Saturday night, on the way home from our double date with Ruth and Jerry, The D told me he wanted to go to church the next morning.
Sure enough, he was up bright and early, and I heard him in the shower. I knew that he hadn't forgotten. I didn't feel like going, but knew I didn't have a choice. I drug myself out of bed and got a cup of coffee and went to the living room to read the paper. It was only 8:30 and church was at 10:30 so I figured I had 45 minutes or so before I had to jump in the shower. I was happily ensconced on the sofa with my coffee, paper and CBS Sunday Morning on TV. Daddy watches it every week and I've gotten hooked. He appeared in the living room, dressed in a cornflower blue shirt with a perfectly coordinated tie and his suit pants and dress shoes. He looked nice. I told him so. I could smell Old Spice. Daph had gotten him a new bottle for Christmas.
He sat in his recliner and looked at his watch. When he wants to go somewhere, he is sitting on ready and doesn't like to wait. I was prepared for him to ask me if I was going to get ready, but he didn't. He kept checking his watch in a very obvious way, but he didn't say anything. I guess he could sense that I wasn't in the best mood.
At 9:30, the show was over and I retreated to my bedroom. I was dressed and ready in plenty of time. And we headed off to church.
When we got there, everyone was so happy to see The D. They were sweet to me, too. We've only been once since Mother died. A week or so before Christmas. The D said it was after Christmas and I said it was before, and reminded him that we'd sang Christmas carols and there were poinsettias, but he said, no, it was January. I didn't argue.
The pastor gave me a bear hug. He'd been through the whole ordeal at the hospital and funeral and saw the unbelieveable family dysfunction first hand. During the visitation, when I was with Daddy in the emergency room, he came to see us. This was right after my evil ex-sister had burst into the exam room. I told her to leave. She grabbed me by the throat, threw me across the room and started screaming threats at me. The nurse was in the room and quickly escorted us out and called security. I was stunned. I couldn't even react. My only concern was that she'd done it in front of Daddy, who was lying on the bed with his blood pressure close to stroke level. The evil one was shouting that I wasn't going to keep her from "her daddy". Strangely, she was suddenly so close to him. Odd, since she'd never had a kind word to say about him. Also odd since she's made no attempt to call or see him in the four months since.
The nurse said, "I'll take care of this." She asked her name, went into his room, came back out and said, "He wants Carol. You need to leave."
It just so happened that the police were there - they'd been handling a case in the adjacent room. She twisted this into one of her patented lies. The whole family believed that I'd called the police. The truth is that I asked about filing a police report to document what had happened in case she did something else, but they told me since she was related to me, it was domestic assault. Much more serious than simple assault, it turns out. If I filed a report, the police in her home state would have to arrest her and extradite her to dreaded 201 Poplar and she'd have to appear before a judge there. I couldn't bring myself to do that, but I've imagined it a hundred times since. You can be sure, if the tables were turned, my ass would've been sitting in that jail.
But see, it isn't just that I've taken the high road. I think it's that when something is bothering me, I just say it. And since I was calling the shots because my parents had assigned me legal responsibility for everything, she didn't tangle with me. Until she couldn't stand not being in control. That's when she exploded in rage. I suppose it was easier to be furious with me than to experience grief that must've been so complicated by the strained relationship she'd had with her mother.
With all my foibles and flaws, I'm blessed with the gift of being able to speak my mind when something's bothering me, and then let it go. Forget about it, even. But maybe that's just my poor memory. She, on the other hand, has the uncanny ability to remember every slight (real or imagined) she's ever suffered. For example, a good five years after one of our cousins married, she told me that she'd never gotten a thank you note. Called our cousin white trash. Seriously. Like choking your sister in a public place is proper, genteel behavior.
