I have always tried to be an optimistic person. Hell, I had to be with to be with the Reaper’s Apprentice as my adopted mother. Anything I have told people about my life with her was “G” rated. I could never tell the whole truth, because who would believe me?
My friend Chris said she was Bat-Shit Crazy when we were 16. That became the easiest, and shortest, explanation I used the rest or her life. I even told her that when I was frustrated. She always said, “I’m not crazy. You are!” Yeah, well, I wasn’t a narcissist nor was I Bi-Polar nor did I refuse all medical help and I didn’t lie and say I had medical training, but she did. And I don’t care if I can’t prove it or have tests to back it up, but she was directly responsible for Dad’s death. She wanted me dead. To maintain her supremacy in her universe, all detractors had to be silenced.. Because she was going to live forever! Psycho-bitch. And men wanted to her at 85. She was sooo sexy! They would kill a fat piece of shit like me to get to her. A mother’s love. How warm and fuzzy.
Dad had a stroke. 1000’s of brain aneurysms over a few days because she insisted to his Alzheimer’s riddled PCP that he didn’t need it his blood thinning medication – his coumadin. His cardiologist said he had to take it for the rest of his life because of the pace maker, but he was on sabbatical (Doctors without Borders) and Mom didn’t like him because he had challenged her medical “credentials”, so out of site and out of reach and she could get her way. And she did.
When I ended up living with her, she took all my medication and threw t hem out. Flushed down the toilet, threw it in the city trash can, nothing recoverable. My ex-husband and I were going through a divorce and my doctors were in Northern California. I was in Southern California because that is where the Sea Witch lived. She hated the sea, so not sea witch. She was more like a destructive dust storm, or an emotional vampire. Technically, she was a succubus draining joy and happiness from everyone. Succubus hits more notes for me. I was “drug addicted” so she had to correct that. Drugs for Diabetes and Hypertension are so bad for you and are gateway drugs to Coke and Heroin after all. See? Bat Shit Crazy Succubi.
So Dad had had the stroke. I walked in his shoes, in his shadow. I drove myself to the hospital, because those fuckers are expensive, not because I didn’t want to bring unwanted neighbor attention like Mom. Besides, no one was home and I was alone as usual.
Those first few days after Dad’s stroke, the first few days after my own, I knew too well how he felt, what he thought, what he knew he was facing – his imminent death. Mom wasn’t around anymore and couldn’t do anything to halt my recovery, but his? She did everything to make sure the Hospice workers did nothing to help him, to help him towards recovery. I saw this for weeks. A week there, back to work and home for 10 days and back to SoCal to be with him. To watch over him. To talk with him and keep Mom from hovering and screaming at him to be normal. Never to help him, just to make sure no one did. For nearly 4 months. She insured he would die because she was bat shit crazy and he knew that. He told me shortly before his stroke, “Mom isn’t well”. The code phrase I knew so well from hearing it over the years that there was something very wrong. He knew she had dementia. And he knew I would have to take care of her just as he had for over 40 years. She would be my burden now, just as he had warned me when I was 19.
Though he was in hospice, a death watch, she was convinced he would miraculously recover. They were going home to Norway! He promised! She wouldn’t allow the Hospice workers to perform therapy. Dad had difficulty swallowing, yet she made him food as if nothing had happened. He had to get up to go to the bathroom, yet he needed two people to get him out of his bed and to the small and narrow “water closet” type room that had the toilet. Dad would be “embarrassed” if he wet the bed. Any adult would. I know from personal experience. His stroke was right hemisphere too. Like father, like daughter.
Dad was in constant pain. His muscles were atrophying, shortening. The Hospice supervisor got a prescription for Morphine. Mom had a fit. No! They weren’t going to make him an addict! I was there that weekend. Dad and I could communicate, just as we had for years under her evil gaze. It was all in the eyes and facial expressions, which Dad could still manage with half a working face. So, as I sat there, holding his hand, I asked him, “Do you want me to put an end to this?” A very deep and solemn nod.
Mom was railing at the hospice supervisor in the Living Room and I went to put a stop to it. I went out there and said, “Dad has something he wants to convey. He wants his decisions to be understood.” Of course, Mom was shocked. “He won’t speak! You’re lying!” He did have difficulty speaking, but he could still think and communicate. Mom just never took the time to figure out how. She never did with either of us.
