What To Do?

I got a text the other day from my father’s wife (no, I do not refer to her as my stepmother. No it’s not because I’m being a dick. She’s younger than me by more than a few years and as icky the situation already feels it would feel even ickier if I called her mom.) saying that I really needed to call my dad because he had some news he needed to tell me. So I call him up, he answers, tells me to hold on a second to let him light a cigarette, and then proceeds to tell me that he has lung cancer.

“You’re telling me this while smoking a cigarette?”

“Why not? I already got cancer, quitting now ain’t gonna do a fucking thing,” he said this while laughing in what I felt like was an inappropriately lighthearted way considering the situation.

I admitted he had a point and we went on to discuss how long he knew, how far along it was, what the doctors had to say, etc.. Then we got to the real reason he called; he wanted to make sure I would do all I could to keep the bank from taking the family property and leaving his wife and adopted thirteen year-old son with nowhere to live.

“Well yeah,” I said. “They’re family. Of course. What’s the situation?”

My father then went on to explain where they were financially.

“Oh. Well shit… Uh, I’ll do what I can,” was the only thing I could think to say due to finding out his poor life choices extended into his money managing skills.

He then thanked me and suddenly I found we were talking and laughing about fishing, hunting, trucks, and drinking like the first part of the conversation didn’t happen. That’s up until he got a call from, and I quote, “another motherfucking doctor who won’t leave me the fuck alone”.

After I got off the phone with my dad I told my wife the whole situation. There were more than a few moments where we both got choked up a bit, some it from the obvious and some from trying to figure out how someone could owe that much money on two acres and a four room shack with a detached bathroom bought in 1965.

***

As it is, this is a rough situation to have to deal with – I’ve had other family members who’ve died of cancer, I know how difficult it is on the person suffering from it and on everyone else around them. This is going to be a long, painful, slog for all of us involved.

Or it’s supposed be.

The thing is, I got a call just a couple of days ago from my old man’s wife to let me know that “he’s done lost his goddamned mind”.

“And in which way has he lost his mind?”

“Since your daddy done found out he got the cancer he’s been staying gone all day long drinking and partying and raising hell, coming home in the evening drunk, and then passing out. You need to talk to him!”

“I need to talk to him?”

“Yeah! He won’t listen to nothing I say. If I bitch about it, he doubles down the next day. Goofy bastard’s gonna kill himself ‘just trying to have a good time’ before the cancer gets him.”

… and I don’t know what to do about this because that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.

I know my father. I know the idea of dying a slow, painful death while people look on him with pity as he wastes slowly away from the inside-out is not the way he wants to go. He’s the kind of guy who wants to die fighting a bear with a knife he made by hand. Or by being washed off the deck of a boat while fighting a giant fish during a storm. Or, at least, by partying harder than anyone else around him. Not laying in a hospital bed.

Of course I don’t want him to die, but I also don’t want to get in his way if he’s trying to do it on his own terms before he gets too bad off to have the option.

The other side of it is if he dies sooner rather than later there’s nothing I’ll be able to do to keep the bank from taking the property to pay off his debt, which will leave his wife and other child in a bad way.

So my options are trying to convince him to allow himself to die slowly in a way not of his choosing or just let him do what he wants to do so I get to live the rest of my life feeling responsible for the fate of his child bride and their adopted son.

This is hard.

And I don’t know what to do.

But at least I know that the future will bring me a large dose of guilt no matter what. So I got that going for me.

 

An Uncomfortable Situation

The plan was simple; we go to lunch, we stop by the wife’s church for a short thing she had to sit through, we go grocery shopping, we come home. Other than the church part it seemed like a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I figured even that wouldn’t be too bad. After all it’s a Unitarian Universalist church which is just a place for liberal atheist that enjoy ritual – and don’t fish or play golf – to gather on Sunday mornings, and all I had to do was sit there politely while my wife got the info about the sex-ed classes that two of my three boys were signed up for.

So yeah, it would be a fine day.

We ended up getting a later start than we wanted so we had to go straight to the church for my wife’s little meeting where we walked in and sat down among the other parents that were there for the same reason. It started like most gatherings I’ve been to in a Unitarian church, the lighting of the Chalice, a reading from some spiritual book or another, and then down to the business of the moment. Going into this I believed – and honestly so did my wife – that it would be a purely informational meeting where they told us a few details, handed out a sheet or two printed with what we needed to know about the program, wished us well, and let us go about our day. It only took me a few minutes to realize that this wasn’t the case and that this particular assembly was going to have some participation involved.

Now, here’s a little background information for y’all: I’m not the participating type. Clubs, groups, teams, organizations of any kind – I don’t like them. As an adult and fully functioning member of society I’ve learned to just suck it up and deal when I have to participate in a group but it makes me incredibly uncomfortable and I tend to actively avoid situations where I have to do things with other people. I often find even being part of my own immediate family stressful and I helped make three out of the five of the humans in the group.

