Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Dad's death one year ago. It is so hard to believe that it has been a year and that he is really gone. His voice and the way he looked at the world is still with me. He confidence in me and the way he always saw the positive side of any situation is still with me. I just wish that he was still with me.

Mom told me yesterday that the Russians are controlling our weather. This fits right into a book I just finished by Virginia Holman: Rescuing Patty Hearst. It is all about being taken to a family cabin for three years by her schizophrenic mother. It is a really powerful book. While life with my Mom was never that extreme, she still believes things like "the Russians are controlling our weather".

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday evening

Mom managed to go off the handle today. For some reason known only to her, she refused to come over for lunch with us today. Maybe it was her getting on my last nerve over my church and my political choices. I told her that I have had it with her on going commentary on my life. Anyway, she refused to come Pamela and I had a wonderful lunch outside on our patio on a beautiful sunny day.

I need a break from Mom. My patience with her is definitely worn thin. I can barely stand to listen to her theatrical old lady voice that she modulates up and down. The doctor told me that it is a voluntary she has complete control of it. I am tired of her demanding and judgmental nature. I just need a break.

Father's Day 2008

Father's Day

This is my first Father's Day without Dad. I woke up thinking that this time last year, Dad had 9 more days to live. I think of him, there in the nursing home, and wonder how I got through those tough days. I think his attitude helped it always had throughout my life. He was pragmatic...and calm about his condition and his eventual death. He kept saying "No one has come back complaining". He never really complained about his pain...except when it was hard for him to sit comfortably. I think the tumors moved into his spine. He wasn't on liquid morphine until the last two days. He talked less, but still did pretty well when it came to eating. Then he was gone. Seeing him that Sunday afternoon that he died was a strange experience...but I felt no fear or caution around him. He had helped prepare me for that moment...and when it came, I felt compelled to trim his do one more thing for him.

We had many happy Father's Days...always a card and a good conversation. I found a card that I gave him that expresses a lot of what I feel about my is what it says:

Thank you for letting me know I could always count on you, that you believed in me, and you'd stand by me, no matter what.

Thank you for encouraging the dreamer in me, for loving me through each and every fad and phase, and for accepting my ideas when they are different from your own...

Thank you for having faith during the times when I had to do it on my own, and for being there when things didn't work out exactly how I thought they would. Thank you for all that you are-my wonderful, wise and loving Father.

So, Happy Father's Day, Dad. I am so grateful that you were and continue to be my Dad.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Dad and I in Arizona

I made many trips to Arizona over the years to visit with Mom and Dad. Sometimes everything would go well...other times Mom would do something that would just be too much for me to handle. One time she laid out an article by my plate at breakfast from Dear Abby all about gay people. It was not an especially positive column and it just made me so mad that I decided to leave early. Dad was great about it...he took me to the airport, paid the extra $25 and put me on the plane. He was very understanding about my decision.

One very special memory I have is when I went to visit in the fall of 1980. I was getting ready to entry graduate school but had planned the trip so that I could see both of them before I started school. Dad and I took a car trip for about 4 days. We drove to Chama, NM and took a single gauge railroad ride into Colorado. We drove to the Four Corners, arriving near sunset and just took in the beauty of that place. We also visited a professor of mine from college on the Indian Reservation where she was doing some research. It was a fantastic trip. I made a short 8 mm film of our railroad ride. I will never forget how much we enjoyed that time together.

Happy Father's Day, Dad

I was always sure that Dad enjoyed being a parent. He loved me and he loved my brother. Dad and I really were on the same wavelength. We understood each other on a deeper level. When I was an adult he confirmed this for me by acknowledging that we had been friends for a long time. Note the use of the word "friend" over Dad and daughter. He saw us as equals...joint survivors and support for each other.

One thing Dad did for me when I was a child was to help me understand and learn to navigate in our family. He would explain things to me as early as third grade about what was happening with Mom.

I always felt like he was there for matter what. He was the one who picked me up off the gravel road in back of our house. A bunch of us were spying on a guy who appeared to be emptying his liquor bottles in a vacant lot across from our house. When everyone turned around, I fell and ended up with a mouth full of gravel. I remember him running out, picking me up and carrying me home over his shoulder as blood streamed down his white dress shirt.

