Shit? Meet Fan.

The cosmos just knows when you are burdened to the point of mental dizziness, loaded up like a wagon cart heading for the promised land which just happens to lie a couple thousand miles off – past the prairies, over the Rockies and across the desert. It also knows that the only thing you are likely to find is a junior wife position in the Lion’s House.

Things stack up. A little bit at a time, but eventually there is nowhere left to pile. Kind of like the inside of MIL#1’s double wide. An Oprah intervention in the making.

For the last week my younger brother, CB, has been calling to vent his spleen and general mental unhingedness on me. While I continue to feel quite badly for him, I am not unaware that he needs me more as a go between than as shoulder. He gets nowhere with our parents when he is in one of his “moods” and though it seems to me that he is no longer effing his life up on purpose, it is really effed up, and he is going to need some cash to start righting it. Cash, by the way, is not something that a 42 year old high school drop-out armed with just a GED and a couple of decades worth of working under the table contracting is going to be able to come up with easily in the economy today.

Because Dad has been ill and largely unable to hold up his end of a conversation, I have been reduced to leaning a bit on Mom. Have I ever mentioned that she is not a crisis manager? Pressure and Mom mix like oil and water.

I know I am heartless, but I believe that despite what they have given monetarily to CB in the past – they still owe him a bit more. The sum he needs to escape Marin and retreat to Tahoe to “get a grip” is pocket change to the parental units. My position is pay him. It will ease the situation for a while, and we could all use that.

However, another wrinkle – that sly universe again – came into play when Dad’s doctors hospitalized him yesterday. Pneumonia and fluid on a lung. Serious in an 81 year old man with pulmonary disease.

My conversation with CB yesterday went something like:

Me: Dad’s in the hospital. Mom will talk with him about the money when all the testing is over, and they know what is going on.

CB: Okay, so when do you think that will be? Because I need the money by the 1st.

Yeah, CB is a bit ego-centric, but as Rob reminded me – aren’t we all – in this life for ourselves kind of thing? Unless you are Mother Teresa that is. Oops, bad example. Or maybe an apt one because as self-less as we are all capable of being, what ultimately makes us happy, content or whatever, is having a life that is stable with people who care about – even love – us.

I googled the whole “fluid on the lung” thing last night then. It was not cheery.

  • infection
  • the beginnings of congestive heart failure
  • cancer

Dad’s lung doctor doesn’t think it has anything to do with his existing lung issues or the pneumonia. This leaves us with two ugly scenarios.

Mom called me after they siphoned off two litres of bloody fluid. She told me – without my bringing up the subject – that she simply could not deal with CB or his request. To which I replied,

“So just send him the check then.”

Because the way I see it, she will worry and feel bad if she doesn’t, and since money isn’t an issue for her – why not use it to buy a little peace and happiness for herself and CB?

And me. Let’s not forget about me in all this.

Later in the afternoon, DNOS calls and tells me not to bring up CB again.

“I didn’t,” I tell her. “Mom brought it up.”

“Oh.” Clearly she had wanted to be bossy and now couldn’t, “Well, Mom had one of her freak-out’s about it.”

I go on to explain my theory and plan. DNOS reluctantly gets on board and agrees to make sure that the money goes out this week and then says,

“I really don’t care about CB anymore. I would be upset if he…expired…but I just don’t care about him.”

And I get that. I have a list of people I should care about more than I do too.

My gut tells me I need to be prepared to hop on a plane and go soon. I know I will have to go without Rob. He and BabyD will remain here until Dad dies. I will have to do the hospice thing again on my own and being the rock and go-to on top of it. I don’t know if I am up to this or not, but life doesn’t need our permission for anything it decides to do. There is no point looking for a whale belly to ride out the storm.

Bad timing and life. Go figure.

8 thoughts on “Shit? Meet Fan.

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s health. I tend to agree that throwing money at CB is the quickest most effective (albeit short term) solution to that particular problem. Right now it sounds like everyone just needs to ‘make it go away’ so they can focus on the more pressing life and death issues your family is facing. It’s hard to be the rational, responsible one- the peacemaker. I play that role in my family and at times I feel like a human shock absorber.

    Hugs to you.

    Oh, and on another note, I have a book to offer you if you’d like to host a tour in December. I’ll email you.

  2. Arrrgh! Sorry about your dad. However, I have had doctors say, “A little pneumonia is the old man’s friend.” More worrisome is CB, and that situation will go on for a lot longer. Thinking about you and yours.

  3. Love the title. I’m sorry to hear about the latest wrinkle with your dad’s health. You navigate the family interactions really well, which shouldn’t mean you have to take care of things but rarely do things go the way they should. Keeping a good thought for you ~

    Thank you. It’s harder in a way to be standing outside and with the perspective I have on what really matters, but I try to do the best I can and not be harsh when doing it.

  4. So sorry to hear about your dad. This slow painful road to another grief really stinks. Go figure.

    Thanks. I told Rob today that I really don’t know how I feel right now and interestingly that is a familiar feeling because much of the time while Will was dying, I couldn’t put a firm finger on my emotions either. The long term illness detaches us – me at least – from ourselves. Protection maybe? Hope your mom is doing okay and you. You take care of yourself.

  5. ouch. you seem to have constructed a reasonable path forward for CB. and yes, it was the fluid in the lungs that was the start of the shorter ride down for dad (2 liters seems a lot).

    try to take a breath – DNOS may step up to more care/management and that’s not a bad thing. i’ve found it better sometimes to let others lead when willing and able, even if a few things get dropped, or (in my case) aren’t done to my spec! as NOS we feel compelled to take on all of it – but guiding from the sidelines (the way you are doing with CB) can be better for all sometimes!

    take care… and good luck…

    Yes, DNOS is doing a good job and her husband is helping out. He’s a Virgo. Can’t say enough good things about Virgo men. The responsibility thing is a curse, isn’t it? Thanks for the words of wisdom.

  6. As they say, “Life is what happens when you make plans” hang in their, strength and endurance are the things that we widows are made of..You are in my thoughts, Pam

    Long time no see. Thanks for stopping by and for the thoughts.

  7. Wow. That made for such compelling reading that I kept skipping ahead a paragraph to see how it all ends. I wish I had a big bag of cash I could send you to help out. Not for CBs sake. For yours. All good wishes. Anxiously awaiting the next chapter.

    The moment you realize that your life would make a good plot line for one of those feel/good sappy dramedys where you’re played by Julia Roberts, and she’ll sit with Oprah on her couch and tell millions of American women how inspiring you are in person – “we talked for hours, Oprah” when she met you to discuss the NYT’s bestseller that this movie was based on … when that happens, you know you are living a life that no one else would want.

    Thanks for the thought.

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