Archive by Author | cdhoagpurple

So Many Things Hard to Watch

My family is dysfunctional. Not evil or ill-intention-ed. But perhaps not all that bright.

First, there is my mom. Kind and sweet, just wanting everyone to get along. Her sons are in poor health. My brother Mike has cancer. My dad showed me a picture of Mike on his phone probably a month ago. I was aghast. Mike has these sunken eyes with huge dark circles around them. And he has a large lump slightly above and between his eyebrows. I seriously doubt he will survive the summer. Anyhow, I was talking about that picture and Ma acted surprised, like she had seen the picture and that I was simply mistaken. I told her to look at the picture as soon as Dad got back with the pizza. She did and acted like it was the first time she had seen the lump in the picture. WTF? I told her that I am not a doctor and cannot say conclusively that the lump is a tumor, but, whatever it is, it is not good. Barry had cancer. I know a little bit about tumors. The point is that a person cannot connect the dots if they are incapable of actually seeing the dots.

Then there is my niece’s giant baby. This baby is very happy–and obese. He is over a year old and has zero interest in so much as crawling. The term for this is “developmentally delayed.” He is falling further behind by the day. I love how content this boy is.We should all be as happy as he is. But they are setting him up for a life of ridicule and failure.  have never seen thighs so large on a baby.

Then there is my brother Dave. I always thought he was the smartest of the three brothers, but, if that is true, my family is in sad intellectual shape. He had a heart attack a couple years ago. He had a few arteries scraped out and now wrongly assumes that that gives him a new lease on life and that he can go back to eating  the high-saturated-fat diet he has consumed for years. And–drum roll–he still drinks and smokes cigars. He actually lit one in front of me. Don’t get me wrong: I am suicidal sometimes, but at least I am honest about it. He is committing suicide with every puff and swig and taking no responsibility for it.

None of this is the scary part. Dave’s son drinks alcohol at home and is not 21. That makes Dave and Celeste liable for anything their son does after he drinks. The boy attends MSU, a party school if ever there was one. Let me paint a picture. The boy has a beer. He is not drink by any definition. But he is driving to the local grocery store, someone runs out in front of him, the person is struck, and is injured or killed. The cops do a breathalyzer and he blows a .05. Not legally drunk, but, being under 21, it should be a .00. The victim’s family finds out about Dave and Celeste providing alcohol to someone underage and sue and win. That big house they live in–gone to pay the judgment and legal fees.

You say that is far-fetched and you would be right, except for one little detail: this is how Dave and Celeste got the big house they live in now. Their oldest daughter, Melissa, was killed by a drunk driver. The family of the drunk driver had money. Dave sued and won and that has provided the financial security they have today. Put the shoe on the other foot. The victim’s family could say, “This won’t bring our child back, but it will provide for the future. I’m digging into their deep pockets.” Dave and Celeste’s financial security could be gone in a heart beat.

I get so frustrated with my family because they never learn. It frightens the crap out of me. It is so painful to watch people grow older, but not any wiser, age but not mature.

I want to be there for Ma, but I’m not sure if I can be. I probably come off as a judgmental bitch, but I will not forsake common sense just to go along and get along. She is going to watch her kids die and it will devastate her. What can I say? What do you say when you watch your family make the same mistakes decade after decade after decade? This is why I stay away. I really am not interested in hurting anyone, but I am also not terribly interested in watching a completely preventable train wreck. My strategy in life has always been simple: when I see a train coming, I give one warning, and then I get my own ass off the tracks. But I gave up saying anything a long time ago. I mistakenly believed they were capable of learning and maturing. I try to learn from my mistakes. But part of that effort is to hang around other learning and growing people. And that clearly does not include my family of origin, no matter how much I wish it did.

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Full Circle

How on earth did this happen?

Lately, I’ve seen the Time Life commercial about the CMA awards. The words that run through my head are Taylor Swift’s, “When you’re fifteen…”

I’ve been ridiculously depressed lately. It feels like it will last forever. I can’t hink of a way out. I feel trapped. It’s like absolutely everything in my life has a shameful or anger-inducing memory attached to it. Good lord. When did I last feel like this?

When I was fifteen. Back then, when I was suicidal, feeling pretty much like I do now, it was summertime and hot. I’ve been dreading summer for some unknown reason. Then it hit me: this is a rerun of 36 years ago.

What have I done in the last 36 years? Marriage, school, some work, responsibilities…So many dashed hopes and dreams… So much drama. Smoke and mirrors. Pomp and circumstance. Signifying nothing.

Religious activities. Coming back to atheism as my home. Believing in something, just not the god of the bible.

Was Barry even real? Twenty-nine years of  marriage and yet, somehow, without a divorce, I am single.

