February 26, 2018 22:00
I arrived at the airport and I’ve got a few hours before I leave for Chicago, then Washington DC then Columbia. It’s almost a 12-hour trip so I’m going to be kind of punchy when I get to Columbia. I’ll still have the drive to Sumter, but I’m not really sure when I’ll get there. If I know my mother, she’s going to want me to see my father right away, which is OK.
She probably did tell him I was going to show up, but he might not remember.
The trip to the airport was a mini-adventure. First, there was the drunk guy who wouldn’t stop talking to me at the bus stop. Then there was the guy on the bus who said his best friend had just died.
The airport has CNN on right now. It’s like being at work, with the news is more background noise that information. I’m trying to hold off on watching the shows I have on standby. I’ve got Black Lightning and two episodes each of DC Legends of Tomorrow and Star Wars Rebels. I have enough to keep me occupied, plus I have lots of music to listen to.
There are a couple of things I’m looking forward to. I know this is going to be a stressful trip, but I’m trying to focus on some things to keep my spirits up. I will see the airports in Chicago, DC and on the return trip, Philadelphia. On the return trip I will be on the smallest and largest aircraft I’ve been on. The thing that’s not really what I’m looking forward to, it’s more of a curiosity than a goal, is to see one of the places we get calls from at my job. I just want to see what one of the stores we get calls from looks like. Seriously, I’m curious as to what some of the people look like.
Wow it’s not even 2300 and I’m tired. I just got an alert on the laptop that I have 3 hours before my flight. I’m glad I brought my portable hotspot. For some reason I’m not getting into the airport Wi-Fi, so I’m getting onto mine to update.
I wasn’t going to bring the power brick on this trip but I’m glad I did. There is no way the stuff I have will last through the long travel and there’s no guarantee I can get to an outlet or charger to bring power up. I’m giving the phone and extra kick while I can. I will need some music before the day is over.
Finally figured out the free Wi-Fi. Of course, I had to watch some ads but I got in. It seems every time I travel there are slightly different ways to connect.
February 27, 2018 17:00
My father is very ill; a lot worse than I imagined. He’s strong but a lot more fragile than I remembered him. He has a multitude of conditions leaving him weak. Right now, he’s being shuttled between a convalescent home and the hospital. I don’t think he has full-blown dementia but he has issues. He thinks my mother is plotting to steal his money. He’s not remembering things he says hours ago and he gets angry when my mother doesn’t remember things as he thinks he says.
My mother tries to help, but she is frustrated. She’s trying to deal with my father’s paranoia, but it brings back memories of frustration they have had in the marriage. Both aren’t dealing well with many years of hidden issues; from my father because of the dementia and my mother because she wants to keep up with appearances.
I’ve been dealing with all this the best I can. It’s a conflict because I’m their son and I see both sides of this and I can see as an outsider how there need to be a compromise and doing what’s best for everyone involved, but this is my parents. I can’t distance myself from that.
I don’t think there is even a side to this issue. No one is wholly right or wrong. My father is sick, on his last days and he knows it. In a crazy sense I didn’t want to visit because I didn’t want to see my father this way. It was easy to imagine what my mother told me about his health and mental state were exaggerations. Now I know they aren’t.
I had dinner with my parents today and I didn’t recognize my father. I saw him when we were back at the convalescence hospital. It reminded me of the episode of Good Times when Michael brought back the old man to the house on New Years who died at the end of the episode. The description he gave of the nursing home, that reminded me of where my father is now.
He’s sitting around waiting to die and that makes me feel powerless. I see him wasting away, both in body and spirit, and there isn’t anything I can do about it.
February 28, 2018 19:00
I spent most of the day with my father in his convalescence area. It was a troubling time; worse than yesterday. I was watching a struggling man who was tired and gasping for breath. It wasn’t the person I remembered as my father, but in some ways I found hope.
My father told me he was happy that I was out there. A lot of what he said sounded like he was talking like it was the last time I was going to see him. He told me that he didn’t want me to worry about every little crisis he was going through. He was happy to see me and he didn’t want me to burden myself by being at his side all the time. I’m not really putting the words right. Essentially, he knows the next time I’m going to be out there was at his funeral. He was alright with that because he has the time to tell all he needs to tell me now.
There’s a part of me that gets what he was trying to say, but I also know the state his mind is in. Today, he was convinced that Mom had left some money out on his table and someone in the convalescence staff took it. I had to remind him he left the money at the house and I saw it on the counter. It took him a few moments to remember he did leave it at the house and he was relieved.
The thing my mother told me was he’s lashing out a lot at her because he doesn’t think she’s listening. In the course of the day, I can tell there is a lot of communication issues between the two that are causing the conflict. They have such a history of not speaking clearly to each other that they just aren’t being straight with one another. I found out after leaving my father that his brother died and my mom hasn’t told him yet. She’s worried how he would react.
The thing I cannot reconcile would be my father’s side of the family. I can only go by what my mother tells me, but I’m going to say this as nicely as possible; I don’t like them. Going by my experience with an uncle by marriage I met a few decades ago, who was a decent guy compared to the rest of the family, the way I saw how the uncle was treated at his funeral, and the numerous stories my mom has told about that side of the family, yeah, once my father dies there might be some words said.
