On seeing what we want to see

My mind feels like a library card catalog, stuffed to the brim with index cards. Funny, that’s an image I used in a short story I wrote several years ago. So many of my stories feature a broken old woman, crazy and lost. She sorts and stacks, folds and files. And a man who is powerless and under her control. A man who stays silent. A man who dies.

illusionApparently, my subconscious knew this was coming for quite some time. I just didn’t want to believe it. So I exorcised those demons in the form of fiction. Where I could control them. Where I had a say. Where I could leave the tragic ending on a positive note.

Unfortunately, fiction is not real life. Life isn’t something you can control or micromanage. My mom and people like her try though. Oh lord, does she try!

And I have a habit of seeing only what I want to see. Matt reminds me the weeks before my dad’s passing were not a time for being vague and my dad was being very vague in terms of his health. Every visit was canceled and I hadn’t seen him in person in months. I actually can’t remember the last time I saw him before rushing over to the house after his fall just after the first of the year. I think it was just after September’s birthday and he only came to the door for a minute. He had an upset stomach so couldn’t sit out on the porch to see us. I didn’t think too much of this because his heart medication always caused him some level of nausea since back in 2008, especially if he didn’t eat at the right time or ate the wrong thing.

I told him to make doctor’s appointments and he did. But then he wouldn’t go to them. He’d cancel at the last minute. This was the story all the way through to December when he had an appointment on New Year’s Eve. He’d told me about this appointment a few days before so I made sure to call him that day to see how it went. I said, “So, how’d it go?”

And he sighed and said, “Oh, I put it off.”

“Dad!” I said, “You need to go to the doctor!”

And he sighed again and said, “Well, I kind of can’t now.”

And I didn’t understand what he meant. I thought he meant that day. I thought he meant it in the same way he was always limiting himself in the previous few years. Just like he had been having some trouble walking–walking quick, any way–because he was so sedentary. He literally sat all day. For years. So whenever he said he couldn’t do something I took it to mean “I don’t want to do it.”

And maybe I didn’t listen because I didn’t want to face the possibility that he might be dying. We see what we want to, after all. We are our own greatest deceivers. After all, no one can lie to me and make me believe it like I can.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

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4 thoughts on “On seeing what we want to see

  1. hi. my mom is a hoarder too. and my father died, a terrible death in her house and under her “care”.
    i felt terrible about what happened … for 20 years.
    now i live with The Hoarder, she has dementia, but some things are still the same dementia actually makes her easier to live with because she forgets about the hoard sometimes.
    i still feel bad about my dad, but not that he died.
    I know now that death was the only way out for him.
    and it was better than Life with a Hoarder had been.

    1. That sounds so familiar. Thank you for commenting. I’m sorry you’ve gone through this. Hoarding and the disease that causes it creates so much more than a physical mess. My dad wasted away in my mom’s hoard. It’s terrible to think about but part of me agrees with you. Like your father, mine saw no other life outside of living in the midst of it. At least there is peace now.

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