Complicated

 

Friends, I hate to do this to you again but I don’t have a funny today.

 

Husband is fine.  I’m… physically healthy.  I’m sat right here[1] on the couch beside him watching him get murdered by dinosaurs in pursuit of… other dinosaurs.  It should be a lovely evening but I’ve got a migraine and a tummy full of knots from a full day of crying and drama and more crying.

 

It was a hell of a weekend and I find all I really want in this crazy fucked-up world is to tell you about it.

 

 

Friday night, whilst shamelessly flaunting some new TransWorld swag and waiting for Husband’s (delayed) flight to get its fat ass in gear, I received a text from my stepmother.  This was unusual for two reasons: first, she’s not real handy with her phone[2] so any text is surprising, much less one so late at night; second, the content was alarming.

 

Lee is in the hospital on a breathing machine, serious condition.[3]

 

Yes, she called him by name.  Not, you know, your dad or anything.  But whatever.

 

Naturally, I called.  Right there in the Chips And Other Crap I Shouldn’t Be Eating aisle of Dierbergs, I called.

 

And how did she answer?

 

“What’s up?”

Jackie Chan throws up hands, purses lips, scrunches forehead and eyes in the classic expression of bafflement and WTF?!

You just…

 

Okay, so I’m gonna cut out some shit here but basically, over the next 24 hours I learned:

 

  • My father, the retired US Marine, has lost 50 pounds and is wasting away.  I don’t know on what timeline, because my stepmother is having some trouble keeping her story straight.
  • He’s been having falls and losing consciousness, but when she calls 911 he refuses to go to the hospital. Apparently this is a thing that can happen even when he’s clearly confused and not braining properly due to the whole not breathing.
  • This last time, he broke his damned leg and still refused medical treatment. So she dragged his ass upstairs and put him to bed.  When his leg wasn’t miraculously healed in the morning—it was instead rather bloated and mangled—she again insisted on an ambulance and an argument ensued.  This time, she won.  Hallefuckin’luiah.
  • He has COPD (she blames herself, or is afraid she’ll be blamed, because she can’t make him stop smoking) and has been suffering the effects of severe oxygen deprivation/CO2 toxicity for months. Why didn’t I know?  Because I only call during the Obligation Holidays and she was covering for him, hiding his condition as best she could.
  • I, being a person who lives in Missouri, do not currently live in Colorado. This was no surprise or great obstacle to me, but for the hospital it was both inconceivable and insurmountable; only a person who appears in person can prove their identity to get the secret HIPPA code so the doctors and nurses can talk to them about a patient.  Otherwise, you’re treated like a creepy stalker and told absolutely fuck-all.
  • I relayed this to my stepmother, who lamented that they weren’t telling her anything either. This, I explained, was because she didn’t have the code.  Naturally she proceeded to spend the entire weekend updating me on how she hadn’t been able to get to the hospital, hadn’t gotten a code, and was so frustrated that no one would tell her anything.

 

So Monday I resolved to call the hospital myself—again—and explain to them that I would provide whatever documentation they need to prove I’m his daughter, but I can’t physically be there just yet and I need information.  I was transferred to someone who finally understood the essence of my dilemma—geography—and promised to call back in 5-10 minutes.

 

90 minutes later, I was sick of waiting and called back.

 

“Look,” I explained, “my stepmother isn’t coming.  She’s got her own issues around that, but I still need—”

“Her name isn’t Marsha, is it?”

It isn’t, but that’s the one we’re using for story reasons.

“She’s here!  Do you want to talk to her?”

VERY MUCH.

 

Can you guess how she answered the phone?

(Princess Bride) Buttercup can't even with this bullshit and looks away; text reads, "this bitch"

 

20 points if you guessed a chipper, “Hi, what’s up?”

“Did you get the code?”

“Now Chase.  Don’t start that again.”

And just like that, we were off.  She was screaming inside of 12 seconds, snarling in under a minute, caving right after that (yay! code!) cried for all of 15 seconds before shifting right back into Wicked Stepmother mode.

 

F A N T A S T I C.

 

Bonus: I hadn’t seen Wicked Stepmother mode in fucking years.  I was totally unprepared for it.  But something stiffened in the ol’ spinal region and a smallish voice piped up, “Hey!  I’m a grown-up—you can’t talk to me like that!”  And for the first time ever, I stood up for myself against it.

 

This only angered her more, of course, but Self is proud of self and rewarded it with a cookie later.

cookie monster approves

 

Where were we?  Oh yes… the screaming and the theatrics—and she was in a hospital, by the way.  Just right there at the nurses’ station.  Lovely.  Anyway, I said, “I’m not trying to upset you, I’m only trying to help.”

