I’m blogging tonight so I can get this off my mind and enjoy Father’s Day with my husband and kids tomorrow.
I sent out Mother’s Day cards, but when it came time to buy cards for Father’s Day I couldn’t do it. Usually I buy all the cards for our collective three dads: my father-in-law, my dad, and my stepdad.
This year I’m down one: My stepdad. He didn’t pass away, but it feels like it. He was my stepdad for over twenty years, and over the last few he has suffered from dementia.
My mom and I had talked about trying to place him in a memory care facility on and off, but he was able to hide how bad it was getting until he wasn’t anymore. He would go on meds, get a little better, swear he was fine, go off…
I wanted to talk to him myself because he wouldn’t listen to Mom. I wanted to be straight with him and ask him to talk to us about what he wanted while he could still have a say. We always had a good relationship, and I thought of him as a bonus dad. Mom hedged when I asked her about it though. I thought she was delaying, but in hindsight, she was probably afraid of him.
Before she or I could convince him he needed more help than he was getting, it was too late. He had a particularly bad episode and tried to attack her. Mom had to call the police. He swung a weapon on the cops when they arrived. One of the officers later told Mom at a hearing that my stepdad was seconds from being shot when he finally dropped it.
He went to jail, then a mental health facility, where he is still being treated and evaluated. It’s doubtful he will stand trial. It’s also doubtful he will be released. He is in his late seventies and will probably stay in the current facility or go to a different one for the rest of his life.
This is the heavy shit I mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been dealing with all winter and spring. It’s nothing compared to what my mom has gone through. She doesn’t have enough answers yet to plan her future around what happens with him.
I try not to think of him having moments of clarity and realizing what has happened. He was a letter-of-the-law guy who panicked if he got pulled over for a busted tail light. When he told them in the facility he used to be a college professor, they thought he was hallucinating. That’s how far he’s deteriorated.
I am still trying to wrap my brain around it all. I learned some ugly truths about him during all this. I admired him a lot, and a big part of what I admired wasn’t genuine. Okay. But a lot of it was, and I can’t turn off my empathy even when it would be so much easier than processing this dumpster fire of feelings.
I just knew if I tried to buy two father’s day cards instead of three, I was going to turn into a giant emo wreck at the cash register.
I’ll call my other two dads tomorrow.
I hope they do something nice for my stepdad in the facility. I feel guilty as hell for not even being able to consider sending a card. That guilt makes me feel guilty for being disloyal to my mom even though she and I have talked about the mind-fuck aspect of all this before. We’re all he has, and we have no idea what to do with him.
I did tell Mom that if someone needs to eventually visit or meet with him and his doctors, I’ll go so she doesn’t have to, or I’ll go with her if she decides she does want to. But that’s the theoretical future. Until things get settled, we’re in limbo. And he’s…I have no fucking idea where he is, but the odds are I’ll never have him back even if I do go visit.