Thursday, May 24, 2012

Update on Dad


I initially started writing this one week ago today, so much is happening I need to get it posted now before more time passes.

A lot of things have been happening and although I think of the blog often I have not had the time or extra energy to write.  With so much going on I’m never quite sure where to start.

Dad is still in rehab trying to gain strength after he fell in the shower, and, he had a bout with the Flu, the nasty Nora Virus.  He had been very, very ill.  From what I gather he is having a lot of other problems but the doctors have to focus on one thing at a time.  Dad is lucid, for the most part, and, at this point he still recognizes my voice when I call. 

I wonder what this is like for him, being away from home with constant care, sometimes lucid, sometimes confused and talking with a staccato cadence.  That can-do attitude is a powerful thing, but, as I’ve realized, sometimes the greatest wisdom is knowing when to stop fighting, not resigning, but settling in to acceptance which is the only pathway to peace.  Letting go seems counterintuitive to our human nature, especially in this culture of Type-A’s and go-getters.  But those Type-A’s and go-getters never have struck me as the peaceful, happy or content sort anyway…especially since I was one once. 

Life is complicated and difficult, were I to expect anything less is to set myself up for even greater suffering with no hope for healing.  Deepak Chopra was on Oprah’s Life Class and he said every death is a reminder of the brevity of life.  True.  I learned that when my Mom died and I was only 16.  Yes, how are we living right now?  He also mentioned reminding ourselves that everything we see right here, right now will be gone.  Wow. 

We spend a lot of time, money and energy into keeping ourselves alive, ‘fighting’ the signs of aging, pushing to live one more day, distracting ourselves from the unchangeable notion we will all die one day.  Truth is, from the moment we’re born, we’re all dying.  Some sooner than others, but it may be worthwhile to inquire of ourselves just how well we’re living.  Are we living good lives right now? 

I’ve spoken with both my Step-Mom and Sister-in-Law recently.  Ah, these situations bring up the family dysfunction.  Oh joy, oh bliss.  Right now I have a good perspective on things and like not being closer and pulled into it.  That may change as things progress. 

My Sister-in-Law and Nephews will be flying to Seattle in six weeks.  My Sister-in-Law asked if I would be there.  Well, this is the first I’d heard about this so was caught off guard.  I told her it’s difficult for me to travel and she said she understood.  Clearly she does not and cannot understand.  She broached the subject of my not returning her email or voicemails in the past.  Hmm…my processing is in the lowest percentile possible so talking on the phone is NOT a good thing for me and is about as comfortable as an interrogation would be, complete with glaring light.

I tell her I had to back off all communication due to the lawsuit so that’s why I disappeared from online.  She understood and seemed relieved that it wasn’t because I was mad at her.  If I had been, I told her, I didn’t remember!  It didn’t dawn on me until later when I relayed this to Richard it was due to something specific. 

When I had hit rock bottom and my only foreseeable way to keep my house was a fundraiser, she was one of the people I asked if she’d be willing to head it up.  I thought she’d be a good candidate; she’s very involved in the religious community, works for a Christian organization and has a lot of contacts.  Her response?  She has two teenage sons and was TOO BUSY.  Wow.  How she can say how much they love me and yet are completely disconnected, unable to be there or offer even the slightest bit of support.  Hypocrite.  Love is something you do, and, if necessary, use words.

So I sit here thinking of what else to write as there’s so much emotional family baggage to sort through. It’s not important in the big picture of life but it is important for me to process it well and move on.  A lot to let go of, reflecting on who Dad was and wasn’t.  Only recently have I come to terms to just how much my family has been a source of pain.  We’re in the moderate to severe range when it comes to dysfunction, complete with domestic violence, police reports and a whole host of events that can really screw people up.   
Grief need not be ‘bad’ or ‘good,’ it just is.  I revisit, reflect, I do not stay there.  I have the choice to think on it for a while and let it go.  I never had the chance to get away from it growing up.  Just having the choice is empowering and freeing. 

Dad’s wife is struggling to take care of herself right now as she fell, hit her head against the house and was rushed to ER.  They did a CAT scan and said she was fine and sent her home.  She’s had some headaches since then.  She also had that terrible flu my Dad had, one of her sons saw how very, very sick she was and took her to ER for the second time.  They did a second CAT scan and found nothing; she stayed in the hospital overnight for observation and went home the next day.  Well of course, in my mind is a flashing neon sign saying, “BRAIN INJURY” and I say to her that was strange they did not do an MRI, she agreed.  She is still recovering from the flu and is very, very tired. 

Our next step is to find a place for Dad, my preference is to keep him at the rehab facility if at all possible.  He gets good care, he was there previously, they have good food and my Step-Mom concurs the people on staff are wonderful.  Can we afford it?  At this point I don’t know.  We’ll need to find out what sort of benefits my Dad may have from serving in WWII as well as look into his personal assets.

My Sister-in-Law seems ready to take the lead on this although no one has asked her to and I find it odd for how distant they’ve been throughout this why she wants to take this on. ..not to mention letting me fall one step closer to homelessness and hopelessness.  They have a lot going on in their lives from what she’s told me, besides, my brother (her husband) and I are the Executors of Dad’s will.  I would think Dad would want us making the decisions.  This is weird.  Out of three brothers, all older than me, it seems like I’m most in tune and connected with what is going on with everyone. 

I’m still friends on Facebook with the retired Social Worker from rehab and I recall she had to move her father to a care facility too not long ago.  I’m considering asking her for direction because of her experience with this type of situation and understands my TBI.

I did manage to communicate a couple of points to my Sister-in-Law.  One, this is what we were raised to do, it’s our turn to step up to the plate and do the right thing, honor Dad and help him live out his life with dignity and support, and, we don’t need to make this any more difficult than it already is.  By that last comment I meant it is important to live in the moment and not future trip about ANYTHING.  That was how I was able to honor and be present for my dog when it was her time to go and it was beautiful. 

I also said the fear we have about death is learned.  None of us come into this world with a fear of death; it is our experiences or lack of coping skills that make us weak in this area.  I think that’s why I like Patch Adams, the movie, so much.  Why not face death with dignity and maybe even a little humor? 

Talking with her, giving her comfort, encouragement and strength I realized the storms of life had made me stronger and I was surprised.  I hadn’t made myself stronger; every act of kindness shown to me was stored up in my heart.  It is that energy that drives me now…gratitude and service. 

These are difficult moments for sure.  We can go into this complaining and dragging our feet but changes nothing and only serves to increase our own suffering.  Who in the heck wants that?  The process of death can indeed be beautiful, I believe, because it is a process of nature and we are a part of nature.

It’s not about us, it’s not about the dysfunction, mistakes, distance, or grievances experienced.  It’s about letting it all go and living in the moment…and isn’t that what living a good life is all about?  

Being able to be vibrantly alive in the moment , helping ourselves and others have a beautiful, inspiring and empowering experience.  There is beauty in this very moment in each of our lives; it is our job to find it.  Sometimes it is as elusive as a butterfly or as available as the air we breathe.

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