Sunday, May 9, 2010

Parental Struggles

The past 3 years have been very difficult for me in regards to having a relationship with my dad. Many can tell you that, even growing up, my dad and I fought like cats and dogs. This dynamic has not changed much, apparently.

Three years ago, when my mom was really sick, it was extremely stressful for me and my sister, Erika because we are the executors of our parents wills and we have a responsibility to make sure they are well taken care of. I, for God's own reason, happened to be there when my mom got horrifically sick for the first time after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. There was the time my mom and I were waiting for everyone to meet us at Buca di Beppo's and she got so hypoglycemic that the color ran out of her usually blue eyes and she slumped over and was unresponsive. It reminded me of the scene in Steel Magnolia's when Julia Roberts' character goes into a diabetic fit. After the whole ordeal was over and my mom had something to eat and the color in her cheeks and her eyes had returned, I remained catatonic while everyone ate their dinner. That was the first time I realized my mom didn't have much time left.

I drove my mom to a regular doctor's appointment, not realizing she had been sick with a bad flu for days. After the appointment she continued to get sick and I had to take her straight to the ER to get treated. Thank the Lord the nearest hospital was just down the street! There was also the time that my mom was hospitalized for pneumonia and the doctor's discovered that her lung cancer had spread to her brain. This was a week before my mom and I went on the Hawaiian cruise she had wanted and was determined to go on. All the while I was afraid out of my mind that she would pass away while we were traveling. She didn't however, but the fear haunted me as my mom wasn't herself most of the time and it turned out she did get sick--her blood pressure dipped really low--that she was in the cabin a good amount of the time.

Suffice to say, I was traumatized. So, going back to the matter at hand. The last 3 years has been difficult for me because I am the only executor close by. I try to visit my dad at least every month. Originally, I would go more often, but I could tell that my dad didn't really want me there. No matter what I said or didn't say, he felt that I was intruding on his life. So, I came by less often.

The last visit I gave him was mainly due to my sister, Samara, calling me to tell me that my dad wasn't answering his phone and he also didn't call her on her birthday which he did every year (I'm pretty sure my dad has no idea when my birthday is and not only that, I am the only one in the family that does not receive a gift, although it's not the gift that matters). Anyway, I happened to be going to the same town to visit my niece who had just had a baby. I came by and he was there sitting on the couch, seemingly fine.

I invited him to come with me to see his great-grand daughter. It was evident that he has declined quite a bit. He's lost at least 15 lbs and he had a hard time keeping his balance. Even Todd noticed and tried to give my dad pointers on how to hold his cane (which he didn't listen to).

I realized that night that it is difficult for me to separate my fear of going through the same thing with my dad that I had to go through with my dad. I tried to get my dad to go to the doctor but he just got upset at me and lied and said he had an appointment in two weeks.

I called Erika because I was upset but I didn't talk to her until the next day. She called my dad and of course he wants to be independent (which I want too). Well, Erika checked and found out that Dad didn't have an appointment and he hasn't been to the doctor in 5 months. He is supposed to go back every 3 for a med check, so basically he hasn't been taking his medications as he should.

Erika decided to drive down from Washington to check on Dad since I am so ineffective (my words, not hers!). She is worried and she knows how to handle him better than I can. She arrived on Saturday, but we decided to go see my dad on Sunday. I wanted to apologize and let him know that I only want his good health and independence and to explain how I was feeling. It didn't go so well.

I apologized and explained how I was feeling and my dad got irate and said, "Why should I worry about what you are worrying about. I have enough to think about." He basically didn't want to concern himself with me at all. Then he said I was repetitive! I had talked to him about this one other time (I had gotten really upset about a month ago). I couldn't believe he was accusing me of being repetitive, so I told him so--he is the one that repeats himself every time I visit and I have never said anything.

I then told him that he wouldn't have to worry about what I was thinking because I wouldn't "bother" him by coming over. I decided that I had endured a lot stress and frustration over the years (more than just this one situation) and it is obviously not appreciated. My dad doesn't want me around or if he did he has no way of showing it...he just knows how to show me contempt and how to disregard my feelings. I have had enough of that this last year from plenty of other poeple and I just can't surround myself with that kind of negativity.

Even though I know it's right for my emotional health, I feel it's not really a "me" thing to write people off like that. I've had to distance myself from people who have hurt me to perserve myself and even though I know it's right for me, that doesn't mean I don't want a relationship but I know it just causes more pain.


Ginny said...

I'm so sorry about these family issues, Alexis. Your dad does look like he's really declined. I am praying for you (and for him). This verse just came to my mind: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.." Isaiah 49:15-16 I think this verse can apply to earthly fathers, too. I'm so thankful that we have a perfect heavenly Father who loves us more than we can ever imagine. You are engraved on the palm of His hand.

I love you!!

Lexykins said...

Thanks, Ginny! I appreciate you and the verse you wrote for me. It helps, it really does. :)