not helping, get the fuck out of my way and quit creating issues.
Then there are those who are truly well-meaning. Dad’s older friends, faraway family members, people who only want the best. “When will he get out of there?” “How much longer until he gets better?” More than once I have had to re-explain that he will not get better, that this is where we are now. They are wonderful people who refuse to accept the fragility of Dad’s health.