“No you’re not!  You’re never here!

Wut?  “I don’t live there.  I live here.[4]  I’m offering to help.  This is me, helping.  I’m not going to fly all the way down there just to not be allowed to help.”

“Oh, that’s real nice, Chase.  Great excuse!”  And then she hung up.

And then, I found out (after sobbing on the phone to Husband, who taught me to breathe again so I could calmly call the hospital) she promptly turned to the nearest nurse and ordered that I not be given any information, regardless of my code.

 

I mean, a social worker talked her down (took ’em over an hour) and I was able to finally talk to a nurse… but she was in full Marsha, Marsha, Marsha mode—everything about her and her feels and nobody understands because she’s All Alone.[5]

 

Incidentally, the social worker was surprised to learn of my concern for Marsha’s frustration over her transportation issues and how no one was communicating with her over the weekend.  It seems she’d been there every goddamned day and talking with social workers, nurses, and doctors.  She just lied to me about it.

 

I’ve since talked to my very good friend Natalie, who gave me some excellent questions to ask the nurse and reminded me that the altered mental state we’re now seeing (the words “belligerent, combative, and confused” were repeated in sequence several times) is most likely due to DT’s and the hospital needs to be aware of that shit ASAP.  So I made another call, for which the night nurse was most grateful.  They will be appropriately medicating him now that they know the full extent of his drinking[6] and I may have just saved his life.

 

She was, in fact, so grateful that she informed me of the meeting the social workers are having with Marsha tomorrow afternoon (today, your time).  To discuss family relationships and how to manage control of my father’s care going forward.

 

I, as you can guess, will be all over that fucking meeting.

(Lion King) Sarabi the proud lioness walks past a snarling line of vicious hyenas, head held high

 

He may be a drunk.

 

He may be an abusive drunk.

 

He may be a cruel, heartless bastard of a father who never once considered my feelings above what felt good to him or the whim of his wife or literally anything he could find to put above me.

 

He will always be the asshole who called me on my birthday to tell me what a disappointment I am.  And the man who once introduced me—I am not making this up—as his son-in-law’s wife.

 

But he’s my dad.  And I’ll never forgive myself if I sit quietly by and let his second wife murder him because “it’s what he would have wanted.”

 

 

 

 

[1] Last night.  Through the magic of time travel scheduling.  Why?  Because for some weird-ass reason these don’t get seen if I post them too late at night.  Don’t ask me why, it’s probably some complicated internet thing.

[2] Though still better than my dad, who insists that texting is ridiculous because it’s “as impersonal as email, only you’re holding the device you would use to call the person.”  Which, according to him, literally everyone prefers.  I don’t know about this preference because I am selfish and childish, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

[3] Not his real name because—spoiler—he’s not dead yet and I’m still terrified he’ll find my wee blog and judge the shit out of how I waste my time and yours.  So I picked a man famous for playing scary-ass marines.

[4] Sometimes you really have to spell it out for them.

[5] She made three fuckin’ kids of her own, mind you… but she also knows she raised three of the most worthless mooches ever to walk God’s green earth and they won’t show up unless they’re in my dad’s will.  Which they are not.  He likely doesn’t have one, which means everything goes to Marsha.  Which I’m fine with, by the way—I’m genuinely only concerned that he get good medical care while he’s alive.  His old reel-to-reels and massive porn collection can be buried with him for all I care.  We got our own money ’round here and it ain’t much but there are no strings attached and that’s bliss to me.

[6] “Occasional glass of wine with dinner” my ass, Marsha.

 

 

20 comments on “Complicated

  1. Victor K says:

    Sorry to hear about all that. Family can be crummy sometimes, but it’s still family. I didn’t get along with my sister, but to this day feel a bit guilty that I was 8 hours drive away when she was hit by a car and couldn’t be there to at least say goodbye.

    Anyways, hope things work out with getting information updates and appropriate care and all that.

    Oh, and since I am well aware from previous exchanges that you are young enough to be my daughter (I mean, I’m in my 40’s!) let me say that we’re proud of you and think your “silly writing” is a wonderful gift to the world. Well done, have an extra cookie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is the thing I tried explaining to my stepmother: she’s all about how he “didn’t want anyone to see him like this” and whatever but… let’s face it, he’s not going to have to live with that embarrassment for very long, is he? I, on the other hand, will have decades to sit with my feelings about not going to see him. Plus, at his age? He’s lookin’ about as good as he ever will. “Better” is a thing that lives in the past now.

