On growing a backbone at the wrong time

I get quite a bit of traffic to this blog from various hoarding blogs and websites, so I apologize to those readers for deviating from that subject matter for a bit. I suppose it’s all related. Still, I imagine I’ll be blogging about grief and guilt for some time. Bear with me.

86509233_76ae55537cIt looks very much so like my dad knew he had heart failure at the end of 2012. Whether he found this out at a routine doctor’s appointment, I don’t know. What I do know is that he kept that information to himself. And while I feel less guilty for not alerting him to his symptoms this past December (because it seems he already knew), I feel guilty for pushing him so much all the time.

I remember back in April 2012, he ventured out of the house with Matt and I to co-sign on a loan to refinance Matt’s car. I was almost 4 months pregnant and the auto loan refinancing was the only way we were going to able to afford the super high delivery costs. I had insurance, too, but it was really crappy. Delivery at a hospital was going to be $3000 (not including doctor’s visits–which always turned out to cost at least $150 each–, tests, ultrasounds, etc). The birth center fee was around $6000 and included everything. But I digress.

We were going to initially do a standard loan. My dad was going to co-sign to help us out. But he talked to my mom and she said flat out no. She said they had too much debt already. My dad was the one that had to tell me this (I could hear her whispering in the background). I was really upset. We were desperate. Add pregnancy hormones on top of all that stress and I was near tears.

About a week later, we figured out that a car refinancing would work because it was a solid piece of collateral and wouldn’t add to my parent’s debt. So I totally freaked out for no reason. And I’m relaying all of this to provide context, by the way.

So, we pick up my dad and he was walking pretty slow. I hadn’t seen him outside of the house in real clothes in a while–not since our wedding in Jan. 2010. Every time we went over there to visit, my mom would usher us into his bedroom and he’d be there in his pajamas or sweats and a robe. He’d started letting his beard grow out by then. His hair was longer.

But he’d shaven and trimmed his hair for the venture. It was nice to see him out of the house. We got to the bank and he was shuffling along (I guess this is one of the first signs of heart failure?). We did all the paperwork and took him back home. I remember feeling uncomfortable. Like I didn’t know what to say to him. I was angry at him, even then. He was giving up on life and it frustrated me so much because it just didn’t have to be that way. So instead of being compassionate and considerate, I got angry. I just wasn’t my usual self around him and that makes me really sad now.

We did the whole bank thing and dropped him off back home. I didn’t even offer him lunch. Not that we could have afforded it at that moment (obviously, we needed a loan to pay for our baby lol), but still. It’s the simple things that show you care and I feel like I was really not being kind to him. And I felt like I was being ungrateful, even in the moment. I was totally grateful for the help with the loan but I could barely express any kind of gratitude because being around him made me so sad. I guess what I’m saying is I’d much rather have been able to go in the house (a normal house) and spend time with my dad listening to music and doing what we always did than get anything related to money. Especially after September was born, I wanted my dad to know her so badly. But it was such a pain in the ass to bring the baby over to just sit on the porch. During winter, no less. I could have brought her inside, yes, but it was smokey. And lord knows what else was floating around in the air (they never opened windows). And I’d put my foot down with my mom on that subject already.

Just a few months before I told my parents I wasn’t coming in the house anymore because of the smoke. I was pregnant after all. But I thought she would have the decency to smoke outside so her pregnant daughter could come in. That’s what I thought would happen. I never thought we’d actually need to have visits on the porch because she couldn’t do that one thing for me. Or that those visits would become so inconvenient because she had to get out the chairs for them to happen that they’d be cancelled more often than not.

I know I was angry because my dad wouldn’t fight against my mom. There was a good 3 1/2 years of “giving up” going on before this point in time. And I know I was angry because he wasn’t taking care of himself. But it never even occurred to me that he couldn’t. I always thought it was a choice he made. That he chose to eat bad food and he chose not to exercise. Even in April 2012, I thought he could still get some of his old vigor back if he’d just get out of that damned room once in a while, get some fresh air, and go for a walk. There were years of me begging him to do just that that preceded this after his heart attack in 2008.  In every phone call I told him to go for a little walk. At first, I told him to go around the block. Then as he got more sedentary, I reeled in my requests. It became, “walk around half the block,” then “to the end of the block,” then “around the front yard.” Till finally, this past year, I just asked him to go outside and sit on the bench on the front porch.  I just wanted him to get out of that smoked-in toxic envrionment.

He would tell me sometimes that he couldn’t get around like he used to and that made me angry, too. It all stemmed back to when he gave up in the first place. I never once considered he might be very unwell. Or just getting old. I never once thought he wouldn’t get better.

And I swear, sometimes, for a smart person, I can be really stupid.

Even in the convalescent home, I thought he was going to get better. I knew his time was going to be limited from then on, but I thought he’d recover some. I thought he’d be able to walk. I thought he’d be able to better manage his symptoms. And I know part of this is due to the fact I wasn’t given all the information but still. I feel like I should have known. I should have been more empathetic. I should have recognized that he was old. But I never once thought of him that way. He wasn’t old. He was just my dad.

And in an effort to stand up to my mother, to no longer do things by her twisted, weird rules, my dad suffered.

Image source: JR_Paris


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