I went for a tarot card reading this week. It was fascinating. I am going to be  unpacking the meaning for the next year. One thing Dawne said was that I am about to be on an upswing. I hope this is not a 36-year cycle. I have no interest whatsoever in hanging around till I am 87. She told me to spend the next year just be-ing. She was very reassuring, which is the main take-away I had. That is enough for now.

Shaped by Death

I blog when I find a theme consistently hitting me over the head and the most recent one to do so is DEATH. I’m really not trying to be dramatic. I would love to avoid what’s happening. Oh well.

I have three brothers. The oldest one has had a heart attack, but had some arteries cleaned out and now falsely believes he can go back to eating whatever he wants while continuing to smoke and drink. He has learned nothing. The next oldest brother has cancer and his children have told my parents that he has one more treatment and then will be put on hospice. The youngest brother has some strange new clotting abnormality along with the COPD he has had for years.

First the oldest one had the heart attack and I assumed he would die first. Then the middle one got cancer and so I thought he might go first. Then the youngest went to the emergency room with a blocked artery between his spleen and liver and I thought he might go first.

This past Sunday was Easter. Ma wasn’t exactly feeling like celebrating. Who could blame her?

I don’t feel like killing myself right now, but I have decided to give myself the option later. I will attempt to purchase a gun in the next couple months. But I can’t imagine the kind of emotional mess Ma would be in if she lost a child or two or three all within a year. Perhaps I will wait until after she dies. Then my death would be a reunion with her and Barry.

I am the first one in my family to be widowed. I understand these end-of-life issues better than my family members. Looking at the picture of the middle brother, I am a little surprised he is still alive.

It is hard to contemplate what kind of future I want when everything is so iffy. Why is everything happening all at once?

My Frustration with Barry’s Death

The latest edition of Tricycle magazine has an article entitled “A Good Enough Death” that is really well-written. It shares the story of a guy with cancer that is cared for by his sisters and an ex-girlfriend.

The difference between this guy’s caretakers and myself was that I did not know I was watching the dying process. I was watching every sign and symptom and taking each and every occurrence as something I would have to deal with in the long-term. I did not understand the significance of what I was witnessing.

Nine days before Barry died, I had taken him to the doctor;s office. His behavior had changed radically in the previous month. I asked the physician’s assistant, “When do I call hospice?” She poo-pooed my question with, “That could be month’s from now.” She then enrolled Barry in a program for people that don’t qualify for hospice. I believed her and took her at her word.

He stopped eating that weekend. He didn’t have an extra ounce of fat on him, but I still thought he could live another couple of weeks. After the weekend, on Monday, I called the program and asked for someone to come out for an evaluation. They said they could send someone on Wednesday. He qualified for hospice on Wednesday, we got him onto hospice Thursday, and he was dead Friday.

The day he died, I was giving him morphine every hour. I called the hospice nurse because the home care worker said I needed to (due to the mottling on his feet) and because there was no way the morphine would last all weekend with me dosing him every hour. I needed a greater supply than the teeny container I had been given. The hospice nurse arrived and declared him dead within one minute of arrival. I may have given that last dose to a corpse.

Before the nurse arrived, I was wondering how and when to put him into a nursing home and how I would handle all the mental and physical breakdown I was witnessing. I didn’t think he would last six months, but I assumed he would survive the weekend.

I am so glad I told him I loved him and held his hand before the hospice nurse arrived. I even heard the death rattle and wondered if that’s what it was.

I was so clueless.

I was there for every little detail of Barry’s death, comprehending nothing. I did not understand the significance of anything I was witnessing. I don’t know if I was  fully present like I could have been.

The frustration comes from feeling misled. I was believing people that understood no more than I did, but spoke with the voice of authority. I accepted their assertions because I knew no better.

Being present is not a substitute for understanding what is occurring. I might have done things differently had I understood what was going on.

Is all of life like this? God knows I feel clueless much of the time. I continue to make plans. Are they meaningful on any level?

I have felt so stuck for so long. I don’t know what the cure is. I have believed such garbage in the past, especially religious rubbish. I now trust no one, including myself. I have been wrong. They have been wrong. We are all so painfully wrong. The only thing worse than not knowing is believing people who don’t know what they are talking about but pretend that they do. The emperor has no clothes. We are all naked.

Authority

I’ve been dealing with authority issues lately. Not in the sense of my having problems with authority figures, but in the sense of what is reality-based and what is not.

