Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love Dennis

I dunno if any of you have a really sick parent. If you do - I am so sorry. I wouldn't wish that on ANYONE. And anyone with parents experiencing dementia... it is really difficult to see them sorta dwindling away with a healthy body while the mind rots and there is really nothing anyone can do.

With this wierd little blog in cyberspace I mostly remain cheerful and happy because that is who I choose to be.


I have baggage from my bizzare childhood... and it is biz-ARE. We all have baggage. A lot of people on this Earth had it way worse than I ever did and a lot of people didn't. shrug. I think it is simply the hand you happened to be dealt when the universe was playing poker.

I think mostly people come thru those difficult experiences cuz of who they are. Some people don't come out of difficult experiences very well at all.

In my opinion, my sister didn't come thru our childhood as well as I did. I think she struggles more with it. Which must be a lot and I'm glad I don't live in her head. I have a hard enough time with my own damn self and the hamster that eternally runs on the wheel in my brain. (I'd really love to kill that f'ing hamster but he jus' keeps a goin' and a goin' and a goin') I don't think anyone knows what gives one person the ability to survive a thing that would destroy someone else? I don't always feel like a survivor, but I guess that is what I am. Like many, I survived my childhood.

Sometimes, and a lot of times over the past year, I really and truly wish I hatched from an egg on a beach somewhere with NO family and NO parents and NO siblings. Wish I coulda just crawled right into the primordial ooze and been done with it. This past year I feel like my family finally got to me... finally broke me... finally got into my head and blew out the "happiness pilot light" I always kept squirreled away in there (somewhere near the hamster)... it's a long story about what happened this year and I dunno if I will ever go into it because... I dunno if people want to listen to the darkness. There is too much darkness in the world as it is.

I keep trying to tell myself these people helped to make me who I am. The experiences I had in my life helped to make me who I am and for the most part I like who I am. I really like the life I chose for myself as an adult. To really hate the situations I was in as a kid or the people who put me in those situations is sorta counter productive. Doesn't it somehow say I hate myself?? I don't know. I still struggle to file it away somehow in a manner that makes sense to me and that I can live with.

I am an adult and every day I have choices. I can choose to get out of bed or not, I choose to go to work, I choose who I want to be every single day. And mostly that is a happy, easy going and pleasant person. Watch Jimmy Stewart's movie Harvey... there is a quote in there when he says something like, "My mother told me you can always be right or you can be pleasant. I'd recommend pleasant." It's what I shoot for. I don't always make it of course ... and the past year was hard. Really, really hard.

Anyway - I dunno what brought all that on. Only that I am feeling so RELIEVED right now.

Ah hell - my Dad's financial situation along with his nursing home situation just sucks the life outta me. All of a sudden I have a dependant. Someone played this nasty joke on me and left this big 6'2 demented man on my doorstep... rang the doorbell and ran away.

I dunno if you read Stephen King? In one of his short stories, there is a kid who has a really mean Dad. The Dad sends him out to get him beer. The kid brings him back a six-pack and when the Dad drinks one of the beers, he looks like he's gonna get violently ill.... it passes but it's clear that what he drank is changing him. The Dad begins to demand more and more of the kid, he develops this hunger and requires the kid to bring him more and more... horrific things ... the Dad begins to change into something vague, slippery and cellular.... something much more primal. The Dad can't speak any more, can't think other than to demand, think of the simplest life form you can... The kid keeps caring for him/it.... and it ends with the Dad beginning cellular division... you can all do the math can't you? 1 divides into 2 and 2 divides into 4 and 4 divides into 16.....

This is how I picture my Dad now and what the Parkinson's and dementia have done. I know. It's all sick and wrong and not exactly what Norman Rockwell portrays in any of HIS pictures.

I have no idea how my Pop screwed himself so completely and royally on his way down the slippery rabbit hole to dementia but he did and I'm the one left to deal with it. It's a mess. Less than back in 2005 but still... it just keeps going and happening and popping up when I don't expect it. Businesses generally don't believe me when I'm attempting to salvage something for him. I always have to prove this or that and show all kinds of documentaion and I always end up being a suspect in elder fraud.

