The P.S. to last week’s post “Happy Father’s Day”
Backup to this time last week….
I pulled into the driveway, got out of the car, and made my way to the door. My stepmom unlocks everything ushering me inside. She looks terrible—hunched over and in obvious pain—the effects of a urinary tract infection whose meds have not kicked in. I’ve known that pain!
Dad, who normally shuffles into the kitchen whenever guests arrive, stayed seated in the den, apparently oblivious to my arrival—oblivious my foot, he could see me form the couch! He continued reading the paper.
Gloria and I chat a bit but we both know why I’m there—one more attempt at putting, or trying to put, Dale’s “house” in order—-sorting over bills, finance issues, etc.—pushing him to get his act together —If he doesn’t get things together something is going to have to change. He can’t continue allowing the phone, the gas, the electricity, etc. to be cut off—only to suddenly remember as to why they were cut off, attempting to pay the bills, but first finding the bills, then having the tacking on of the additional fees of re-activation,….. again and again—-not to mention the taxes…
“Dad your taxes were due in April”
“I’m working on it”
“Dad, you’ve been working on it—it’s now July”
“Quit harassing me”
“Dad, I’m not harassing you”
“Yes you are, I can’t get this done with you hovering over me”
“Dad, how “bout I start paying the bills and handling the finances?”
“NO, absolutely not!”
He’s also taken to overpaying the bills. I know that his rationale is “if I overpay, it’ll fix this little problem for a while and everyone can just leave me alone.” Why don’t I just open the back door and throw all of his savings out to the wind….because at the rate he’s going—there will be no more savings to overpay with…..
I make my way into the den.
“Oh Hi, why are you here?”
“Dad you know why I’m here, were suppose to work in your office today.”
“Dad, would you like for me to show you the pictures from the vacation?”
“Dad, where’s your handkerchief?”
“Cause your nose is dripping everywhere”
Once I finish with the pictures, I ask if we can head on back to the “office” which is actually my old bedroom. Had I known then what was in store, for my once safe haven, I’d have had a priest come bless it as I need all the blessings available now!
“Dad, you ready?”
“No, I need to finish my Coke”
Finally we make our way down the hall to the back room with Gloria in hot pursuit.
“See that stack of papers on his desk, what is that?” Gloria states rather than questions.
Dad sits down at his computer to “boot it up”
“Dad, that computer is over 20 years old, don’t you think it’s time for a new one?!”
I begin shifting through the stacks of papers and envelopes. He places a check on things he’s paid. I pull those all out of the stack.
“What are you doing!” He warbles
“You’re messing everything up!”
“Dale, if you’d file the old things away…where are those files Julie put together back in the fall?”
Gloria and I rummage through boxes and find some of the files we put together back in the fall, files he’s not touched since.
“Dad, if we could clean out your filing cabinets of all the old things, putting all these new files in, you could stay more organized”
—all this while I’m making stacks upon stacks on the floor, attempting to sort out every piece of paper…doctor bills, doctor appointment notices, pharmacy bills, exterminating bills, the yard man’s bill, taxes, phone bills, water bills, pension statements, insurance, some things dating to last year, most things current.
“What are you doing, you’re making a mess, how do you expect me to do anything with you messing everything up?!”
“Dad, all I’m doing is sorting over here quietly, you’re suppose to be getting that computer up and running to figure out what needs paying…”
“Well I could if you’d stop harassing me”
“Dad, I’m not harassing you”
“Dale, all of this can be thrown away”
“No, I’m shredding that”
“Well you don’t have to shred the newspaper…”
Exasperated, Gloria leaves for the kitchen.
Dad gets up with the paper.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to go recycle this”
“Oh no you’re not, you sit back down at the computer, I’ll go”
I spend the next 20 minutes in the kitchen with Gloria—the continued thought of a cute little bungalow assisted living running through her mind. I tell her I’ll start coming back once a week if she thinks it will help motivate him. I sadly know he won’t look forward to my coming, but rather dread it–which I hate, so as to why I tapered off earlier… however I know the tough conversation is inevitable.
I go back to Dad who is simply staring at his screen saver of the swimming fish—mesmerized.
“Dad, what are you doing?”
