Saturday, January 29, 2011
For the past week, I've been back home essentially babysitting my father. Not anywhere I thought I'd be in the middle of January, but with dad just getting out of the hospital, we thought we needed to come home to be with him.
When dad had his stroke over Christmas, it scared the ever loving shit out of him. There is nothing in the world he wants less than a drink. Though he asked for a glass of wine with supper the other day, but he doesn't consider beer or wine drinking - just rum and vodka. Thats exactly the attitude that got him into the problem he has now.
As we've been spending time with him over the last while, we've learned a few things:
- When you're so drunk all the time and do not realize you've had 2 (TWO) strokes already, thats a bad sign.
- He refuses to go to AA. When he "has his feet under him" he would go, maybe to help someone else, since he "doesn't have a problem".
- My wife got a lesson from my mom on what it was like growing up with my father drinking as often as he did. It was a real eye opener, even for me. (More on this later? probably not, don't need that much detail of my life getting out there.)
- The doctor seemingly has no hope in my father's ability to keep his seizures from happening and as such, they've banned him from driving for at least 1 year.
- Trying to get the laziest man on the planet out to do some activity outside of his home, is not the easiest thing in the world.
- Dad's memory isn't that bad when it comes down to it, he just needs some cues to get it all running again. But having 3 strokes and 3 seizures probably didn't help.
My one accomplishment for the week has been to remove the wine making kit and empty wine bottles from the house. To this point, I'm not really sure what to do with the kit since neither of us drink wine. Thinking of abandoning it on the side of the road by a gas station like they left kids in the 20s and 30s. Bad idea? Probably.
Monday, January 17, 2011
- Winter boots.
- A scarf
- A sundress
- she was diagnosed as bi-polar with a mild case of schizophrenia. Which is hereditary.
- she mentioned that her mom and maternal grand mother were as well (truth? We don't know)
- she had severe learning disabilities growing up to the point that she had her own TA
- she was held back several times in elementary school
- she knew nothing about the father of the baby, she only knew his first name and that he was from PEI. So, the father's side of the family was a total mystery.
- the adoption couldn't go through until the social workers had found or tried to find the father for a period of 6 months.
- she mentioned to us she wanted to find him and sue him for child support for us. (which doesn't work)
- She got out of the hospital after the baby was born.
- Her mother (the grandmother) was made the legal guardian until her mental health returned to normal.
- Her mother named the baby Rihanna (yes, her mother named her after the singer.)
- BM was not allowed to be alone with the baby for 6 months. If the baby cried she had to have someone else go with her while she picked up the baby.
- The day we told her no, her dad brought home a crib.
- She's now off of all her medication and is alone with the baby 3 days a week when her mom is at work.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
12 years ago my life changed. Some would say it built character, I call them liars. Coming up soon is the anniversary of the death of my friend Chris.
I've tried countless times to get this post out, to get it started but every time I do I end up tearing up just thinking about writing it. I'll see if I can go better today.
In the fall of 1997 I started life at University, the single most glorious day of my life. Or so I thought. I arrived at the University late, missed 1/2 a days worth of activities and was the last in the room so I got stuck with the last bed in the room. I'm quite well adaptable so I was able to just deal with it.
On my way down the stairs after unloading the car I run into a guy from the next room. Seriously, I ran into him. Neither one of us were paying any attention at all to what was happening. He begins to show me around the hall and introducing me to some of the guys on the floor. Shortly after it was time for supper and the first evening of frosh week. This is how I met Chris.
He was a tall, and lanky guy from Montreal. He was the clumsiest person in the world since his legs were too long for the rest of his body. He also couldn't speak a lick of French, which being from Montreal confused the hell out of us Maritimers.
He would routinely tell stories from his summer vacations or about his love of snowboarding. The first story he ever told me was the time he wrapped his Volkswagon Golf around a pole while on the way home from a friends, or the time he was skiing on the first run of the winter and broke his ankle and missed the rest of the ski season. Those were the kind of stories you'd hear from him.
That year of University was fantastic, I couldn't of had a better time if I tried. The guys in the hall were great. The parties on campus were great and living in a male wing of a female residence was the best thing a shy guy like me could ever ask for.
When we returned to residence the following fall, there was a new coed residence opening where everyone applied. Chris and my roommate were living directly below me and life was grand. Or so it would seem.