Which is funny cuz that already happened and is part of the mess. I always wonder where were all you roadblocks when he was in trouble?! I'M the one trying to save what he has left... even though it's such a small, teeny piece. And I always think it should be more and I should do more, be more and he should have more but I've somehow fucked it up. It sucks in ways I can't begin to say. It's incredibly embarrassing. A lot of people are so proud of their Dads. I am so embarrassed and horrified of mine. And then I'm embarrassed for feeling embarrassed.

My sister offers to help. When I give her something to do tho', I never hear anything.... never hear if she ever did it or not so I'm not comfortable giving her much. If I follow up, she gets pissy and since we are "trying" to mend our relationship... ? Well, let's just say it's not so productive. I never get any information from her and I end up doing it myself anyway. It is easier to not ask and do it myself. I think it's her cop out method or coping mechanism for dealing with our family.

Like when he was moved from assisted living to a nursing home in the past year, we picked the week she was on spring break so she could help and when that week came around? She went on a trip and tried to play the "Oops! I forgot what week we were moving him!" card. Right. You forgot. Even tho' it was a week YOU picked and there were a lot of logistical things with dates in e-mails to YOU.... sure. O.k. You forgot. Right. Forgot.

Dad pretty much alienated his family so they aren't around to help and he beat the shit outta his wife, so there is no asking Mom to help. I suppose I should feel that I don't need to help him either... but if I don't help him when he can't help himself, doesn't it somehow make me as much of an asshole as he chose to be?

I love my Dad cuz he is my Dad but I don't like him very much. It is a very wierd and schizophrenic place to be. And yet he makes up 50% of my genetic material... so if he is all bad, then what does that make me? I have to believe there is some good in him somewhere in order to love myself and think that I am good.

When the whole mess went down with my Dad originally back in 2005, my sister was in Poland on a Fullbright. She didn't really have the option to be here and to be involved. I kept her posted on everything so she'd know what was happening but she will NEVER EVER know the true horror of what I found or what I did or what it feels like to leave your Dad at an assisted living facility and drive away with him trying to chase your car cuz he doesn't want you to leave him there with people he doesn't know in a place he doesn't know with only a handful of his personal belongings.

I remember Furry Husband looking at me with eyes as wide as saucers during our trip to Omaha and what we found and moving Dad to assisted living. He told me with a little in awe in his voice that I was so strong... and I think that is about the time I broke down sobbing. In the past, I have been told I'm strong... I don't see myself that way at all.

And it's all so schizophrenic because of who he was when we grew up. The reign of terror he held over our family and the constant choice he made to be a really big asshole for the most part. Oh, he wasn't all bad - I have good memories of him along with all the bad. See? Complete schizophrenia. J ust call me Sybill. Doesn't help that everyone who met him just LOVED him. He was always smiling and joking, athletic and I guess he was probably good looking - blonde and blue eyed. They just never saw him in a rage behind closed doors. He could be a lot of fun... but yeah, he could also be a monster.

I don't think anyone is ALL bad... and he had a pretty shitty childhood as well with a Father that was a sexual predator to his only daughter, was mentally ill and abusive. So not like my Dad had a lot of good role models.... but still. No excuses. You always, always, always have a choice about who you want to be.

Ultimately YOUR actions are YOUR responsibility and I think you have to claim that responsibility instead of hoisting it off onto others and what they did to you... I can't walk down the street, beat the crap outta someone and say, "It's not my fault. It was my childhood!" Not if I'm sane and not when there are so many avenues to help you cope or deal or forge a different path for yourself. Therapy, counseling, medication, group meetings, dial-a-psychic - whatever you might need - it's there for you.

Geez. Again with the sob story. Sorry. I'm really not feeling sorry for myself at all - these are the facts of my life. I guess I'm trying to set the stage for understanding. It helps to show you the level of relief I am feeling I think and how hard it's been.

The REASON I'm so relieved is cuz I just talked to Dennis. (insert angels singing on high and a ray of light shining down from above) Dennis is a guy who works at Dugan Funeral Home in Scottsbluff NE. (more light and shining angels singing on high) He very quickly and simply and with no fuss or fanfare wrote up a contract for my Dad's cremation.

