Bye 2019…thanks for nothing.

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I hated 2019.  Like DESPISED it.  In March, my boyfriend of nine years went through alcohol withdrawal and was put in a medically induced coma on a breathing tube and ventilator.  It lasted 17 extremely long days.  His 28 day hospital stay resulted in his (sort-of) recovery, but the end of our relationship.  I was with him the whole time and I feel like I will never get over the trauma of seeing the man I love in that condition.  However, I was finally starting to feel a little better this month…I got through Thanksgiving and could see the end of the year finally approaching…a fresh, new start.

And then my father was put into a medically induced coma on a breathing tube and ventilator last Thursday.  What. The. Actual. Hell? How do two people that I am very close with, the two men in my life, BOTH end up in comas within the same year???  Thankfully, my dad was removed from the sedation and the breathing tube was removed last night and he seems do be doing ok.  Yesterday was touch and go and in the morning, his condition was bad enough for a palliative nurse to speak to us about a DNR order and “quality of life” concerns.

I just can’t believe it.  I feel like I keep saying that over and over.  How did this happen to TWO people? In ONE year? Six more hours until this horrible, traumatic, heartbreaking, life-changing year is over and I can’t wait.

‘Til death do us part

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I recently read an article online and came across a quote that struck me.  It was written by a recovering alcoholic who stated, “All of us stop drinking at some point. It’s just that for some people, that point is death.”

I kept going back and reading those two sentences over and over.  It is such a simple statement, but it is really powerful and concise.  I never really thought about alcoholism in that way.  My father has never attempted to stop drinking and I have accepted the fact that he will most likely die an alcoholic (he may even be drunk when he dies).  My father’s alcoholism will not end until his life does.

Today, my dad wrote one of his obnoxious, embarrassing emails and copied various people on it- my sister and my mother, my aunt and uncle (his own brother from whom he is pretty much estranged), my other aunt (my mom’s sister who is an alcoholic herself), my cousin and about seven friends of our family (two couples and a few guys who have loyally remained friends with my parents from when they were first married).  Even though I am accustomed to the lunacy of his emails and can usually ignore them completely, sometimes I have to look at it from the perspective of one of these unsuspecting recipients.  They must literally think he is insane.  It is hard not to feel that it is a reflection on our family (or that at the very least there are several people who probably open his email and can’t help but pity us).  Most of what he writes is utter nonsense and this email was very tame compared to the majority that he sends, but it still makes me feel weird.  The other day when my sister and I were with my mom we were talking about hobbies and one of us mentioned that it was unfortunate that my dad doesn’t have any interests to keep himself busy.  My mom quickly replied, “he does have a hobby- writing his emails.”  It’s darkly funny and ironic…my paternal grandfather used to write in a journal every day when he was alive.  He had an easy chair in the corner of their living room, right next to a small bookshelf filled with little leather bound journals.  His journals seemed sacred when I was growing up and during my visits to their house, I was never tempted to read one of them.  After he died, my grandmother packed them all up in a big box and put them in the attic.  Many years later when she passed away, my sister was helping to clean out their house and found them.  She brought one to me as a keepsake (she and I are both VERY sentimental, especially regarding our grandparents).  I was shocked to discover that his journals were not filled with philosophical ideas and deep reflections, but rather the minutiae of everyday life.  He noted the weather, how he was feeling, what he did that day (“went to the dump”), etc.  If my sister and I were visiting, he would write about how much we had grown and about what we did at the beach that day.  I have to admit I was almost disappointed when I read it, because I was hoping for…more.  Now that I know he was an alcoholic, too, I wonder if this was his pre-technological way of doing exactly what my father does.  My dad treats his emails as a daily journal, although instead of keeping his inner most thoughts private, he copies various people on them.

When my dad does die, I wonder who will care.  I mean, I know people will care, but will they really care?  He has burned so many bridges with so many people.  During his brief two year sabbatical from drinking, he changed in so many positive ways.  If he had passed away during that time, it would have seemed more tragic…like he had so much to live for…that my sister and I had lost our dear father.  Now, he just seems pathetic.  His death will be a big deal for my mother, sister and me, but will be a tragic blip on most other people’s radars.  They will feel sorry for us, they will feel sad for losing the man they remember- the brother he was growing up, the friend he was in his 20s.  But when people think about him, he will always be thought of first and foremost as an alcoholic- a sad label that defined him for the past 25 years.

 

Falling from grace

My paternal grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) has been ill lately and I just found out yesterday that she fell on Tuesday evening and was not found until yesterday afternoon. She lives six hours away from me and I feel very helpless. I have a very small family. On my dad’s side, there is only my grandma, uncle (dad’s brother), aunt (his wife) and two cousins (their children). They live in Maine, my grandmother in Cape Cod and my family is all in NJ.

For many, many years, my family has been distant- literally and figuratively- from my uncle’s family due to my father’s behavior. I resent him for this because I care about them a lot and feel like I am missing out on seeing my cousins grow up. I was very close with my aunt especially growing up. In fact, for the past few years, even my contact with my grandma has been limited because she has a clear preference for my uncle’s family and I don’t blame her. My father has ruined many occasions and his behavior must be very upsetting for my grandmother and uncle (my grandfather was a raging alcoholic before he died in 1990, so my father must be a great disappointment to them).

Throughout these past few months that my grandmother has been falling, ill and in and out of the hospital, there have been email chains going including all members of the family, including my dad and uncle’s first cousin, who thankfully lives by my grandma and has been instrumental in her care. Whereas everyone else’s emails have centered on my grandmother and what can be done to best assist her, my father’s emails have been batshit crazy insane. He writes nasty things, talks about irrelevant topics and focuses on himself and his problems predominantly. Finally my mother had to call my uncle to apologize and explain that my father’s alcoholism has increasingly become worse since the two brothers last saw each other.

My mother has always been the heart of our family and it is unfortunate that so many other relationships had to suffer because of my father. People didn’t want to be bothered with him, and that trickled down to include my mother, my sister and me. I don’t take it personally because if I was in their position, I would feel the same way. But it makes me very angry with my father, not only for destroying family ties, but also because he is not doing anything to help his own mother. When my maternal grandparents both passed away a couple of years ago, my mom was back and forth from NJ to FL constantly and we all got involved in helping them and being there for them in anyway.

So when my mother tried calling my grandma to check on her (my grandma adores my mom), she got no answer and was worried. She called my dad’s aunt who rushed over and found her on the floor, completely disoriented and she was rushed to the hospital, where she still is now. Most of the communication of all this was on email and between my mom, the cousin and my uncle. My father was specifially left off of the email and was the last to know that his mother had fallen. This makes me so sad and angry and left wondering why my family is so freaking dysfunctional. Most of my friends have normal families with normal relationships (not perfect, obviously, but in the norm). It upsets me so much that because of my father, I have limited contact with his whole side of the family (and my family all around is extremely small…on my mom’s side there is only my aunt, cousin and her kids). I just feel sad today. Sad for my grandma, who will most likely die without seeing her eldest son again (my dad) and who must feel heartbroken that he turned out the way he did.