Dad and the chickens

Q. What did the hen say when she saw the scrambled eggs……
A. My children are all mixed up!



Meet Dad’s neighbor.
And yes, dad does live smack dab in Atlanta.
Perhaps an odd place to find free roaming chickens but-
it seems urban gardening has become all the rage you know.

The neighborhood where I grew up is now considered a prime section of Atlanta in which to buy a house. It’s an older area that has maintained its quintessential suburban charm–despite the fact that the “charming” area is shrinking into an ever encroaching city.
It appears this is a prime spot to still raise a family–far enough out yet close enough in.

The young family next door tends to 4 little chickens which they keep in a pen in their back yard. I suppose Zoning hasn’t picked up on the hens’ presence in the neighborhood as the yards are rather large for city yards and are full of trees and shrubbery—no one is the wiser that the newest neighbors on the block have wings.

A chicken just seems fitting to include in a post about Dad.
You know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted about Dad. . .

Two day’s ago I had gone out to get the mail.
Shifting through the unsundries of needles periodicals, flyers, and bills I noticed a letter from an insurance company that is not our insurance company. . .but I did recognize the name—“this is Dad’s” I silently note now gritting my teeth. Upon opening the letter it seems that at some wise point, not long ago he, me, we added my name to the policy as a contact.
“We are mailing you this letter to inform you that the above mentioned client is past due on his premium payment and if it is not revived by 3/14 we will cancel the policy. . .”

I’m sure you heard a small earthquake two days ago and have been wondering ever since what that was all about.
No worries, it was just me screaming as I stood in the driveway reading this letter.

I immediately grabbed the phone as fast as I could as I practically fell into the house.
That oh so familiar warble answers.
“Uh hello daughter.”
“Hello Dad”
“I got a letter today from your long term care insurance company.”
“Seems you’ve not paid them in a while and they’re going to cancel the policy.
I want you to pay this thing now!”
“Uh,oh, uh, I, uh, oh, uh, let me call you back.”

About an hour passes before the phone rings.

“Yes Dad.”
“Uh I called the company, everything’s fine.
No problems. They say that the account is good, all paid up.
They don’t know why that letter came.
Don’t you worry it’s all good.
I did go ahead and pay them $1000 though.”
“I just wanted to make sure that things were fine.”
“Dad, if the account was fine and the letter erroneous, why are you sending them so much money?”
“Uh, uh, don’t you worry, everything is fine—got to go, the Olympics are on . . .”


Obviously it is time to get back to my weekly pilgrimage beginning today!!
I drive over to Atlanta this morning noting the downed pine trees littering the sides of the interstate–the tell tale signs of last week couple of week’s ice and snow storms. And I don’t remember all these pot holes littering the interstate.

I pull in to the ever familiar driveway.
As always I have to knock on the door and just hope one of them hears me.
Low n behold Dad shuffles to the door and proceeds unbolting lock after lock.
“Hello Daughter”
(when did he start calling me “daughter”?)
Hi Dad.
Where’s Gloria?
She’s cleaning out the cat box.
Bless Gloria, something as basic as cleaning and scooping is a major production for Gloria.

I ask Dad if we need to go back to “the office” (aka my old bedroom) and sort through anything.
A swift NO shoots my way.
I meander on back anyway.
“Oh my God Dad, what in the world?”
This as I stare at 3 massive stacks of scattered papers and mail perched around an antiquated Gateway computer.

“No no, get out, just leave all that!! I know where it is. That’s tax stuff. Oh just stop harassing me.”
“Dad, I’m not harassing you.”
“Dale, Julie is not harassing you, she’s trying to help”
“Dad just let me help you sort this out.”
“No, no, get out, get out now! Just leave all this alone.”

This as Gloria begins to moan and lament, with tears in her eyes, while Dad is hollering that I just seem to come up to “get her upset.”

A very long story made short and 3 hours later. . .
Gloria and I sat at the desk slowly making our way through the stacks of never-ending paper while Dad hovered in and out, pacing as if someone was having a baby, continuing the mantra of get out and quit harassing. Gloria just keeps mumbling “we need to be in a home, just in a home, I’m telling you, a home”

Suddenly Dad reappears at the door, this time cradling a stack of old Santa Pictures he wants to show me. Pictures of my brother and I with Santa.
A diversion.
Not so fast mister, I’m on to you Dad.
Gloria tells me that he hides the mail from her. And that he’s gotten so good at lying.
Really? Ain’t no doubt.
I immediately think back to his slick little story concerning the insurance business.
Oh dear Lord, it is now official, I am now the parent of a parent who is reverting back to his adolescent ways.

I make my way through the 3 mountains of papers, documents, statements, bills—sorting, pulling, tossing, and scrambling to make calls. Luckily we have the major utilities automatically paid. I did however have to make a call and phone payment to Visa, pulling money from his savings. I am embarrassed to say how much he owed. That was an event unto itself but thankfully the Visa man was very kind and waived the $35 late fee—which almost made me laugh as Dad owed so much, $35 was nothing.
Thank God he had the money in savings to pay it.

