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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Un-Happy Birthday

I spent most of my birthday this year getting ready for an emergency trip to see my 82 year-old father in California, in the hospital.  My siblings call the night before, after spending the entire night in the emergency room with him, with high blood pressure, high-fever and disorientation.  He's on oxygen, his fever is showing no signs of breaking, the blood pressure is through the roof.  Naturally, they are concerned that at his age, and being a diabetic, that anything could happen, a stroke, heart-attack, or even the inevitable.

Not such a happy birthday, which is kind of par for the course the last few years.  There is usually something about my birthday that makes Red act out.  This year Blue is full of anxiety, and for some reason tells me, "You know...it's not all about you today.  You're not the only person on earth with a birthday on April 6th."  Yeah...really nice.

Instead of disappearing for the day, which I desperately want to do, I spend the day with Red, while dad spends the day with Blue.  We do errands, and a little shopping.  He just can't seem to help himself from getting into the looping conversations about all the things we should be doing for him...which ends up making me sorry I chose to take him with me, instead of leaving him at home.

Hubby and I are able to sneak away to have cocktails and appetizers that night.  A couple of martinis, appetizers and creme brulee helps ease my pain.

I make it in to Los Angeles the following day.  My dad is sitting up in the bed by now.  The fever is broken, the blood pressure is down.  He is refusing to lay down, giving the nurses a hard time and talking non-stop.  He is in his glory I think, being surrounded by most of his children.  There are 5 of us in total.  He makes me laugh with his warped sense of humor.  Yep...that's where I get it from.

But as I listen to him talk, I realize that he has this sense of entitlement.  He thinks that the world owes him something.  He has little to no respect for women and his favorite way of communication is using foul, offensive language.  I'm used to it.  Sometimes, I check him on it.  Sometimes, I laugh at it.  I cringe at the least possibility that I will be like him when I get older.  I don't think I will go all the way there.

My dad has no religious upbringing.  He has told my children, there is no God, which really confused them.  Thanks to my mom, I was raised in Christianity. I try to follow the example of Christ.  I do treat people with respect.  I feel so awful for the nurses and staff who are trying their best to take care of him.  Talking to him about being nice and respectful is futile at this point.  His will be 83 years-old soon.  He's not about to change, for the better.

The funny thing is, when he gets to talking in circles, not connecting thoughts, and having this odd-outlook on the world... I don't loose it, like my sister does.  She gets so frustrated with him.  I'm pretty used to crazy talk.  I live with it everyday.  I gently let him know how I feel and what I think is inappropriate and what I do not appreciate.

The better my dad gets each day...the filthier the mouth.  I fear for the day when he needs others...strangers, nurses, health-workers to take care of him.  When we can not be there to ensure his daily care and he feels that he can say anything and still be served well.

Life is one endless stream of taking care of loved ones.  Children, Mothers, Fathers, Husbands.  Good thing I have my happy pills and the occasional glass of wine.  And by occasional I mean --nightly!