Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Let's start with your father...

This has been a very Happy New Year for me so far simply because 2007 is over!

The bad luck really started Thanksgiving, 2006. We went to my cousin's home for Thanksgiving--the first year since I moved away from home that I did not prepare dinner. We all ended up vomiting for the next few days. I knew we were in trouble when the cook was found sitting on the toilet with a bucket on her lat just after we had all finished eating. Yummy. We also found out that day that my Uncle, my only Uncle, was in the end stages of liver cancer. See, we thought he had diabetes for over ten years before he found out he had pancreatic cancer that metastasized to his liver. He died just before Christmas in 2006.

In January my father chased a bottle of Xanax with a bottle of southern comfort and tried to shoot my mom with a rifle. He blew holes in all the doors of the house before he was arrested and went to jail for discharging a firearm in city limits. No one, thankfully, was physically hurt in this situation. There had been a lot of drama in my life involving my parents. My Father is bipolar/manic depressive/schizophrenic--almost none of which I have inherited since his problems are most likely drug-induced. Anyway, they carted him away, and it was almost definitely necessary that he remain in jail at least until he detoxed. The problem with that is that he was being treated for several underlying medical conditions, including the recently added myelodysplastic syndrome (preleukemia).

The thing with me and my dad is this: he used more and more drugs (Oxycontin) after I graduated and moved out. They put an increasing distance between us. We had been close for many years. I was the daughter of whom he was proud. I actually got out of the small town we grew up in and made something better of myself. As he took more and more of this pills, he began to judge me as uppity and snobbish and materialistic. The things he offered as proof of his opinion were lists of items and situations that most people have: I own my own home, I bought two cars, I go out to dinner, I shop for things that are not specifically related to the care of my household, and things like that. We had quite a few arguments, and he let me down many times.
The biggest fights we had were on the night before my rehearsal for my wedding and the night before my (paternal) grandfather's funeral. (Let's suffice it to say that my father never did handle stress without lashing out at someone as a release.) He came to my home for Thanksgiving 2004, and I prepared for him an entirely poultry/egg free dinner because of his allergies. He and my mom took all his pills the first couple days they were here and detoxed hard. He didn't even join us for dinner on Thanksgiving because he couldn't get himself out of bed.

Anyway, in October of 2003 we lost my grandfather, and things between him and everyone else grew increasingly hostile. I had decided that I was not going to make any more effort to draw them into my life if all they were going to do was cause me pain. I was fully prepared to be estranged from my parents, because that was almost where we were anyway. He and my sister had several physical altercations, most involving ownership of some kind of pill or another. After my Uncle died, a man my father was very close to for a long time, my dad just snapped. He still hadn't dealt with the death of him own father and now all of the emotions he had suppressed were coming back to him in full force.

He drank, he snorted, and he swallowed, but none of it removed the pain in his heart.
He was a broken man.

While he was in jail, we began corresponding through the mail. He was taken to the EMR during his detox, and when he returned they had him in a single cell for the safety of the other prisoners. He was not allowed to receive any messages until February, and by then he was ready for some outside contact. He was not completely hallelujah healed or anything, but he was beginning to realize that he needed help. In March, he went to court, and they told him he had to serve 120 days. We counted down together, and we began talking on the phone. He also was sending letters to my children, which they loved!

On Monday, April 16th, he walked out of jail, a free man. We talked on the phone and made plans for them to come to my son's birthday party on May 2nd. I spoke with him on Wednesday to confirm plans and decide what to cook. On Friday, April 20th, I came home from work, and they told me my father had passed overnight in his sleep.

God works in mysterious ways. You see, had my father not been sent to jail, we might never have made up. Had my father not been sent to jail, he may never have detoxed, which is probably what killed him. Had my father not went to jail, he probably would have killed my sister and her entire family. Had my father not went to jail, I would not have the peace of the last thing he said to me: "Baby, I am proud of you, and I love you."

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