At work, we have several new managers. I have no problems with any of them in particular. However, one of my co-workers, the other day, told me that Manager A had told her to do “recovery” (making sure the dressing rooms were cleared out). Meanwhile, racks were coming out and I was putting the clothes away. Manager B comes up to me and asks if I had been getting any help with the racks. I said that, to my knowledge, my co-worker was supposed to be doing recovery. Problem? Manager B is unaware of Manager A’s orders. Communication problem. I talked the other day to Manager C about the incident and told her that there needs to be communication amongst management because I don’t want my co-worker fired for doing Manager A’s bidding and not Manager B’s. I have no power over any of this.

Later in the day, another co-worker was telling me that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have control over the House Democrats that she should. I said, “That’s not actually true…” I did not mean that she really does have control over the members of her party. My meaning was that it is simply not in her job description to have control over other House Dems. Adulthood does not work that way. The newly-elected members are not ultimately accountable to her; they are accountable to the voters that put them in office in the first place.Whether the voters want them to agree with Pelosi or disagree with her,that is what they will do. She knows it is beyond her control. Period.

I had general durable power of attorney over Barry. That’s about as much control over a human being as is possible. And I still respected his free will and choices as much as possible. I could have thrown him into a nursing home and did not.

The only times I have ever seen the kind of control my co-worker thinks Pelosi should exercise has been in various cult-like religious settings. When people fall in line with whatever a leader says, they have abdicated their adulthood. They are now children wearing grown-up clothes.

The reality is that authority is not pro-active; it is reactive. Authority figures can only impose consequences after someone does something against the rules. The boss can fire you.The parent can take away your X-Box.

Do Republicans seriously think Pelosi can get her members to fall in line with her? She is not the Dictator of the House, only the Speaker. That level of authoritarianism is exactly what scares me about them.

My conservative co-worker scares me a little. And amuses me even more. He is probably a good twenty years younger than I am. He is going to learn some very hard lessons. I’m glad I have no real relationship with him. I respect other people’s choices, whereas I don’t think he is capable of that.

We all have choices. We can all do whatever we want. And we all have the right to impose consequences on each other’s behavior. Most people understand the first idea and miss out on the second one completely. I guess these are lessons we all must learn the hard way.

I am Exhausted

Life is hard sometimes.

I haven’t been getting any of the jobs I have been applying for. Thank God for Goodwill. They really appreciate me. I just wished my job used some, any, of the skills I worked so hard to obtain.

I have stopped over-valuing my MBA. There are too many baristas out there with advanced degrees. Having the education without the real-world experience is a handicap to finding employment. People need to get the experience first and then, and only if their boss says “If you want a promotion, you need such-and-such a degree”, get the degree. Then they have both experience and education. They are good to go. The sky’s the limit.

My problem is that I got my degree and then spent the next six years taking care of Barry. The reality is that I will never be “the right fit” for a position because there will always be someone with more experience than I have.  This is why people put their loved ones in nursing homes: they have to get on with their own lives. They simply cannot put their lives on hold indefinitely.  People don’t go into nursing homes, generally, because their health takes a sudden downward turn. No. People go into nursing homes because their family members just can’t take care of them anymore. It’s too physically, emotionally, and career damaging to the caretakers. By the time someone goes into a nursing home, their health has usually been going downhill for years.

Reality: I should have put Barry into a nursing home a few years ago. But I would have felt guilty and he was so remarkably self-reliant for so long. And I would have had to sacrifice all savings for Medicaid and Medicare to pay for it. I truly thought I was doing the right thing. I was soooooooo wrong. And now I am paying the price. I truly feel like I am being punished for doing what I mistakenly thought was the right thing by the job market. I knew I was making a sacrifice but I did not fully understand the permanence of the sacrifice. He’s been dead over a year and the sacrifice is ongoing.

I even thought of ending myself. I may still do it eventually, but I am too exhausted to deal with it now. My car needs fixing. My apartment has bugs,  which I think might be termites. And the people at work genuinely appreciate me. I do not take that for granted. When that is no longer enough to keep me up and running, all bets are off the table. I live in a bad neighborhood and I live alone now. No one would blame me for getting a pistol for self-defense.

So many choices seem like “a good idea at the time.” Such famous last words.

Back from Florida

I feel like I am finally recovering from my first holidays without Barry.

The drama around here has been the weather, so cold that the Goodwill closed. Wow.

I have an interview at Davenport for a part-time proctor job this upcoming Wednesday. It got postponed from last week because of…you guessed it…the weather.

The lady without boundaries at work that wanted me to tell others what to do is gone. She got pneumonia and gave it to a co-worker. She never fully came back to work.

Reading “Journey of Souls” and “Destiny of Souls” has been very enlightening. They seem to integrate religion, science, and spirituality in a way that makes sense on so many levels. Things make so much more sense.

I don’t know about commitments, other than work. I want to keep my work commitments, but I feel vulnerable. I don’t know what to do. I need to know what I really want because anything I do needs to come from deep within. Nothing else is worthwhile.