The car insurance may be canceled. Of course he no longer drives (thank God) but Gloria does so I need to look into that next week. I pulled out the top 10 “pay immediately” priority bills, organized those and had him sit down to write checks. All the while as Dad chants the “oh woe is me” tune—to no sympathy on my end.

By 2PM I had a massive headache.
“Don’t you want something to eat? Let me fix you something. You came all this way and haven’t even eaten. Of course I could go all day, I don’t need to eat” Gloria goes on in this nervous sort of stupor.
“No thank you, but you go ahead and fix y’all something. I know you both must be hungry.
You know I’ve got to get on the road if I’m going to beat the afternoon rush.”
Atlanta’s rush hour begins at 5AM and wends down around 7PM with window of a lull around 2PM.

I bid my farewells with Dad exclaiming “what, you’re leaving so soon?”
Are you freaking kidding me–this coming from the man chanting for me to get out and go home an hour earlier. . .
Hear my sigh. . .
I will be back next week
Same bat time, Same bat channel. . .

The moral of this little tale, if there is such a thing with an aging parent dealing with Alzheimers-
A. Don’t let Dad have credit cards.
B. Always have Gloria intercept the mail
C. Never trust Dad. . .if he tells you one thing, the opposite will be the truth
D. Don’t let too much time pass between sorting visits
E. Don’t trust Dad
F. Patience and humor are essential
G. Never trust Dad. . .

7 comments on “Dad and the chickens

  1. Bless your heart. I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with this. Just take a deep breath and keep breathing, slowly, in and out, in and out. And remember this too shall pass. Hugs, prayers, and blessings coming your way. Love, Natalie 🙂

    • Thank you Natalie—I’ve written several posts about him and my dealings with him over this past year— as he was the impetus of my retirement. It’s been a love hate thing for sure as my family’s story is one of good ol dysfunction—written about that too during the course of the year—good cathartic medicine to be sure.
      Some day’s it does get me down especially at first when I saw first hand his defiance, financial disasters from a man who had always been the warren buffet of the family, his ugliness with me—I am the only child (lost my brother to suicide almost 25 years ago but dad has him idolized)–so I have panicked a bit as I feel my way along in the dark alone–but I have a cousin who lives in Atlanta who has been my rock and helper with the legalities and finances—, I’ve got to make lite and laugh–otherwise I’d really be bad off.
      I share the stories because I know there are other out there finding themselves in my shoes–maybe they’ll stumble upon my tales and find a bit of solace 🙂

      • The last 5 months of my mother’s life were very difficult as she suffered from some kind of dementia that at times looked and felt like pure meanness. On top of that my two sisters decided to take opposition to my compliance with things she was asking me to do. As a result they abandoned me to be her only caretaker until she died. I had friends I could share my grief with and that helped and fortunately they helped me keep my sense of humor most of the time. Your stories will be of help to others and just telling them will be a cathartic release for you as well. Hang in there missy.
        You are doing a good job. Hugs and love and more prayers…Natalie 🙂

      • Wow, do you still have a relationship with your sisters?
        I do have my mom’s younger sister, my aunt. She’s 75, lives in Florida but we’ve been really close since mother died 28 years ago. She’s the one I travel with. She’s been great to help me with dad, if it’s just me calling her in a panic. But on a day to day basis, it’s just little ol me. Gloria’s two children–one is my age 54, the other is my husband’s age 64—we don’t have anything to do with them but her son was the one who did set up auto payments for Dad’s utilities as I’m still old fashioned preferring to pay via check and receiving a monthly statement. A little too much technology is not always a great thing.
        But for now, it is a day to day thing—or week to week. . .
        I hope you have a grand weekend–
        All my love Natalie–

      • Yes, one of my sisters and I have reconciled. The other one and I have tried to several times, but she has anger issues about a lot of things she’s never dealt with, and I’m not willing to put up with her abusive screaming and yelling any more. I’m open to a reconciliation between us but not until she gets her anger under control.
        I hope you had a great day and a great Sabbath tomorrow. Hugs and love to you Cookie. Natalie 🙂

  2. Lynda says:

    Julie, how difficult it is to be in your position. I know many people younger than me who are looking after aging parents. It isn’t only difficult to do the work but it is heart-wrenching to watch a parent deteriorate before your eyes. Blessings and prayers for you for all that you do.

    • Thank you Lynda–I’m trying to find more of the humor in it these days than the sadness. Not being a financial savvy person who understands all the taxes, insurance, the banking –that is the frustrating thing as I don’t know if Im really doing all for him I can—I’m good at putting on the band-aids–hoping that gets us through til the next crisis.
      so far, so good—one day at a time, for now
      Thank you for your concern and prayerful thoughts–
      Hugs to you—Julie

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