The woman came in and spoke directly to Dad, asked him if was comfortable. He gave “meh” lift to his shoulders, a lift to the corner of his mouth. But his eyes. They showed his pain, his thorough fatigue. He was physically and mentally done. He had been summarily tortured for 3 months. He managed to choke out a few words. My name and decision. I said, “Dad, do you mean me and I decide for you?” An emphatic deep nod of yes. He jerked his head right and said “NO!” Meaning, Mom couldn’t speak for him, that’s what the Supervisor asked. He kept shaking his head and repeating “no”. It broke my heart, made me cry, I hated her in that moment. It would worsen over time, but this was about Dad and I would protect him if I could – against her. She denied his wishes, saying he had no right. That I didn’t care. That I wanted him dead. No. I wanted him to know peace, something he had been denied for years.
I had to leave later that day, but Dad would receive care in unison with his condition. I had arranged over the weeks for a hospital bed, a portable commode, a walker, an oxygen machine, a humidifier. Whatever made it easier for him. We chatted, I often walked him to his car with the succubi perched in the only window with a front view. Remember “Bewitched? Gladys Kravitz? That was Mom’s nickname. I gave her that when I was a kid. Dad would chuckle, shake his head, and mutter an agreement. Admonish her when she would yell at me. “Gunn? You can’t take a joke? So he’s got a point. You’re nosey.” Not as much nosey as a menace. That’s another story for another time, but let’s just say, the police told Dad to control his wife. Ha!
I spoke to the cardiologist. He even came by to check on Dad, much to Mom’s consternation. When I asked told him I was going to file wrongly, death charges against Dad’d PCP, he looked sad and put his hands on my shoulders and said, “I will do all that I can, but you can’t do that because of your Mom.” At the time, I took it as concern for her. Now I know different. He knew the truth – the whole truth. She should have been locked away, like Manson. She was psychotic. Her family had no idea and didn’t want to know. Big Sis was happy in America! Yeah, she was happy.
I left latter that afternoon, sat with Dad for a few more minutes, quietly chatting. Dad had tinnitus, he wasn’t deaf. If you spoke slowly and distinctly, he could understand you. Mom yelled. He couldn’t understand even then, I would translate in my quiet tone, looking at him directly, holding his gaze. I had done that for years. Even modulating my voice, making it deeper and easier for him to understand. That’s how I got my 3-octave range. My stroke took that. I can’t sing anymore. But, I spoke to Dad. I told him I would be back in a few days, forour at most. I knew he was fading. He shook his head, said no. “I won’t be here”, he choked out. “Daddy, don’t say that. You can’t leave me yet!”, I cried. He just shook his head, muttering no. Then, he said, “I love you, Venke. Always.” I sobbed. I kissed his cheek, rested my head next to his, the closest I could do to a hug. Such moments were rare between he and I. Mom would get jealous, make noises, saying it was “improper”, commenting to me about it later. She was wrong. Always.
Those would the last words I would ever hear him say.
I had the long drive home, I managed it in about 7 hours. I got a call from the Hospice supervisor around 7:30 pm that night, Dad was in a lot of pain and really restless, would it be ok to give him a dose of morphine? If his doctor recommended it, of course. She would prescribe it at the doctor’s direction. Mom was interfering again.
I got home shortly before midnight, unpacked the car quietly as Kevin was asleep and hated to be woken up. I sank into bed and passed out.I was so tired and I had to be at work at 9 am.
At around 2 am, the house phone rang. I didn’t run to get it, voicemail would. I knew. That was Mom. I didn’t want to talk to her. I went to the house phone after a few minutes, dialed into voicemail, a hysterical Mom sobbing Dad was dead. He had died in his sleep. I had to come right away.
I called her back, told her I would drive back. She was still sobbing, telling me she couldn’t do this alone. I had to take care of everything. She didn’t know what to do. Yeah, I know.
I woke Kevin and told him. He gave me a hug, told me he would be done in a few days, but “work”. Yeah, I know. With barely 2 hours sleep, I hit the road. That is when the 5 became my trail of tears. I drove, finally watching the sun come up over the Basin. By the time I got to the house, the first time I came home and Dad wasn’t there for a quick hug and an air kiss, the coroner had been there and all the rented equipment had been removed. He had been cleared out, as if never there.
