News from Illinois

First off, if you don’t know the history between my father and me, or are sadistic and just want to refresh your memory, here’s your chance to catch up. Just peruse this entry from June12, 2002, this one from June 17, 2002, and one last one, from June 21, 2002.

Wednesday evening, I saw a call was coming through from my uncle’s phone number in Illinois. Fearing it was probably my father again, perhaps just using my uncle’s phone, I zapped the call. I was feeling down and just didn’t want to deal with my father if it was him starting to call and harass me again. I assumed that someone would call back if it were an emergency. No one did, but it kept bugging me. I wasn’t bugged enough to call and see why someone from that number was calling, however. I’m a big chicken, you know.

The next day, there was a message on our voicemail from the head nurse at the facility where my father is living. Evidently, his parkinson’s disease has progressed further, plus he’d become despondent to the point of not eating the last couple of weeks. The woman said he’s lost a bunch of weight in the last month, and doctors were going to have to insert a feeding tube if he were going to receive any nourishment. Unable to make this decision for himself because he’s non-responsive, a doctor would need a family member’s permission to insert a tube.

Because his sister finally couldn’t take his abuse anymore and went to court to remove herself as his power of attorney, she could not give this permission. His brother was contacted, but did not want to okay or deny this without talking with his sister and with me. So, I was called. I suppose I would have done the same thing had I been in their shoes.It still doesn’t make me want to be involved with all this.

It must sound cold-hearted to someone on the outside. The thing is, I’ve not talked to my father since last June, and I don’t have any relationship with him. I tried to, for a time, but he just started abusing what little I was able to offer him so tentatively. But as my aunt (my other one – mom’s sister) so eloquently put it, “…even though you and your father are estranged, the ties still pull and hurt”. That about sums it up.

I spoke to my uncle’s wife last night, and she filled me in on the details. Here was this woman, a stranger to me, yet we were bound by the common tie of my father’s mental illness. We’ve all tried to help him, and he’s abused us all in his insatiable, crazy need. It’s one of those situations where you find yourself sharing a rueful, mirthless chuckle over the idiocy you’ve witnessed.

She told me my uncle and aunt both agreed that my father has just become so depressed with his life that he just doesn’t want to live anymore. In all honesty, I can sympathize; he has a body that is messed up with a progressive neurological disease, life-long depression, no true friends, and no place to call home other than a crappy nursing home which receives his government check every month. Given the situation, I think I might want to just let go and die, too.

It would be cruel to prolong this. And, really, forced sustinance or not, he’s on a decline. He’s only approaching his 60th birthday, too. How sad is that?

I’m in the middle of such a dichotomy about this. On the one hand, his situation is pretty pathetic and it’s such a shame. But on the other, he’s brought so much of this on himself, at least the being alone part. There’s only so much friends and family can give. That is a shame, too.

When he finally does die, I don’t know if I will journey out there for the funeral or not. I’ve only seen my aunt a smattering of times before mom and I moved away from Illinois in 1981, and I barely know my uncle. With my father, there are awful memories; with his siblings, there aren’t many memories at all. I don’t know what the point would be in my going out there.

I think everyone involved will be relieved when he finally goes. I have often wished he would just die rather than keep being so messed up, because at least then I could just say “my father is dead”. It’s so much simpler. God, that sounds selfish and awful, but that’s how I’ve felt.


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