Last week, or perhaps the week before, my dad was telling me about his “Five Wishes.” This is a plan for what he does and doesn’t want when he is dying. He told me about it and then told me to not tell my oldest brother Dave. Say what? A decade ago, my parent’s will was straight-forward: Dave and I would sell their house and divide up the proceeds amongst us four kids. The assumption was a normal one: the parents die before the children.
Now it is a different story. All three brothers have very serious health issues. One is dying in Illinois from cancer. Anyhow, I digress. Why wouldn’t Dad want Dave in on his “Five Wishes”? Because Dad no longer assumes Dave will outlive him. Dad watches Dave eat a terrible diet, smoke cigars, and continually drink beer, despite having had a heart attack. Is something a secret if the person the information is being withheld from is not likely to live long enough for the info to be relevant to them?
Bob is coming to Michigan on July fourth for a Tiger game and a visit. These get-togethers are quite the undertaking for Dave and Celeste. Dave is a master griller. Wings, burgers, whatever, it is all amazing. Celeste spends all her time cooking and trying to make everyone happy.
It hit me yesterday. There may not a lot more of these get-togethers. Bob told Dave that he couldn’t drink even one beer and Dave was flabbergasted. The boys have all outlived their father. Dave might live a few more years, but that is not guaranteed, given the total lack of behavioral change in him. Who is going to grill? Dave is the center of that universe.
Probably a year ago, I wondered out loud to my parents what Celeste will do once Dave is gone and MaKayla and her brood move out. My parents acted like I was talking about something that might happen thirty years from now. Why is Cindy so morbid? Guess what? MaKayla and her family have rented an apartment starting in August. She is moving out soon. And McKyle lives on campus at MSU. When Dave has another heart attack, that whole world could implode. Instantly.
A couple years ago, the boys’ health seemed OK. Not great, but OK. Everything has happened so quickly that I feel disoriented.
I once heard that addiction is creating a fantasy world and then trying to live there. That sounds about right. Denial is a fine place to set up a tent while you process some trauma, but it is a poor place to put a foundation of a whole world. And that is precisely what they have done.
I told Celeste that she may want something non-alcoholic to offer Bob. She was truly confused. Apparently her repertoire of non-alcoholic beverages is nil. I usually drink water or coffee. I’m not there for the beverages.
Part of my grief over Barry’s passing is that the whole world we inhabited when we got married is gone. Most of the restaurants are gone. Barry outlived most of his friends and both of his original sponsors.
When I got married, I wasn’t even aware of my subconscious hopes and dreams. They were all unknown assumptions. After so many hopes and dreams not coming true, those, too, are dying. I feel like I have lost everything. There is no going back and I don’t see a forward.
I feel like my parents are now acknowledging that I will likely be the only heir at all. Dad doesn’t want to upset Dave. Why upset someone who will not likely live long enough to even be part of the equation? The boys’ lifestyle choices are coming home to roost. It’s kind of like watching a car crash in slow motion.
I’m just trying to enjoy the wings and the few get-togethers we have left.