He was cremated. I still have his ashes. The final bill came from the hospital and we owed nothing. Dad’s cardiologist had insured that Dad’s PCP retired, wouldn’t see patients again, his diagnosis made public. He did more than I had hoped for.
A stroke is a death sentence when you are alone. Even more so when you have never had anyone who stood beside you when you couldn’t stand on your own. Just a hand reaching out to help you to your feet so you can take the first few steps back to the land of the living. I did that for Dad. Mom didn’t know how. She never let me morn him. He left her, after all, and he lived with that betrayal the rest of her life and blamed me for trying to steal him. I wasn’t really his daughter. I was a woman who wanted him – a man 46 years older than me. She was more than just cray-cray. She was evil incarnate.
That is what I live with everyday, every minute, every second. Living with the impact of a rare stroke and not getting the medical help I am entitled to has left me bitter and angry and so profoundly disillusioned. Especially after today. The LLC I contracted to help me get Social Security, I’m just a number they will earn 25% of what SS grants me when they give me the lump sum from the original application date to the approval date. What are they doing? Filing forms they legally need to as proof they were “working” and deserve that 25%. They do nothing else. I don’t have a person assigned to me. I just talk to whoever answers the call. They listen and say nothing until I sufficiently get it out of my system. They offer no advice, no words of encouragement. I could be talking to a robot. There is no difference.
I was told Social Security is taking 20 months for appeal hearings. Almost 2 years. Kinda like Contra Costa and Section 8 housing, but their waiting list is two years old just to be added. To put it simply – I’m screwed.
I’ve used that phrase a lot lately.
20 months until a hearing for SS to decide whether I’m disabled or not. The claims I’ve filed with the Medical and Nursing Board will have been investigated and may well be decided by then, because that shit is computer recorded and in ink -and blatant. But 20 months with just food stamps. No money for gas, no insurance for the car because no money, can’t take a bus because no money, so how do I get to the store?
I have a safe place to lay my head, shower, brush my teeth, use a toilet. It’s a home, but not mine. I am but a humble and very appreciative guest. They are not family. I explained this to the legal LLC, but I’m not homeless. I don’t qualify for an expeditious hearing. This is an accepted practice now? Expected? This is inhumane. A farce. A blot on our “system” of government. We’re not a shining city on a hill. We’re the trash heap behind those trees lining that exclusive golf club. And it’s in Palm Springs in August. Mmmmm. smells like something large and furry died. Decomp is so memorable. Ever driven by a skunk roadkill? Yeah, that smell, but so much worse.
That is what my life is like right now in a way any one can imagine. Dead skunk on steroids.
20 months I am supposed to live and exist in a borrowed space while my things are rotting and corroding? When I get SS, what happens? I get an apartment buy my furniture is rotted or moldy or unusable, so I have to buy new stuff. Where? Goodwill? Salvation Army? St. Vincent de Paul’s? Cruise curb dumps for decent finds? Dumpster dive?
I’ll be dead, because why would I want to live through that just to live? With nothing? Over a stroke that I shouldn’t have survived? Some care enough to step up and help me, but I know plenty of people who will become an obnoxious nuisance if you use illegal alien instead of undocumented resident. Get bent out of shape and use insulting tones, even inferring you’re ignorant and deserved to be dismissed. They take on that righteous cause, but use their voice, their soapbox, to help another human being they know and spent time with? Too busy or not important enough to pause their knitting or spinning or bitching about some other topic that is important and has bent their pique? Cry me a river, darlin’. Ignorant snowflake.
I have known selfish people. and some very beautiful selfless people. I have been honored to be friends with the selfless ones. Knowing them enforces my belief that kindness and respect are the only human traits that we can share that prove we are the same and equal.
20 months. It could be 2 years – 2020 – before I see a possible resolution and I can access a system I worked and had money put into since I was 16. I had the stroke on November 29, 2016 and it won’t be adjudicated until June 2020 at the earliest? And I can’t qualify for a home because I can’t work and SS hasn’t determined I am disabled? Why live?
This is a lonely existence. It’s been that way for years. I can’t do it anymore.
I leave the link again, because I can’t believe my life has no meaning. If nothing else, I am a voice for all those who have no voice, who are ill and homeless and have no one. I’m one of them. It needs to change. The United States should never treat their citizens like this. Not when we’ve lived here our whole lives, born on this soil under this Flag, pledging our allegiance to a failing and toxic political process.