I have so many memories that flash by as I write this. I think in memory of him and in honor of this first Father's Day without him, I will write about a memory of him each day this weekend.

Mom and Dad, August 8, 1947

This is Mom and Dad's wedding picture. They were married in Seattle, Washington on August 8, 1947.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I had forgotten that this Sunday is Father's Day until I went to pick up my new glasses. Suzy, the woman who always helps me find the best glasses gave me a big hug after fitting my new pair and said that she would be thinking of me this Father's Day. This is the first one without Dad. I am doing better overall with his death, but I still miss his calm and supportive presence.

I see that I have become that calm and supportive person for my Mom. I was busy doing other things this morning...going into work early so I could leave early today. I completely forgot to phone Mom ...which is something I do every morning...around 7:30am. I noticed that I had a voicemail on my cell from my brother. His message was that Mom had called him and was really upset and agitated that I had not called this morning. I called Mom and could tell right away that she was over the top with worry. She was just about to call the police when I called her. She had imagined all kinds of dire things that could have happened. I calmly explained that I had just gotten busy and had forgotten to call. I went over this several times with her until she was able to calm down a bit. I rang off by promising that I would call around 4:30pm.

This episode tells me that Mom needs the routines I have established with her. A phone call in the morning and another after I get off work. Tuesday evening I go out and make dinner. Thursday morning I take her to the store or the doctor or whatever else she needs to do. Sunday afternoon we either have dinner at her house or I take her someplace for dinner. She counts on all of these things to make her world manageable. She needs the routine.

No wonder I am tired all the time. I am trying to manage to have my own life and career and relationship...while being the daily anchor in this world for Mom.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Father lived and died on the altar of my Mother's illness.

Sixty years spent creating a world that she could live in safely. All the while putting up with her fears, paranoid thoughts, irrational behavior and still caring for her. He loved her or he loved taking care of her. His only stated reason for all those years of care was her role as the mother of his children. That was enough for him to take on this huge task. I marvel at his courage to this day. I wonder how he could have survived and even thrived with a positive attitude all those years in such a chaotic environment.

It is not accurate to say that Mom has no positive qualities. She was and is a prisoner of her personality disorder. She loved and still loves my Father. She told me that he never let her down. It is all so complicated and yet so simple all at the same time. I will never fully understand their relationship. I believe that they experienced times of great happiness...and great upheaval. I know there was physical and psychological abuse directed towards my Father. I know my Mother often called me to talk through an argument that she had had with my Father. I know so much and so little....all at the same time.

As I approach the one year anniversary of my Father's death, I know that I miss him every day. I also know that I am doing the last thing that I promised him I would do ...taking care of my Mother. I know he is cheering me on, in my corner, in my ear saying that I am doing a great job.....doing all that I can to help my Mother...the woman who is the mother of his children.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Macy, our rat terrier/corgi cross looking like part of an OP Art rug design....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I have been up since 6:15am. I love the quiet of the morning. I feed the dogs, let them out and then they go back to bed. North, our cat, runs around the house as fast as he can and then he settles down somewhere. I read my email, look at the local newspaper online, and just enjoy being the only one awake in the house.

I am going to church this morning and then to Mom's apartment. She has had a tough time for the last two days. She is so lonely, but so resistant to being with anyone but me, Pamela and my brother. I am losing patience with her. I know she would do better if she was in assisted living....even if she does look at it as being "supervised" living. The fact of the matter is that she could benefit from a little supervision.

I am looking at an apartment closer to our house. She wants to leave the apartment she is in because she doesn't like looking at the balconies at the apartment next door. People store a lot of stuff on their balconies and she finds it "ugly". I am ok with moving her will save me time and gas usage. I am not willing to keep moving her every year as my Dad did the first 10 years they lived in Arizona..or the last two years they lived there after they sold their condo. Mom always thinks the grass is greener somewhere else...when in fact it is the same damn grass! I think part of her personality disorder feeds into this need to keep moving. I am willing to do one more move for her..but after that..if she wants to move she will have to go into assisted living.

I am feeling worn out and impatient with Mom these days. She does nothing but complain...about her situation, missing Dad, not understanding his death...blah, blah, blah. She has been supportive of my new job which is great...but all the other stuff just wears me down.

I will go and take her to dinner today..she enjoys getting out of the house. Maybe church this morning will restore me a bit and give me the strength I need for this day.