He shoulda stood in bed…

July 21, 2007 at 9:12 AM (Alchoholism, family) (, )

My poor father…*now,* I just laugh and laugh over this…but back then I had quite the adolescent drama fit…

It was my sixteenth birthday, and somehow, magically…even with a disability…I had aquired a boyfriend. Said boyfriend was scheduled to do the MeetTheParents thing at my favorite local pizza joint.

The boyfriend called that day and said he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t come. It was a short conversation and left me feeling like a huge hole had been shot in my birthday and led shortly thereafter to me deciding he needn’t bother to call me or consider me a girlfriend anymore.

(What I never knew until I married him, was that he was just recovering from knee replacment surgery and was confined to bed…but in his 18 year old mind telling me that wouldn’t have been macho or manly so…he waited till the last minute told that partial truth in a quick neutral tone, and ended the call…)

I sulked for a good bit, and my mother was torn between telling me to get over myself and really wanting me to have a good time…so she let me open one of my presents early. I was fond of story song singer Harry Chapin at the time and a difficult to find album (yes, before CD’s and IPODs there was vinyl.), was my present…There was about ten minutes of happydance over the present, and then we settled in to wait for my father.

two hours later, at 7:30 he called (drunk) to say he’d be home at 9:00 which kinda ruled out dinner. More sulkage and geniune anger from me, and a very stiff quietness from my mother that meant that after I was done yelling at him for wrecking my birthday he was going to get real true hell from her.

Well, at 9:00 he rolls in.

He had brought a pizza with him, I suppose as an acknowledgement that he knew we weren’t actually getting to go out…

I have to explain the side entryway to my house from the garage.

One opened the side door, turned right and there was a single step up into the kitchen. If one wanted to do laundry or something, one came in the side door and straight ahead were the stairs down to the paneled but oft flooded basement with a half bath and a laundry room off of it.

Well, my father opened the side door, gave a slurred fuzzy series of sounds I believe were meant to explain his pizza… and kept going straight…. missed the stairs, and fell down the entire flight, and landed on the moulding linoleum floor. Luckly for his head, it was cushioned by the open pizza box and the pizza inside it.

Sometime, in midair, between the top of the stairs and the basement floor, he also passed out.

My mother screamed: “Neil!” She was terrified, but I don’t think she was sure what she was terrified of, that the fool had accomplished death-by-pizza, or that he had not.

She bolted so quickly from the kitchen table downstairs it looked like a cartoon of “The Flash” from my youth. I hustled down the stairs on my backside, the only way I handled them well.

She had checked to see if there was any blood, swelling, broken bones, or if he manifested signs of head trauma already. He was bruised I’ll bet, but completely ok otherwise, passed out and unresponsive his pupils were not odd or funky…the side of his face resting on and melded with all the ingredients of the pennance pizza.

She stood up all hard and cold again…there were a few beats where she was just mastering all of the 800 emotions that had to have been going on for her…

I perceived that he appeared ok, and was stunned that he was passed out and alseep!

“What are we going to do with him?” I asked, at a loss.

She was in control again and the delivery was both clipped and immovable.

“I’m just going to leave him down here. He’s fine and I can’t stand to see him for one single minute longer. Let’s go upstairs.” She softened when she knew that I wasn’t sure how to feel, and let that show on my face, but didn’t argue.

“When he wakes up, he’ll just come upstairs and get undressed and [hopefully] clean up. We can’t really do anything else tonight. Let’s go upstairs.” I was in full agreement on the “not looking at him another minute” part, and I didn’t trust myself not to spit on him, cover him with dirty clothes, or do something else inappropriately juvenile in retailiation.

But the picture of my father the lawyer in his expensive coat and suit…unconsious with his face in a pizza….I think I remember that when we got upstairs…

There was a long while there where we couldn’t stop laughing.

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The Contest

June 25, 2007 at 8:19 PM (Alchoholism) (, )

Words and/or actions can hurt…and they don’t necessarily stop once one is a grown up…

It’s 1991 and I’m sitting at a small, bright kitchen table at my father’s girlfriend’s condo.

I’ve just advised my father, who is slouching in a corner by the fridge, that I’ve had my first round of chemo for Hodgkin’s disease…

The girlfriend is out somewhere…

“Why would you *do* that..It’s gonna come back in fifteen years and kill ya anyway…What’s the point?”

Had I been a juror, and him still an attorney making an argument rather than a drunk, making an @ss out of himself..I’d have busted out laughing or slapped him.

