Monday, April 09, 2012

On the Family Front

Those of you following the adventures of Steve Down South, a quick update: I am home, still catching up on my sleep, but thrilled to be here. 

Alive, and not in jail for patricide ...

Longest nine days of my life. Never so relieved to leave a place. I would have sat on the jet's wing without a jacket to get home. 

I shan't bore you with TMI details, save to save it was what you might expect with a demented and incontinent patient. If you have gone down this road, you already know; if you haven't, words aren't enough to give you the feel. It's a 24/7 on-call nightmare, in this case. I have the training, I knew what to do, I did it, but ...

If I loved the old man and respected him, it would have so much been easier. I would do this for my wife until the end and consider it a labor of love,  but my old man? 

Sons and fathers, fathers and sons.

Some of you know that story.

I have let go of a lot of my issues with the old man, but there is one really big, hot button I discovered buried way deep: You will never lay a hand on me or my mother and siblings again. Don't even think about trying.

So the worst times were when he became combative and wanted to take a swing at me. His face full of rage, his fist drawn back, and, Oh, how I wanted him to take that swing! He didn't, because while he was always quick to hit, he was also a bully, and not going to attack somebody who could fight back. 

I even said it at one point: "Go ahead! Throw that punch and see what happens!"

I honestly don't know what I would have done had he swung. All I needed was one finger and a poke to the chest to sit him down, he's physically very weak. And I have worked for a long time learning to curb my temper, which is every bit as quick and violent as my father's. 

But that demon was hard on my shoulder and smiling, and I wouldn't have bet a nickel my better angel would win that one. Fortunately, I didn't have to go there.

During one semi-coherent conversation after he got into a yelling match with my mother, there was this:

"Where's Mama? I want to talk to her."

"She doesn't want to talk to you right now. She's upset."

"Upset? She should be scared to death of me!"

Yeah. That's a big part of the problem. That's what you want.

I know intellectually that the rants arise from a blown circuit; that he doesn't know what he is saying from moment-to-moment, and won't remember it two minutes later. But emotionally, he behaves as he did fifty years ago. He's not a sweet old man, he's reverted to his basic nature. It is hard to feel sympathetic. It feels like karma come round.

My sister came back and we had a long talk. She's not quite ready to pack him up and off, and that's her choice. I told her I supported her in whatever she chose to do, but that she would be have to make that decision eventually. He might have some remissions, and he would probably behave better for her than me–he knows her face and has a name to go with it; he never knew who I was the whole time I was there. But if I had to bet, sooner or later, his innate rage will boil up and he will lash out at somebody. 

And other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play ... ?


steve-vh said...

Right there with ya Steve. My father is supposed to be moved out of the hospital to an accute care rehab facility today.
I called yesterday and they put me on speaker phone. He smiled when I spoke (which is big), very productive conversation, LOL

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Sorry to hear about this, Steve. Fathers and sons.