My parents were always in control, large and in charge, vivacious, head strong, vibrant; and no matter if they were right or wrong….they were right! Do NOT argue that point with them. My father was the supreme patriarch of our family, superseded only by his father – until my grandfather passed. My father was the eldest of three; he got his way and you did not question him. Some people say he was a punk, they aren’t too far off. My mother was an only child of divorced parents, she has a half sister and half brother. Mom was a spoiled child monetarily. Mom was shallow, judging us by external values rather than providing us with inner self worth. It was always about the show rather than the inner value or inner worth. She was a very critical woman, unforgiving to those who hurt her. Mom was headstrong and always right, her opinion was what was important. Period! I love them both, it took years to realize I love them. There were 9 of us, 4 died in infancy. Even though they predeceased us, we heard enough about them that one would have thought they were born and dying all the time. Mom was never able to accept their deaths. My Dad was almost unfeeling about them. Dad had a lot of trouble with emotions, I am sure he had them though. His reaction was punky and cynical with sophomoric humor and snide remarks that left me feeling very small much of the time.
They both had similarities in their childhoods: they were abused physically and emotionally and sexually. They were both scarred and never knew what to do with their frustration and anger. Dad’s parents moved from Germany to USA where Germans were treated badly, leaving all family behind she birthed my Dad then my special needs aunt, and much later my very pampered spoiled uncle. They had a farm and worked hard, my grandmother was not happy, she carried her anger to her death bed. My grandfather, an engineer, made it up to her by making lots of money and providing her her dreams and desires. Her anger was taken out on her elder 2 children in cruelness and abuse. My uncle was my grandmother’s beloved spoiled child; while my father was my grandfather’s favorite and equally spoiled child. My Aunt was the second child, the one with needs, the one who caused problems just by being special needs. In real life my Aunt is a warm wonderful person, she had emotional issues, but I love that woman to pieces. She had Aspergers Autism. I am fascinated by her memory. She is a hoot! Aunt Peg was briefly married, but the family squashed it and we never saw my uncle again. I still remember him, sitting on his lap as he played with us. Anyhow, all that aside, my Mom’s parents divorced when she was 3. Grandpa was a writer and he and Nana loved to travel. They had a sailboat and sailed the east coast. they also enjoyed partying with the circle of well known writers of that time. Life was good. But, as it happens far too often, Grandpa fell in love with his young secretary and left Nana for her. Grandpa was not too fond of children or women (except for obvious reasons and house keep.) Still he married his secretary, Grandma, she was warm and wonderful and loving, as was my Nana. My Nana remarried a man who did well with his career as a stockbroker. PoppyBob was not fond of his stepdaughter and abused her terribly in many ways. Mom was also sent to boarding schools, out of the way, rejected by family. Mom had the best of lessons in equestrians, piano, dance, etc. Fancy clothes and refined schooling led her to her external view of life and shallow idea of what love is. Love got mixed up with abuse, money, sex, appearance, status; nothing inner.
They live in a home in NJ, and all 5 of us children live far away. This was our way to escape the insanity and put it to rest, no more abuse. Some left via college and began lives that took them away. I outright left at the age of 18. It had gotten to be too much for me and I had to go. That was not the right way to do it, but I cannot go back and undo. Anyhow, we all left, and my parents secluded themselves into their large home, they did not seem to upset at their children all moving far away.
Dad will be 87 in a matter of weeks, Mom just turned 83. They are ill, and my Mom is falling and getting progressively more injured. This year alone she took a spill and got 13 staples in her head, then she hurt herself in another fall, then recently a tumble smashed her nose and fractured a rib that punctured her lung. My Mom is made of special stuff, no matter what she comes bouncing back. Her brain is not made of the same and we notice increasingly significant changes in her cognition. She is very cute and adorable and loving, I am still getting used to her saying “I love you” to me. Thankfully she is forgetting some horrible memories and is more accepting of life as it is. Dad has COPD and is in and out of the hospital with increasing frequency. Even though his house is equipped with oxygen and stair lift, he still is too tired to do much. Without oxygen he has episodic confusion. He is frail and weak and just not catching on to his mortality. They are both underweight and live as hoarders in a large house that has become a danger. Of course we had to all step in, and are in the process of learning that these once ferocious lions are no longer to be feared, but loved and guided and cared for. They are weak and very afraid of the loss of control, they are fighting the eventual losing it all and moving into an arena of increased care. For now Mom lives with one brother in a warm area. She is content and childlike and enjoying being fed and pampered and assisted in her daily care. She is accepting for now. Next week my brother in bringing my father to his home. My father gets confused as to whether he is wintering in a warm place or buying a new home and living near lots of family there. He alternates between resignation, feeling betrayed by age and family, anger, and relief that he will finally be helped and he can lay down the shroud of strength. Dad thinks he will be flying back and forth between homes, which is implausible due his declining health. Plans are set to close the house up in the next 2 months and selling it. It is the best move, but I feel so sad for these weak susceptible frail old people, who inside are vibrant 20 year olds with shiny plans of conquering the world. Life got in the way of the plans they had made for life, and now it is nearing the end and all their best laid plans lay shattered and unfulfilled across the floor of their life. They were not able to get over their anger of their childhoods, unable to get beyond setbacks to move beyond, couldn’t see beyond the pain to make new plans and move forward and create happy lives to reach fulfillment. They discovered too late that money and external values mean nothing and lead to another generation of frustration and pain and separation. They preached and preached the Catholic faith and Mary as our queen and mother of God and they never caught on to God’s real message and love and grace and forgiveness, mostly His love!!!!!! Oh what potential their lives would have had. Leave their anger at the foot of the cross, understand the love of a Father that has no bounds and is freely given. It is not yet too late for them to find peace unspeakable and joy unboundable. I think of myself, my future, my time of being the fragile elder. Will I have alienated family, will I be too headstrong to accept help, will I be alone, or conveniently put aside in long term care? Scary scary stuff. So so so sad to watch.