“Waiting for the computer to boot up”
“Dad that’s been almost 30 minutes”
“Well if you’d leave me alone, I might get something done!”
I make my way back to the kitchen to ask Gloria a question.
Dad hears me coming back.
“Dad, have you been watching those swimming fish on the screen saver and not doing the bills?”
“No” with a small chuckle.
“Dad, yes you have, you minimized it, you’re just watching cartoon dolphins Dad!!, you’re suppose to be working”…..more chuckles
“No” chuckle “no I’m not”
I cry most of the way home.
I wish my uncle was still alive. He was my dad’s older brother. The one who was there when my mom died and dad suddenly decided to stop being a grown up. My uncle helped me when I would be at my wits end with dad during those dark days. I think he must have been more like my grandfather—business like, jovial, sports minded, outgoing. Dad is withdrawn, quiet, preferring to be taken care of verses taking care of others—like a dad’s suppose to do. I imagine being the baby of the family, my grandmother did just that, babied him.
My uncle was almost 90 when he died a couple of years ago. His mind sharp as a tack but his body simply giving out. I miss him for lots of reasons.
I call my cousin, my uncle’s second oldest son and the closet thing I have to an older brother. There is a planned intervention set for tomorrow morning. I’m to go back to dad’s making certain he’s on track but my cousin will meet me. My dad will listen to him more so than me. I don’t think he’ll tell Jimmy to stop “harassing” him.
Dad told me again last week he’d not discuss assisted living.
“Dad, Gloria is tired and doesn’t feel good”
“Don’t you think it’d be easier? You pay for yard service and you don’t even go outside. The roof is starting to leak, the termites on the porch, not to mention those stairs to the basement—ya’ll can’t keep going down to wash the clothes…”
“We have the maid, she helps”
“Dad, not enough……….”
“NO, I’m not leaving this house end of discussion”
“ Well I don’t know if it is Dad……”
I always thought he’d be there when my life fell apart. When that’s suppose to be, I’m not certain, but that I just always knew he’d be there. He would help me sort my messes. He’s always been the financial savvy one of the family—managing both of my grandmother’s estates…he should have been a banker and I think truly wishes he had been. But he has always been conservative—preferring to “sit on” something rather than taking chances and gambling…..organized where I was not so….
Funny how life is—I’m finding myself in a place I did not expect, not a place of comfort—please don’t think me not up to the task because I am—certainly so–it’s just that I’m not real happy about it—actually really quite sad about it all….but such is life………
…to be continued
the following quote by St. Bonaventure is taken from a lovely blog I follow…
by William Ockham.
I had commented on Mr. Ockham’s latest posting about today being St Bonaventure’s feast day—and how Bonaventure was the brains, while Francis the heart of the birth of the Franciscan movement…..Mr. Ockham responded that whereas Bonaventure was a “doctor” of the Church and an immense theologian—he was also a mystic—the following quote came to me, just after I finished my writing about Dad, with tomorrow’s impending visit weighing heavily on mind and heart….providing that wonderful calm before the storm–giving me pause—and allowing me the opportunity of knowing that even though I may be sad and fretful, it’s all going to be okay!!!
“We must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.
If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.
Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination.”
thank you William for reminding me………….
Julie, thank you so much for the kinds words. Although the ideas may have been partially my own the quote was courtesy of Creighton’s On-Line Ministries (http://tinyurl.com/o84cpof).
More importantly, thank you for sharing your story. I am fortunate that my parents are both still alive and in good physical and mental health but they are both in their 70s so it is only a matter of time. I admire the patience and loving care that you exhibit in your stories.
Keep up the great work!
Julie, I came here out of curiosity via William Ockham’s website and was rewarded with a very honest and sincere story of your challenge in helping your father. Both of my parents passed away within six months of each other when I was in my very early thirty’s. I was devastated at the time but have realized over the years that I was fortunate in that they were in good mental health when they passed. Blessings and prayers for you as you continue to minister to your father and stepmother.
Thank you Lynda–and please do come back to visit as not all my posts deal with Dad—just all kinds of life’s adventures—approached with humor, awe and wonder—again thank you for your kind words and powerful prayers–blessings–Julie
Hang in there friend. Thinking a hug in your direction. Go bake something.