Saturday, October 11, 2014

Here at the moment

comes a time
 in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and
people who
create it. You surround yourself with people who make you
laugh. Forget
the  bad and focus on the good. Love the people
 who treat you well, pray for the ones who don't. Life
is too short to
be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life,
getting back up
is living.
If anybody's still reading this blog, let me know LOL. This is the condensed version of my life:  taking care of happy business, and doing as little as possible to take care of ugly business. Happy business: gardening.  Ugly business: elder care.
For my particular 101-year-old-father.  How's that for elder?  Our family promised to keep him in his home until he dies and we're honoring this.  Now I feel angry at its cost to my brother and his wife, who live with him.  They're locked into a situation with a mad man.  Oh!  I want to walk away from all the drama and break our vow.  I feel guilty because I do so little to help - I clean closets, cart away my hoarder Dad's stuff,  throw money at essential house repairs.  But I make my visits as brief and infrequent as possible.  My 65 year old brother and his wife uprooted their lives for him.  It's torturing them.  What to do? 
Understanding why he's so spiteful isn't helping me handle it well.  Reasoning with him is impossible, but then that's his age.  I'll wager he's feeling scared and helpless and deflecting it onto his children.  But who knows what's in his head?  He doesn't talk 'feelings'.  No, instead he laughingly pitches daggers so sharp with scorn that he's drawing emotional blood.  I don't want to be near him.  It hurts so much.  According to him  Nothing needs fixing. I don't give a damn about your feelings.  Get out of my way.  Go away!!!  Actually, Dad has always operated according to these principles.  He is just missing the younger person's ability to self regulate his impulses and behavior. 

Yes, he does the typical old people things, leaving stovetop burners on, wearing clothes too many days in a row, wearing nothing at all, pulling out his catheter, telling the doctors he's fine when he's not, falling down because he's weak.  But this past year, he's also insisted on tipping the refrigerator over to clean underneath, taking the stove apart with its 50 amp power on, cutting a neighbor's tree down, eating fuzzy green food, and painting over cracks so deep, smelly and black that every rainstorm leaves him wet in bed.  Naturally, we don't let him get a pass on these.  That's when he gets mean.  He laughs at us for inventing problems that don't exist.  Tries to trip us up.  Sneaks around behind our backs.  Uh, huh.  No elder abuse exists here.  We're good kids.  But plenty of abuse exists on his end.  This makes me sad and philosophical from afar and hurt and angry up close. 
This is a falling down part of life.  I feel guilty for walking away from the drama. 


  1. 101!!!! Wow, how much longer can he live? Your brother and his wife are saints for keeping a promise under circumstances like you're describing. But then getting someone declared incompetent so he could be forced into a nursing home comes with it's own drama and guilt as well. These are character building or busting times you're in right now. Nothing you can do or say is going to change your father so you have to find a way to keep this stuff from getting inside your head. Hang in there and remember there is a fine line between dramatic tragedy and dramatic comedy. If you let go of still wanting something from him you're never going to get, it would be easier to let go of drama and deal more dispassionately with your obligations to the whole family.

  2. We siblings parrot two of my father's favorite expressions for laughs:
    "Oh, come ON" he says....the roof's not LEAKING...the food's not moldy...EVERYBODY fixes their stovetop without turning power off...

    "No-o-o-o" (Like, you know, EVERYBODY who's smart tips over their refrigerator to clean underneath)...

    I hear you. Respect reality more than insanity.

  3. Sometimes you've got to laugh to keep the tears from flowing.

    1. Yup. Engine's running, but the wheels came off his car a long time ago !

  4. My Dad, who could be meaner than a dog to me, seemed to get more so when he got older. BUT--he had a step-wife that had to contend with him and I had NO SAY in his care--and I DIDN'T WANT any say in his care. I sure didn't want her to die first or, as the eldest, it would have been up to me and he had to stay in his house until he died and he wouldn't have wanted me around and I didn't want to be around. It always seemed to me that the worse parent it the one who lived the longest. Sorry for MY rant--I guess your post just touched an old nerve.

  5. Man, does it hurt to be rejected. Thanks for being so honest here. Parents sure know what buttons to push - they invented them. These Dads actually want to hurt their own kids. Not all the time, but when they're crossed. Yup, meaner than a junk yard dog. It helps us to know who one is dealing with.