By the time the first set of fall midterms had rolled around, Chris wasn't himself any more. The happy go lucky guy from last year was dispondent and distant when you spoke to him. You had a hard time getting him to smile. Things just weren't the same.
By the time Christmas rolled around Chris was having a horrible time hearing the professors in this classes, he began to tape the lectures to play them later so he could take notes. The year continued on, we had parties, played practical jokes on the cleaning staff. Nothing could be better.
At the end of the year, we all said our goodbyes and moved back home to be with our families and work for a few months until we returned.
When the fall rolled around again, Chris was given his own room in the dorm so that he could study without distraction since he was now having an even harder time hearing. We all figured that it was because he routinely listened to music way too loud on his headphones.
At Thanksgiving he went home to be with his family. And he didn't come back right away. It was about a week later he returned to residence with a smile on his face. We started to see the old Chris come around. The semester rolled on and in the middle of November Chris went home again, this time for the rest of the semester.
A couple of months went by with no word from his family as to what was happening with him, when the Dean of Residence came up to us to give us the news. The Dean was a very close family friend and he had known what was happening for a few weeks now. His father had come down over the weekend and cleaned out Chris' room. He would not be returning this semester.
While he was home at Thanksgiving, he went for some tests and found out that he had an inoperable brain tumor. They didn't get results back until in November when he went home again.
The doctors gave him a few months to live, which according to the Dean was a high estimate.
In February, Chris came to visit. By this time he was in the middle of his Chemotherapy and could no longer walk more than a few steps. The man I had befriended my first day at University was dying.
Regrettably, I did not see Chris when he was in town for a few hours. At the same time I was dealing with the passing of a grandparent the week before and could not bring myself to have that much emotion running though my body.
After speaking with a few people who saw him, Chris no longer recognized anyone he attended school with nor did he remember the layout the residence he lived in for 2 1/2 years. To this day, I still have a hard time coming to terms with my decision not to see him, but I understand everything that I was going through at the time.
In my 31 years on the planet, this is my only regret in life.
Three weeks after his visit to town Chris died in his sleep at home.
His family, realizing the large community of friends he had came to Fredericton with his ashes to have a memorial service at the residence. When the arrived in town they took us out to dinner where they gave us a small urn for us to spread. The Dean of Residence paid for his closest 4 friends to travel to Grand Manan and spend the weekend remembering Chris and everything that he meant to us. Which is what we all needed for some closure.
I will always remember the weekend in the middle of exams when we spread his ashes into the Bay of Fundy on a cold and blustery day in April.
Since University, the 4 of us who were on Grand Manan have since drifted apart and moved all over the world.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
As you may have heard from Facebook or Twitter, my dad had a stroke.
He had a stroke 15 minutes before I was going to see him over Christmas. This stroke was only a mild stroke, more like a warning than anything else.
What was it a warning of? My father is an alcoholic. A terrible alcoholic. When I found out how much he drank in the run of the day I was in shock. It actually scared me.
As I'm standing next to his girl-friend, listening to her retell the story of the happenings of that morning to the neurologist on-duty, the only thing that I can focus on is the number she used when the doctor asked what he drank that morning. It was only 11am when the stroke happened. What was he doing with that already in his system? Did he get up extra early because he knew we wouldn't let him have a single sip?
When I was 18. I hit the bottle like all young kids going away to university. After my 8th week in school, I began to notice a pattern in myself that I didn't recognize. I couldn't remember the weekends any more. From the moment the first liquid hit my lips on Friday afternoon I had little to no recollection of what happened until Monday afternoon.
I sat in the library one afternoon studying for a test when this occurred to me. At the same time, I started to look back at my childhood and all the pictures I've seen over the years. In each picture and memory, there is something sitting on the table, on the arm of the chair, or curled within the frozen pose of my father's hand. A drink. For 18 years worth of pictures and memories, my father always had a drink in his hand. From the moment he woke up until he went to bed. It appeared to be a never ending flow.
I made a commitment to myself that morning. A commitment to my future that would better ensure my health and future for whatever family I had. I vowed that I wasn't going to pass on the desire/need to drink to my kids.
Lets look at some family history.
4 grand parents.
6 aunts and uncles.
7 of them have problems with alcohol. Almost 60% of my immediate family have alcohol problems.
That is where I draw the line.