This title bullshit

Let’s talk about ME some more.

One of the many reasons I quit writing was the relationship between me and my parents. No matter what I’ve written in the past, please remember they were reading. Now that they’re not, news for you: they were and are just terrible. I see people on Facebook saying wonderful things about their parents, mourning their deaths, wishing them happy birthday, suffering from not seeing them after long Covid-induced periods of time, hell, even my co-worker Penny whose mom lives in a facility, wistfully said to me, “I haven’t held her hand in 10 months.” My reaction was a private eye-roll but also an inner “What is wrong with me?”

Okay, so be prepared or trigger warning or whatever, but this is going to be a vomitorious mess to talk about. My dad, who made funny comments on my old blog, and delighted many of my readers, was doing that for attention. He always wanted to do writing that affected people and gave him praise and when he failed, he decided to try to latch on to my writing. My dad, of the funny comments, is now in a memory-care facility. He is not well. He gets confused and thinks “teenagers” come into his room at night and steal his things. He insists he was held captive in the basement of the KU Medical Center by “thugs.” He lives in Colorado (narrator: he does not live in Colorado). My mother is his mother and I am my mother and Holly is me. He makes incredibly inappropriate comments to female aides who help him dress and shower. They call me and tell me these things in indignant tones and I ask them what the hell I’m supposed to do? He can’t be the first guy with dementia to act like that. I don’t know! Don’t ask me!

We found out due to his disappearing filter than he had multiple affairs while married to my mom and that’s hard to deal with. I also think he was a lecher. I remember he often said things to me that were weird in that way, and ugh. My mother just laughs. She laughs about everything. “HAHA your father told the nurse she had a nice ass today while she was checking his blood sugar HAHA.” She always does that when uncomfortable. I hate it.

I have a strong memory of an incident that happened to me when I was a little girl. It was sexual in nature and I think about it almost daily. And I think it was him.

So anyhow, this is fun, remember when I was funny?

So I don’t go see him unless I absolutely have to. I don’t want to see him. My mother goes everyday and that should be enough for him. He was not a good parent so damned if I’m going to try to be a “good” daughter. I have shame about this, but so be it.

My mother is a narcissist. I guess I didn’t identify it until these last few years. She never considered helping my dad when he went bad. He took a very serious fall, which sped up his dementia so much I was amazed. She was angry that the ambulance took him to the best neurotrauma center in the city. She didn’t want to drive there; it was “across town” (it is 5 miles from her house). She refused to go with him to a retirement apartment where he could get his blood sugar and insulin taken care of. (He lost the ability to manage his diabetes) She continues to prioritize her social activities and her job in a “band” over anything related to him or me. From the waiting room in the ER trauma center, she called a friend to tell her she didn’t think she’d be at poker the next day.

Now I know it’s a dichotomy for me to be mad at one parent for neglecting the other parent whom I also dislike, but I do things. I advocate for him. We pay a mind-boggling amount for his care right now, and I am shocked at how bad that care is. I have made the nursing director at his facility cry. I have gotten into a shouting match with the director. I have been there in person and confronted people about ridiculous things like why he’s sleeping on a pillow with no pillowcase. I hired hospice to come so he’d have some more care and better equipment. And it seems like ALL I DO is push, and complain, and demand care, and figure out fucked up medical bills. All for a man I hate, but don’t hate, but feel like I should hate.

One day he was especially depressed and I got my phone and found a YouTube of Michael Crawford singing “Music of the Night” and handed it to him and he held it to his ear and eventually started singing. And I sat in a chair and sobbed. Because I have a heart.

It’s just one thing after another. It’s all I talk to my therapist about. I write lists of things I want to talk about, and I end up spending 50 minutes repeating fucked up things my mom says to me and my therapist defends me and tells me to set boundaries and I try, but I don’t think she understands that I’m an only child. I HAVE to do things. I HAVE to keep her from falling for scams. I have to invite her to Thanksgiving and Christmas things. What am I supposed to do, just ignore her and leave her at her apartment alone?

I have a heart. I do. I wish I didn’t. Help me out you guys.

9 comments

  1. I hate everything about dealing with aging parents. My parents both flamed out extremely early due to their shitty life choices and now it’s our problem, and probably will be for DECADES.

    Neither one of them ever had to lift a single FINGER for their own parents, or spend a dime on them. And actually, they didn’t really do shit for us EITHER, so excuse us if we’re not honored and grateful to be spending the bulk of our lives putting every resource we have not only into them, but into our own kids. FUCKING SANDWICH GENERATION BULLSHIT.

    That Grandpad is the cat’s ass though, thanks for that my mom uses it every day xoxo

  2. I truly do not know what to say EXCEPT that your feelings are super normal. My BFF is also a sandwiched only child (although her younger two kids are younger than yours, still in grade school) and is equally bitter and caring and does EVERYthing. All I know to tell you is keep talking to that therapist, keep trying to set boundaries for yourself, and know that “boundaries” doesn’t mean “quit caring and let em die in the street.”

  3. I’m so sorry, that all sucks a lot. None of it is easy but the bad history makes it 10 times worse. Hang in there.

  4. One of the most important things our therapist said to us is…we are not responsible for our parents. We are NOT responsible for our parents.
    My mil is in full dementia. She lives alone and we are trying to get her in a home, but we are not paying out of our pockets for her. She was a horrible mother to my son. We are doing what we can but we will NOT endure here abuse and will not pay for her. The systems are flawed for the elderly and the dementia people. Adult protective services will do nothing to help. Why must we pay for our parents poor choices? I’m sorry you are going through this. Just know, you are not the only one.

  5. My bottom line was I didn’t want to regret what I’d done or wish I’d done more after they were gone. My family was not warm or nurturing, but not actively bad. I heard nice things about my mom at her funeral that were so surprising because we never saw that side of her. My dad was mostly just not there. I cannot relate to the people who say their mom was their best friend, or miss their parents so much because they could always go to them for whatever they needed. I think a lot of people who end up alone in a facility spent their lives alienating pretty much everybody they knew. So no advice, really. You’re right, you gotta do what you gotta do but you don’t have to be happy about it (or good at it, I was not) and that’s OK.

  6. When my mother complains I’m not *insert complaint here*, I just say that I’m the daughter she made. Perhaps I’d be kinder, more attentive, etc. if she’d been kinder, more attentive, etc. I am who she “raised” me to be.

  7. My father died, um, shoot, I was about to say 10 years ago, but I think it was closer to 15. I think you can see where I’m going with this. ;-p We had the relationship we had; as my husband often says about HIS parents’ deaths, “I refuse to feel bad because I don’t feel worse.” I am closer to my mother, who was a really good kid-parent but is having a more difficult old age, so things aren’t easy there either. I hope and pray that my children never talk about or feel about me the way I feel about either of my parents…but I have no control over that, either.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about ur dad. The inappropriate behavior is completely normal – I can’t believe the staff would comment to you about it. Kind of a dick move to make you feel bad about his neurological deterioration. The family dynamics – also way more common than you think. Get thru how you get thru. No apologies necessary.

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