Today a series of random things which I can not even recall in their entirety led me down a path of thought, while Paul was in the food store making use of the ATM. That seems like a silly detail I know but it is integral to my thought pattern or path or what ever you like to call it.
First though this is a warning. There are certain parts of my life I just don't talk about ever. Things you likely don't know unless you grew up with me or you are Paul. I know this is heartbreaking for me to write and I know that for many of my compassionate readers it might be equally hard to stomach so here is your chance to click on by this post. Also I ask that you save you don't judge my mother. She was in a terribly hard place and had suffered several stressful events. Ultimately she was trying to do what any parent would do, what was best for her kids. I do not harbor anger, so you shouldn't either.
In case for some strange reason you do not know about my father's illness, here is the short version, one day when I was 8 he went into a coma after being misdiagnosed by numerous Doctors. He was in that coma for 8 days suffering many mini strokes and I believe some hear failure. His survival was the first of its kind for the disease he was fighting. No one had survived past the coma. Note my shiny happy optomist here, this means our loss and his suffering lead to amazing medical progress. That means there is some little girl out there that still has her dad or mom. I digress, he had serious brain damage and had to relearn everything but speech. Half his body was was near paralysis and wouldn't ever recover fully. After a year of living in hospitals and rehab he came home on December the 23 just in time for Christmas. A glorious memory. Dale my youngest brother and I were excited out of our skin.
Eventually, with in a year or so, my dad was sent to live the remaining 9 years of his life in a nursing home. (He fell a lot and was violent from his medications.) Well many nursing homes, he got moved around a lot. We went to visit him about twice a year. Christmas and his birthday if we were lucky. Otherwise he stayed day in and day out in his room with his roommate waiting for the day he could come home.
Dale and I missed him like crazy. I spent my days planning how I would get a job and move him out of which ever nasty home he was in at the time. I would take care of him so he didn't have to be alone. When I started driving I went once a week to have dinner with him. I ended up spending a good portion of the money I made at my first job on food for him because he was always hungry. He was legally blind and barely had control of his hands at this point. They would serve him peas with a fork. I sobbed the night I saw that. Once a week I bought him things like Pizza, Subs, McDonalds, Ice Cream and his very favorite, Rodeo Cheeseburgers from BK. Until I moved away to college this was our ritual every week. That same year I took him Christmas shopping with my brother Dale. At the same shopping center I was waiting for Paul in today.
I started thinking about how everyone forgot my dad after two years. Everyone meaning all the adults around us. His family, his friends, his wife and step kids. They all stopped going to see him because it was simply too hard. I should say there were a handful that still visited occasionally as in a few times a year. I believe right until the end my one Uncle took him out a couple times a year. Anyhow, I thought of how everyday he woke up and was stuck in that place unable to go anywhere unable to live life. He had the mentality of a twelve year old but I know he missed terribly the outside world. I was overwhelmed thinking about this today. I was also angry. How could every one have just moved on? How could they let someone they loved so dearly just wither and die like that?
Like I said I dreamed of busting him out of there from the time I was little. I remember one time Dale riding his bike nearly 7 miles to go visit because no one would drive him. So when I got home today and was nearly in tears about how horrible that last ten years of my father's life must have been, I texted Dale. I knew if anyone understood what I was feeling he would and he did, and I think it is the most emotion we have exchanged in a long time. We both hate the way it ended. We were kids though and there wasn't much we could do, I think that is the only reason I can live with myself.
So to my dad where ever you are. I hope you know how much we hated that. How much we loved you and wanted you home. Probably as much as you loved us. We tried so hard to get you back. We understood you never meant to harm us or hurt us. I am so sorry everyone walked away and left you to live in that hell. Dale and I well we turned out alright. If nothing else it has made me the compassionate woman I am today. Your suffering taught me how to feel and how to do what I could. I firmly believe that there are less people suffering in the world because of what I witnessed. It has stayed with me and inspired me to ease suffering in anyway I can. It has helped me to see the other side and put myself in the others shoes. I know this didn't make your suffering any less. Part of me hopes that you didn't know what was going on but in my heart I know you did. I was just a kid and you know that. I am sorry Dad that you had to live like that and die like that. We think of you often.
I don't know what was best for us, I think my mom made a mistake but I also understand what she was trying to protect us from. She wanted us to have normal childhoods. At least I have Dale, at least cancer didn't take him away from me. Honestly even though he is so far away on the "left" coast, he is the only one who can fully understand this.
If you have made it this far, thanks for sharing in the journey.