When I started this blog, I wanted it to be light-hearted and fun. Just a way to laugh about my crazy adventures as I navigate this whole role-reversal thing. It's turned into much more for me. Somehow, I've been able to bare my soul. And that's been immensely therapeutic. When I started this exercise, I was fearful. Afraid that somehow, she'd find out about it and use it against me. That my colorful language, beer drinking and general irreverance could be construed as making me unfit to care for my father. She'd been adamant that I put him in assisted living. I'd told her that I'd promised mother he'd live with me. She kept bring it up and finally I told her I wasn't going to change my mind and I wasn't going to discuss it anymore. That was probably a turning point. She wasn't in control. That kills her. I don't get off on being in control, but I am. It's a huge responsibility. I can't tell you how many times I've wished my brother were alive. He would've been the one in my shoes. He took such good care of my parents. So in addition to grieving the loss of my mother, it feels like my brother died four months ago instead of twelve years. I miss him so desperately. He would've handled this. He would've put her in her place. He always protected me.
Back to my fear of the evil sister. I worried she would sue me for libel. Take me to court and challenge my fitness to take care of The D. Accuse me of taking his money. With her, nothing is outside the realm of possibility.
So I've debated over and over how open I want to be. And whether I should try to fictionalize this somehow. I've gotten differing advice from friends. One was concerned that if one of my clients read this, I could lose their work. My answer to that is that this is personal, not professional. I'm not going to tell them about it, obviously, but if the work I do for them isn't what they value most, so be it. In the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, "I yam what I yam."
So, as for the title of this post. I'm learning to let go of my fear. The loathing will be much harder. One of these days, I hope the anger, hurt and resentment I feel will be transformed to apathy. To IDGAF. I'll never be able to love her again, but hopefully, I won't loathe her. In the sermon, the pastor said it's not possible for love to exist without trust. I've thought so much about that. I think it's true. He also talked about how love bears all things. He looked at me, and said there were families in our church who are experiencing the reversal of roles, where children were beginning to care for their parents. Needless to say, the tears spilled out. I was glad The D was in the row behind me so he wouldn't see me cry. There was only one spot available on his and mother's regular pew, so I was on the one in front of it.
Later that afternoon, Daph told me that The D had told her something at lunch Saturday. It was a small thing, but it made me think he didn't trust me somehow. So I decided to talk to him about it. It was hard to do, but I needed to be sure it was resolved. Naturally, it was a misunderstanding and nothing at all like I had imagined. I was so reassured. I decided to talk to him about his oldest daughter. I asked if he remembered what happened at the emergency room. He did. I told him that I hadn't talked to him about what had happened after that, but I wanted to tell him. I explained about the lies, and how she had turned his family against me. How when they call to talk to him, they never ask me how I'm doing, just say they want to talk to him. He told me not to worry. That all he cared about was me and Daph. I was surprised by that. I told him that I never want to come between him and the rest of his family. Once again, he told me not to worry. I couldn't help crying. Hard. I haven't cried in front of The D before now. I've been so focused on protecting him.
A strange thing happened. For a few minutes, he was my father and I was his little girl. I felt loved and protected.
And the fear was gone.
Welcome to my world!
My life's been crazy since my Daddy moved in with me immediately after my mother's death in October 2010. My one and only kiddo headed to college at Carolina at the end of August. So...I lived on my own, for the first time in my life, for a total of a blissful six weeks. Then, I started the parenting gig with my dad. He's a combination of a grouchy old man, a surly teenager and a temperamental toddler. Needless to say, I get very close to the brink of insanity sometimes. I get through life by finding the humor in difficult circumstances. And for some reason, I wind up in the weirdest situations. I couldn't make this stuff up. So I wind up having lots and lots crazy adventures which make great stories to share with my friends. Writing about my life is so therapeutic. My ramblings range from funny to sad to angry (full of cuss words) to sweet. While my focus is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a parent to my Daddy, I have lots of random, totally unrelated posts. Whatever's on my mind. I love to make people laugh, and I'm happy to think my readers will get my strange sense of humor. And maybe, people who are in my situation will be encouraged. That's all I can hope for...