I’m also going through my mother’s drama. She’s struggling going through this time and the best thing I can do is listen. I can’t give advice, can’t really offer assistance because she is really guarded about her emotions. That’s just how she is and it’s the same way I am. The help I’ve offered has been pretty minor stuff, but that’s the advice she wants right now.
For instance, she asked me advice yesterday about if I wanted to go to the house or take care of some business with the lawyer. At first, I said it didn’t matter then I said I could go to the lawyer first then back home. Because my dad said she should drop him off and go to the lawyer, she went into a state I’ve always see her go into. She gave some excuse then said we should go home first because I was tired. I never said I was tired, actually said I was OK, but ended up going home and she had me up another 3 hours. I’m not complaining about it. I just know right now I’m just going to accommodate things. It’s not worth stressing it.
March 1, 2018 19:00
We went to my parent’s lawyer today. This lawyer reminded me of a young Matlock. He was folksy, jovial and seemed like a decent person. He’s close to 60 years old. I did what I have to do a lot of times; I stayed quiet and observed. My mother told me he was a talkative person, but she was the one who was taking her time and talking a lot.
The thing I have to say about the lawyer was that he listened. My mother has a tendency to talk at people, where every word is to be taken as a life lesson. The lawyer was actually interested in what I was observing and how it was affecting me. I started to get a sense of how bad my father is doing, not just physically but financially. I got a sense of his financial issues a few days ago with the money. One of the things my father used to say is that Uncle Sam will take care of him. That’s true, to a degree, but he never made plans to take care of himself. So, his finances are a mess.
I learned more about his thinking when we picked dad from the facility to bring him home for a few hours. It was another fight between my parents. The big issue always with them is they cannot let go of issues. They will bring up things from decades ago, needling each other with petty recriminations. Something my mother does is never fully explaining what she’s doing. We went to a department store, she got out and went inside. My father and I were in the car for 20 minutes. My father had wanted some seasoning packets from a Piggly Wiggly store across the street. My mom comes back and starts to go home. He asked about why she didn’t stop at Piggly Wiggly and the fight began. She accused the family, his family, of something from who knows when. He said he was treating her like a child and wasn’t listening him and it went on and on.
So we get to the house, she gets out of the car and I’m waiting for mom to get the garage door open and I can get my father’s walker and help him inside. Oh, I forgot to talk about the walker incident, which will also illustrate the lack of communication.
My father wanted to take a walker from the facility to use at the house and then take it back. My mother insisted on taking the walker back. That got them into a fight. We didn’t know this but there was a walker already in the trunk of the car. Instead of just saying there was a walker already in the car, saving a lot of confusion and hassling, she didn’t say anything. That’s when I found out she wanted me to drive to the store for the seasoning packets.
As we drove to the store and back I got more insight to my father’s way of thinking. Earlier, I had learned how my father had an abusive father. This was from my mother. It was a classic textbook, crime show abusive father model. My father has the classic deflecting, not as bad as it seems mentality. My father says that his mother stuck with his father and they had a good marriage because they stayed together. In my grandparents’ time, death unto you part was a big deal. I guess with my parents it the same way. They fight, they struggle and both talk about with them investing 50+ years into the marriage they’re not going to throw that away, even if both are constantly fighting.
Once we got back to the house, more arguing. I made dinner and that seemed to be the only thing they agreed about that the food was good. After dinner we took dad back to the facility and more arguing.
March 2, 2018 21:00
It was a relatively quiet day today because we didn’t visit my father. I helped a few odds and ends around the house. I took a few pictures of some of my mother’s items for insurance and dividing up “on her demise.” (Her words, not mine. She said that a lot this week) All day she was making sure if I knew where certain accounts were kept, codes to the house and other things. With the places we visited, everyone had on the Billy Graham memorial on TV. This gives a sense of the part of the country I was in. It was God and country, in that order.
I met one of the relatives that has been seeing my father and whom my mother talks highly of. It’s my mother’s nephew. I never met the person, well, I don’t remember meeting him but he said he met be a couple of times. He seems OK.
Not much to talk about today, because without my parents bickering, there was little drama today. That’s a good thing and sad thing. It makes me think of what things are going to be like when my father’s gone. That’s somewhere I don’t want to go at the moment.
March 3, 2018 10:30
Since yesterday, I have been dealing with flight changes due to the weather in the NE. Looks like I’m getting home, but may be pushing it to get back. This has been a rough trip, dealing with my father, mother, family and lawyers. I just want to get home, pet the cat and chill out with Law and Order SVU while playing a little Star Citizen. That’s the best I can cope with right now.
I’ve had to make a number of decisions I didn’t think I would have made a few years ago, even a few days ago. There were a few long term plans I had to think about and I’m not incredibly happy about them, but in making long term decisions the ones I made make sense.
Something that works with my situation is I can make choices, good or bad, somewhat immediately. No consulting with a spouse or children. While I wish my job was more stable it allows me, if need be, to back up and go. Seeing my parents these past few days has made me understand that the being the way I am has valuable advantages.
UPDATE: At the moment its 1330. The short answer as to where the time has gone is I’ve missed one connecting flight due to internet connection and an overwhelmed ticketing system. With any luck, I have my seat booked and set, the new flight will arrive in 90 minutes and I’ll be in Phoenix before 1900. Considering my original ticket, before the musical bookings, was set for me to arrive at 1930, I’m OK with that.
I will say this; the situation with my father is starting to hit me. I had to put my headphones on during the first leg of the flight, and every song had me on the verge of tears.