It is ironic that five years ago today I saw my father for the last time. I can still see him standing in front of his house as I waved from the car, with a look that matched his look when he found me in his house. Not of surprise but of mistrust. You see I found myself in his house not by my choice but because a nurse at his cardiologist's office called, concerned he had not shown up for his appointment. Well, long story short, after I had driven the route to the office and searched the parking garage and coming back to his home every single way I knew to go, I sat in his office looking through a rolodex getting phone numbers when he came inside and found me at his desk. Because I know his nature and how he thinks I spent a lot of time with him going over meds, license numbers and getting the numbers of some of his friends. It was nearing 4:30 in the afternoon and I needed to return home when he asked me to go to one of the assisted living places he was considering. If he truly was considering making the move I would have gone but we had gone through this whole thing before. Besides, my stamina was gone, my heart working overtime and I was extremely tired and spent from the physical and emotional deluge of looking for my father and me realizing how little I knew about his whereabouts and what meds he took. As I drove away I knew this was not going to end well...and I was right. When we would get the phone calls from the police, Adult Protective Services or the Constables, I would begin the conversation with, the last time I saw or spoke with my father was March 27, 2012. Then in April came the papers served by his attorney that he severed his relationship with us over a conspiracy he constructed that didn't have an iota of truth to it.
March 27, 2017 is another day entirely. It seems that my father is in the process of making his exit from this earthly realm and will soon be with his Savior. My brother has sent me several pictures. One in particular was from two weeks ago when his assisted living had a field trip to the rodeo and he looks healthy and happy but fast forward two weeks and he is emaciated and frail. His assessment today has him on morphine administered every four hours. He tried to get up last night and fell. He is being moved to the skilled nursing area.
The last time he was in skilled nursing is when he needed to be in assisted living to recover from a fall or a mini stroke. It depends on who got told what by him. Instead of living in the assisted area, he chose skilled nursing for the thirty days free. He didn't realize how little privacy he would have being in skilled nursing. Thus began his escapade of the great escape where he hid his mini van and would drive home to take a shower, go through mail and such. I once stopped by to see him unannounced and he was furious with me when he found my note. He made sure I never stopped by without letting him know first. We limited our visits to him because he yelled, berated and demanded from us things we could not do. In hindsight, after being told the whole story, we should have guessed he had hidden his minivan at a nearby synagogue within walking distance for him.
The past five years of not having to participate in his chaotic life, to have to sort through his lies and untruths, trying to help him when he would do what he wanted and what was not best for him, have been freeing for my health. He could weary one so quickly. I think it dawned on him too late what he had done when he made the grand gesture of the lawyer and the papers and instead of apologizing or trying to reconcile, I believe these lies he told were to draw us back into his life without him having to humble himself. If he hadn't acted so quickly and served us with papers, we would have been there helping him and yes, being subjected to his abuses but the drama with the lawyer was it for me.
You see this is the man who told family not to reveal that mom was in the hospital and at the end of her life. She couldn't talk so it was not unusual just to talk with him on the phone and he never said a word to me about the turn of events. Thankfully, family members didn't do his bidding. I found out and talked with him and asked if we could begin with a clean slate and both of us put aside our differences and forgive each other. I thought it would make a difference in our relationship but it didn't last. I had hoped we had turned a corner.
My father didn't have an easy life. An unwanted child by his mother but not so much by his father who tried and life is difficult when his brother was the favored child. He worked hard, became successful but at a huge expense to himself and to others. I don't know if he really ever enjoyed anything other than keeping track of money and stocks. You can understand why he always had huge trust issues, even over the littlest of things and that fear kept him locked up in his own turmoil. His inner turmoil translated into chaos for those around him. Even when I was very young and he still liked me back then, every playtime or snow walk or Saturday errand had an element of fear involved. Not being a professional therapist, I do believe I went to my fearless zone so often because deep inside I wanted to prove to myself I didn't have to be afraid. Well, I chose the wrong situations to go to the fearless zone where I didn't care about consequences or end results. That might be a story for another day.
One of the strangest conversations I ever had with my father is when he talked to me about his funeral service, this was many years ago. He had it all planned out which is not unusual except he was in robust health at the time and most plan their funeral when they are in the throes of illness. The music all had a sad tinge to it and he told me he wanted that music because he couldn't trust that people would be sad to see him gone, so sad music might bring a few tears that would translate as sadness at his departure.
After he retired he began working with troubled youth at the Burnett Bayland home which is so ironic because this is the place he threatened my brother and me with. Back in the day it was an orphanage. Our home like every other one at that time only had a phone in the hallway in a little niche built for just that purpose. Beside the phone was a personal phone book of important numbers to my parents. Under B was the phone number for the Burnett Bayland Home that my father would fake call, I am guessing they were fake calls, asking the orphanage to come get his son and daughter because he didn't want them anymore. By the time he was volunteering there it had become a juvenile detention facility.
I am concerned for him and a peaceful transition from earth to heaven. I forgave him a long time ago and love him. Sadly, I have to confess, I have not missed him. A friend who has battled brain cancer for the past five years has been placed under hospice care. The outpouring of love to him because of his life and ministry is pouring out on social media as friends declare their love and appreciation of this very talented and ministry minded man. My father could be funny and creative but he couldn't give...like this friend.
Through all of this my brother is my hero. He is seeing our father through this and trying to keep him there in skilled nursing as long as possible, for him to be comfortable. Because my father tried to get up in the middle of the night and fell, he is on morphine administered every four hours. He is so agitated without it. Doug told me that he had our father's wedding ring on his keychain and he read the inscription out loud on the inside of the ring, then Doug added, you'll be seeing mom soon. Doug said our father smiled and drifted back into sleep.