Anyway, the nice lady in charge of the program wanted us to stand if she asked a question that we could answer an affirmative too, like if we grew up in the area or if we had siblings or if we felt we had a healthy and complete sexual education as children; all questions that went along with what we were there for. I played along because all I had to do was stand up every so often, there was no talking involved, and, like I mentioned above, I know how to function in society. I understand the social contract. I can participate. I hate it. But I can. And do. Still really hate it though.

All of that first part went fine.

Then we had to separate into groups based on our child’s grade level which dictated the specific program they’re in. We have one child in first grade that’s doing the kindergarten through second grade program and we’ve got another that’s in eighth grade doing the program designed for eighth and ninth graders. It was mandatory for at least one of us to go and sit in on the eighth grader’s meeting so my wife asked if I’d be willing to go and listen to what they had to say about the little kids curriculum which caused me to immediately start panicking because “I don’t know any of those people”, “what if they ask me questions”, and “I just wanted to go to lunch, I don’t even go to this church, why did you make me do this?”. Rolling her eyes she told me she could get that info later and we went up together to the room where the mandatory meeting was being held.

We walk into this room to find that it’s all middle aged mothers except for myself and one of the program’s teachers who is a very nice older gay gentleman. That on its own didn’t bother me. What bothered me was when we had to go around the room and share our names, who our children were, and what our preferred pronouns were. When it came to my turn I tried first to crawl behind my wife and hide but that didn’t work so I answered best I could even though I suddenly forgot my name, who my children were, and why I was there. Also I answered the pronoun question by saying, “um… the typical guy ones I guess…” in much the same manner I imagine my thirteen year-old will answer that question when asked. Then we were asked as a group who felt as if they had gotten a decent education about sex from their family. Not realizing I’d be the only person in the group to do so, I raised my hand.

“Oh, only one person. Well, why don’t you tell us about that!”

So there I was being stared down by a gaggle of strange women and one old queen and right then I decided to suck it up and participate. That was a mistake. I should have just said pass because what happened is I nervously started to stutter and stammer my way through the entire history of my sexual education, about how open my parents were with information about sex, how I almost felt as if they were too open and freaked me out at a young age, how my stepfather divorced my mother and then came out by showing up to dinner with his boyfriend, how most of my babysitters as a child were lesbians, how I got caught masturbating  that one time, I apologized to all women about premature ejaculation, and on and on and on. The longer I talked the hotter my face felt, sweatier my palms got, and I eventually just blanked out mentally but my mouth kept talking.

My next clear memory I’m sitting behind the steering wheel of our van and my wife is asking me if I’m ok.

“Yeah, uh, I think so.”

“You want to go get some lunch? Maybe a beer or two?”

“I think that would be nice. Um, did I overshare in there?”

She took what felt like a good long while to get her response in order. “You know what sweetie? It’s fine. I wouldn’t worry about it. You don’t even go to this church. Let’s go get you that beer. Let’s get you a few. You seem like you need might need them.”

I did.

A Little About Myself and This Blog

I’m less than a year away from forty, I’m married, I have three children, I enjoy the outdoors, I’m a part-time stay-at-home father, I have no career, very little ambition, am overweight, out of shape, I like bacon, bourbon, and weed, which might explain some of the above, I can’t decide if I’m truly a Taoist or if I’m just really lazy, and this brief summary of myself would never get a right swipe on Tinder (I actually just had to Google if right or left was the good one) so I hope nothing happens to my wife anytime soon because dating would be rough on me. Also I’d be sad and would really miss her. I like my wife quite a bit.

As opposed to what it probably seems like in the previous paragraph, I’m actually a pretty happy guy.

My age just means I have more experience and stories than those younger.

I really do love my wife very much and we get along better than two people who have been around each other as much as we have should get along.

My three children are… Well, I love them and they’re not boring.

Being overweight and out of shape is fixable and I may one day actually get on it but if I don’t the worst that’ll happen is death and that’s inevitable so why sweat it.

The lack of a real career at my age does sometimes get to me but usually only in fits and the combination of Taoism, bacon, weed, and bourbon (in that order of importance) usually softens the sting a bit.

The one thing I left out of all the above is that I like to write. Like a lot. I write constantly and I do almost nothing with it. In fact, thanks to an upbringing that focused on practicality above all else, I actually feel guilty and a touch ashamed “wasting my time” writing. I’ve had other blogs, I’ve submitted a few stories here and there to writing contests, but trying to make something real out of it just always seemed so… impractical.

But I’m trying to get over that way of thinking. And to help I’ve started this blog. I figured if I write out the stories I would tell a therapist about my life it would be good practice and would help me “write my truth” or whatever the current lingo is.

Also I paid for the premium upgrade for this site and thanks to being an incredibly cheap person this means that I will be using it.