See, I had this $1,500 in an IRA for my Dad... the IRS is after him and the Medicaid lady is a total f'ing bitch... I was afraid the IRS would confiscate this small IRA. I had hopes that if Dad needed something or in the event of an emergency it could be used for him and in the meantime earn interest. Whatever was left when he died would be used for his cremation. He is young - only 64 and his body is strong - his mind? yeeeaaah. Not s'much. Anyway, I don't anticipate his death any time soon.

The other burial things were put in place by Dan, (ominous thunder sounds and lightening cracks in the sky) the funeral guy in Omaha who was incredibly frigging hard to deal with and I spent literally MONTHS trying to get everything in place and it was so difficult and I almost went bald pulling all my hair out in dealing with this guy. The cremation wasn't paid for because I couldn't stand to deal with this guy any more. And the only way I got as far as I did with him was cuz Furry Husband helped me out quite a bit by making calls and talking to this guy. BUT Dad had pre-paid for some stuff with Dan (the ground shakes and cracks appear) back in the 80's and so I was sorta tied to the contract or I'd lose even more o' dear ol' Dad's money.

Well with the economy in the shitter and the IRS sending threats... I had to cash the IRA out. Sigh. More $$ lost for Dad - I couldn't risk keeping it there til the market corrects. I'm his POA and I have a bank account under MY name so his money can remain hidden from anyone after him. I have to spend it on something that the Medicaid bitch deems acceptable before it fritters away on small things like his cable bill, phone bill or sending him a little spending money for his pocket. I don't think the Medicaid bitch would go for me re-investing it under MY name. She barely and I mean barely tolerates that I have this bank account under my name for him. I had to send her copies of letters from all the collection agencies I get about him. She still put up a big ol' stank about it.

Dad's nursing home gave me the Dugan Funeral Home number where I spoke with Dennis. (more light, angels, long shiny trumpets, harps and a chorus of halleluia)

It was a 10 minute phone call I'd been putting off for two weeks. He made it easy, simple and by the end of the phone call I was singing his praises, telling him how wonderful he was and basically telling him how much I loved him and how much he just made my day. That man is WONDERFUL. He didn't put me thru the wringer and he is doing what I want. He didn't upsell. He didn't talk in circles. He didn't put me off and tell me he'd call me back without ever actually calling me back. I didn't have to talk to his supervisor. It was a SIMPLE business transaction. It didn't take months to complete.

He's putting the contract in the mail today and I can't tell you how much of relief it is that 1. the IRS will not get Dad's last tiny amount of $$ which if they did shows what a shitty daughter I am as well as a failure - (not really but that is what my brain tells me) 2. his funeral plans are totally complete and final so when the time comes, that is one piece o' the puzzle I won't have to deal with. 3. I don't have to fret and worry and hold on to this any more... it's been on my mind since before Christmas when I got the letter from the IRS saying they were gonna take his money.

Wierd huh? That making cremation arrangements for my Dad could bring me so much relief and joy.

Ahhhhh.... deep cleansing breath and let the tension outta my shoulders..... I love Dennis. Thank-you world for making men like Dennis and letting me talk to him today.


Dedene said...

I am so very sorry to hear about your pain. You are a good person to look after your father like that. Can I admit that I feel lucky because both my parents died quickly and quietly. They never wanted to be a burden on me and they never were.
Bless you, honey!

Shanster said...

I'm sure it's very difficult either way. Not like anyone really ever prepares you for the situation... there is no "As Your Parents Age 101" course or anything. Thanks for the good thoughts and bless you right back!

Kelley said...

Someone should teach the "as your parents age 101" class!!!!

You need to write a letter to Dennis... and maybe get on line and see if there is a rating system out there so you can let other people know he is great!!! If only all of us could find a Dennis when we need it!!!

Shanster said...

Oh I plan to send him something when I send the contract back and yes, I will be singing the praises for a long time for that funeral home!!! I didn't think of that but I'll look on line to see if there isn't some "consumer reports" type o' rating for funeral homes.

Heck - while I'm at it, maybe I'll make MY funeral arrangements thru this guy!

Kelley said...

HA!HA!HA! He IS good if he is making you want to make YOUR funeral arrangments. : )