Sunday, April 28, 2013

And so

As I said, my dad died. It was, on the one hand, physically rather quick. On the other, I think you could say that socially, or psychically, it happened more slowly. He had lived the last month or so alone, after his second wife left him. She did that because he kept these attacks of rage.  He would drink, and then get angry and hostile towards her, and break things, and cut up his feet and suchlike.

I think he raged because his dementia was progressing, and he saw his faculties slipping away, and that freaked him the hell out. So he would drink, which made things worse.

So it turned out that his last month or so was spent alone, and his faculties had declined so that he was no longer able to really read, which would have been a consolation to him. He couldn't hold a thread for that long. Which made conversations with him even more disjointed than they had been in prior years.  He'd still have flashes of wit and stories from many years back, he just couldn't remember well what we had been talking about 5 minutes ago. And that drove him ape.

So Leslie and I and Madelyn, the geriatric care manager Leslie had hired to help us manage him some months back, we would call and check on him. And I'd go and see him each week, and other people would check in too, but in the evenings he was alone, and though he tried to put a good face on it, it was hell for him. But nobody would live with him.

And, in the end, he lost the battle with alcohol, though he fought it valiantly in his own way, without ever availing himself of the armor that AA offered him. Something made him unable to simply say "I'm an alcoholic," though he liked to recount to me a book he had read about an alcoholic who fights the battle and in the novel's conclusion stands up and says "I'm X, and I'm an alcoholic." Dad would tear up as he told me that, but he could never really do it himself, try as he might by other means to not drink.

There is so much he never told me. He had always talked about the problems with his knee from a high school football injury. Only on the last day of his life, in talking with his sister, did I learn that the problem was not so much that he had injured it, but that his dad had told him to tough it out and not go to a doctor. So he limped for 6 months, and by the time he did get medical help his miniscus had been royally fucked. Only on his last day did I learn just how much of an alcoholic bastard dad's on dad was. So he got it honest. 

So much to process.


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