As it was I was just appalled. But there was more…

“Well, your husband and I, see…I’ve just found out I’ve got chirrosis of the liver, and I’m dying of’t.”

“We’ll have a contest to see which one of us dies first, him or me…”

My father should have said that absolutely insane nonsense in my house, because then I would have had the satisfaction of a loud, ” Get the F*ck Out Of My House You *********tard!”…and the husband could have mustered up just enough strength to throw him out of the house.

I would have paid real money to see that.

But since this was his girlfriend’s condo, and before cell phones…I just went into the living room called my spouse and said….”Can you please come and bring me home because my father is being a complete ****************.”

(I’ve always been annoyed that because I’ve never mastered driving, I couldn’t do a movie style argument with anybody.  I can’t ‘flounce off in a huff,’ or run out the door and take the car and pull it, tires screaming, out of the driveway…)

I remember that night at home. Husband was uncharacteristically calmer and quieter than usual. and we had a long time for cuddling…

Because I made sure I told my husband who needed to win that ‘contest.’

It affected him though, also…And the next New Years I had a feeling he’d been saving up some payback of a sort…

He and my father were in the condo living-room watching some game or another and myself and the girlfriend were doing the kitchen thing…(99% the long suffering girlfriend because she was a great cook.)

We ate our meal in the living room with the games on, and my father kept on drinking…Then he began yelling at everybody and acting stupid, and being profoundly inappropriate to everyone in general and me in particular.

(I lose any and all feminist credential by what I’m about to repeat…but I can’t help that. I can’t go back in time and parse why the whole exchange was sexist and demeaning on both sides. I can’t, because I was *glad* to hear it.)

My husband said,

“Don’t you *talk* to my wife that way..”

…and inside my head I was cheering. (Not for the possessive “my wife.” I would have been fine with my name…)

That was the first time anyone outside of his biological relatives had let my father have it for the way he treated *me.* Not my mother. Not his other family. Not his co-workers.

Someone was calling him on his crap regarding the way he behaved toward *me.*

And though my husband had his own huge case of Bad Temper Rarely Used to Good Effect….

That day he stood up for me both figuratively and literally. (since we then stood and calmly left the place…)

My father lived about ten months after my husband passed away…

But I still know who the winner was (is!)

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At Regular Intervals Part II

July 18, 2006 at 11:28 AM (Able Bodied Antics, Alchoholism, Doctors, Hospitalization) (, )

1975

I am thirteen. I’ve had a reasonable discussion with my physician. He makes me believe that my right foot needs to be steadied by fusing the ankle, breaking it (on purpose?) and resetting the bone so it cannot move side to side. I agree with him.

Mom, with all the facts in front of her is incredibly afraid that losing flexibility in the right foot will be worse for me in the long run. She cancels the sugery.

I actually fly into a rage and take her by the shoulders and *shake her.* How dare she decide what’s best for *my* foot!

She is stunned and actually afraid of me. I back down on the physical stuff but still take the (in hindsight ridiculous) position that at the ripe old age of thirteen, I am the one who gets to decide. I am left in my room to listen to another war of words between my father and my mother.

“Well, I agree with you, it’s probably a lousy idea, but you’ve got the kid *set* on it now, and once she’s set up for something…you see how nuts it is! But it’s a fact now. Now, we have to do it.”

With my father’s comfortingly lukewarm endorsement, I had that surgery.

Sometime during that stay, he also felt the need to show up completely wasted, loud, f*cked up during evening visiting hours, demanding to see me, terrorizing the candy stripers. “Where’s my daughter!!!!!!” The candy striper he yelled at came in later, after he was gone and gave me cookies and juice. I was profoundly ashamed . After all, if I was not a patient there, the werewolf would not have brought his chaos to them.

I had a horrible reaction to the general anesthetic that was used back then. So for 8 hours I was so puke o matic that I wasn’t aware that my right leg was killing me. Once the pain in that leg increased enough to register, I avoided the pain meds for as long as I could…did the white knuckle thing with my hands on the rails until 4:00 am. I remembered that last time the nurses had laughed at my rapid fire manic talking after I took stuff. So I was going to hold out. I was sweating and shaking by the time I buzzed the nurse for a painkiller.

Then Wednesday morning arrived. My orthopedic surgeon breezed in after a cheery round of golf, no doubt with some of his and my father’s mutual acquaintances, part of the Charming Drunks Who Thought They Ran Things Network.

“Well, and how are *we* today?”

I looked at him, cocked a brow and said, “I don’t know how *you* are, but I feel like SH!T!”

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