      Thank you for the cookie. You legit made me tear up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeffy says:

    That is just…shit. I’m so sorry.

    Extra cookies to you for standing up for yourself and getting involved. And a cookie for Husband for teaching you how to breathe again.

    I’m so sorry your dad is sick. And an arsehole. Married to an arsehole.

    Stay strong and as cool as you are. Sending You internet hugs from the antipodes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow. I am so, so sorry. Trying to deal with this kind of crisis long distance must be horribly frustrating. And how you’ve never reached through the phone to strangle your stepmother is a testament to your strength of will. She sounds like a pill. While it doesn’t sound good, I hope your father is now getting the proper care.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. nbratscott says:

    Don’t forget to take care of yourself, young lady!!!(whatever that means to you)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been calling in aaaaaalll the reinforcements, lol. Shoutout to Audrey for shirking her duties to her employer while I vented (way to earn friend points AND a paycheck—at! the! same! time!) and Natalie for ignoring her children and husband to give me a crash course in human medicine (actual Me quote: wait… humans clot more when they get old? Just… like extra clotting?) and of course Husband, the MVP, for coming home at lunch and leaving work early (and taking all my calls, so basically getting NO work done yesterday) in order to basically hold my hand and agree with me.

      Plus, you know, all the cookies.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jack Herlocker says:

    I’m adding a cookie to the pile Victor K started, along with hugs like Jeffy. And a mention that you have more loyal readers than you probably know, Chase, who are proud of you, your writing, and your strength of character. Go kick ass, dear lady!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I woke up to such lovely comments, and after the rough night and weekend it was too much nice. The fact that it came on the heels of Martha taking time out of her grief (which, let’s not forget, is “so much worse than mine”) to mock the job she knows about—I would never be dumb enough to tell them about writing—made it especially touching.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. emmaclaire says:

    How frustrating is all THAT?!? Hubby’s dad (83 years old) in Florida recently fell off his scooter and broke his leg as well, so we are also playing the cross-country medical support game, with 2 big differences. My FIL isn’t an arsehole and he’s single – thank goodness! Hang in there and know that the hospital folks will be very, very grateful they have a semi-sane person to talk to instead of Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, so you should be in a good position to get info and such.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Family can be … hard. And that word is too small. I’m so sorry about everything in this situation. Sending internet love, hugs and hot chocolate with giant marshamallows.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. WDS says:

    Geepers. This is a tough gig for yourself and backup staff (husband).

    Feeling for you, similar here with all the same players but different names and titles. Although Wicked Step Mother (erm Tasmanian!) seems to be a common thread. Oh and step sisters and step brothers lining up at the trough to feast on the spoils. Shifting sands of facts and history and events. Plus much more.

    Luckily for us we (me, blood brother and blood sister) all live around the corner and have the means and the medical savvy to look after him and we see Dad often. He is a good guy.

    On the other hand your situation is tough, luckily you have accumulated a stash of cookies and have a breathing coach at hand.

    All the best,
    from West Oz.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose I’m fortunate that we’re not also dealing with will stuff… although for all I know, Marsha is telling everyone that’s what this is all about. Honestly, I decided a long time ago that accepting anything from people who made me feel bad about myself when I was just a bitty thing would be gross, but none of them understand that because they all profited from someone’s death or are bitter about the fact they didn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Consider yourself hugged. Yes, I know you’re not big on that, but this is cyber – it’s different.

    I also had an asshole for a father. Probably not as bad as yours – at any rate, he didn’t drink and he stopped hitting me when I was around 16 and threatened to report him for it. But for the last year or so of his life (he had Alzheimer’s, diagnosed only around six months before he died) he consistently referred to me as “that American woman – Hubbit’s wife”.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Your Dad may be cruel and heartless (your words), but you’re not, so that’s why you do what you do. Families are tricky beasts. I hope you can find a path through this trying time that maintains your conscience and your dignity. That ‘like’ button could do with some options. Only hit it to acknowledge reading. Hope the Universe gives you a break soon. Sounds like you’re overdue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is all of those things and more, and I dearly wish I’d been offered a different model. That said, my family (Offspring, Husband) and I will do right by him because that’s our only real option; we want to continue to sleep at night. Things are going to happen that will make certain people very unhappy, and I am sorry for it. But I am only able to manage my own feelings and, God willing, the safety of those I love. Everyone’s just going to have to hitch up their pants and deal.

      Liked by 1 person

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