Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life, Money, and the Largest Wound...Part IV

My dream the night before my mother's funeral had come true.  At the funeral, as I tried to extend my arms long enough to wrap around my 3 children to console them, it hit me that the dream was coming true.  They cried their little eyes out...but I could not cry for Mama.  She had been so ready to much tragedy at the end of her life that her will to live had been sucked out of her.  She was in a better place now...away from the hell her life had been the last 10 years.  I was happy for her and felt the joy of her spirit being in heaven now.

My father took her death hard.  He was so lost without her.  We talked alot at night about how much he missed her.  For many months, he would awaken and believe she was there....either on her bed next to him or in her rocking chair in the room...talking to him...and several times I walked in to hear him conversing with someone.  When I asked him who he was talking to, he would say "Marylee", my mother.  He has been on morphine since his accident and though I tried to chalk it up to the medications, at times he would be talking to her and having a conversation I could hear from the next room and it genuinely seemed like he was talking to someone.

I told him the first week of her death that things would change.  I would be there to take care of him, but I could not sugar-coat life like my mother could.  It would be tougher on both of us, but we would be alright.
I even joked about us having a 'bachelor pad'....not noticing that my sister and brother were both listening carefully...worrying about how this would play out in the end.

I have been a bachelor for over 10 years and have had many girlfriends come and go.  Everyone knows my nickname 'Don Juan' and though they think it's funny, I don't like it much....for my kids....or my reputation.
Within a month or two of her death, I met a woman who I cared about.  It was my first online experience with meeting someone and she seemed to genuinely care about me.  She brought clothes and started staying at the house with us.  Daddy liked her and thought she was pretty and it was nice to have a woman in the house to help ease the pain of our loss.  I was taking care of him, but after a few weeks of no sleep and continually running home to help him, I realized we needed some help.  I contacted the new guardian of the estate, my mother's brother, to see if we could get some home-hospice to give us a hand as he was now legally in control of the estate.
We got a really nice lady to come help during the day, which made it easier for me to work longer hours at work.  At first, my father told me he didn't like her and was ready to fire her like all the many field-hands we had gone through since his accident.  I told him he needed to give her a few weeks, and if he still felt that way then, we would try someone new.  She ended up winning him over to my delight and things went smoothly for a few months.  The girlfriend stayed with me and this new home-hospice nurse got along well with her.  We both were beginning to heal from my mother's passing.  Things seemed to be working out for us.

I was in real estate since my return and one of the things we had needed to do was sell the large lakehouse as my father was unable to go and enjoy it any longer and the family had grown tired of it.  I had begun marketing the property and continually drove to the lake to check on things.  We had an offer or two, but it was an expensive property and there was no need to hurry and lose money.  My first indication of the days ahead came when I drove down to check on the property and noticed a different real estate company's sign in the yard.  At first I thought it was a joke, then a mistake, then I drove home as soon as possible to find out what the heck was going on.  I found out that my uncle, the executor of the estate, had decided to take the listing of the property from me and hire an agent from the lake who worked at a much smaller real estate firm.  I was not even allowed to get a referral, a standard thing in the business of real estate.  I was not even given a reason why from my uncle....which concerned me greatly.   The property even sold with a couple of months from a family that had seen it in one of my firms advertisements months earlier.   It would be a sign of things to come...

About this time, the girlfriend ended up needing to go back to her home as she had begun to have bouts of depression and mental anxiety due to the fact she could not afford to get her medicine in the last year.  Though she had told me about this in the beginning, her depression was getting worse and I knew she needed help.  I got her enrolled in a free medicine program that would get her pills shipped to her home and took her home.  It was a sad time for me.  I really cared about her and though things did not work out, I still talk to her from time to time to see if she is doing well.  She was very beautiful and loving while she was with me, but we just weren't meant to be.  We both knew that...

A month or two passed and I had been staying up with my father at night trying to take care of him.  His colostomy was acting up and I was going without sleep alot and trying to work during the day full time.  I decided maybe we needed night time help as well.  I called my uncle and we got a home-hospice company to start sending people over for the night shift.  For the first time in many months, I was able to get a full night's sleep with no interruptions.  I also could still be there to help if any emergencies occurred.  Even though we had help now, my father would still call for me to do things as he had become dependent on me to do things for him.

A few months later, my father got ill and had to be hospitalized.  He was having heart problems and kidney problems and got to the point where he had to be sustained with an oxygen machine.  Because he had not put anything in his life will about sustaining his life with a machine, my siblings and I had to make the decision to pull the plug.  We all actually said goodbye and had all the grandchildren come in and tearfully say their goodbyes as well.  I remember my youngest telling me she couldn't tell her Papa goodbye and cried her eyes out tellling me she would not go.  I told her that it was ok and that her Papa had always loved her so much....and always would...and that he was going to heaven to dance with her Nana soon.  He would have his hand and both his legs and Nana would be smiling and waiting on him.  It made her feel better.

The plug was pulled and somehow, once again, he defied the odds and slowly recovered over a period of several weeks.  The doctors once again said he was a miracle man.....something we all already knew.  
However, when he came home the first week he was not himself.  He was very angry at times and even cussed Smokey out several times for no reason....telling him he was not his buddy anymore and to get the hell off his property and never come back.  Smokey was hurt and shocked, since he had been a loyal fieldhand and friend of the family for years now.  I pulled Smokey to the side and told him to just keep coming back and to not take what he had said to heart.  He did, but for several days my father continued to be mean and spiteful and act like a totally different person.  He acted like a mad animal enraged with rabies.  I remember how upset it all made me witnessing his change.  I wrote an email to an ex-girlfriend who had asked how he was doing.  In it I told her that as his oldest, most loyal child it was hard for me to idly sit by and watch him go into dimentia, which he appeared to be doing.  Somehow, a friend of the family got a copy of the email from her desk at work and took it to my Uncle, the executor of the estate.  He took the email and had a meeting with my brother and sister, who, with years of jealousy and the worry that somehow I may get something in the inheritance they would not, determined that I had to go.  They actually served me with legal papers to leave the home and my father.  My father was enraged by the audacity of it all.  He wanted and needed me there.  The problem was that after my mother's death, they had convinced my father that because he needed someone to pay his bills and keep up with his fortune, my Uncle should be given Power of Attorney over the estate.  My father now had no power over any of his property or money.  My uncle was now legally the decider of everything in his life and everything he owned.  My father asked me to fight them in court and I did go with his brother, who told them just how much I had done for my father, and I told them how I had vowed to my mother on her deathbed to take care of him,  but basically the Executor of the Estate can make someone leave for no reason whatsoever if he chooses....and that was that.   I was forced to move out.

Since then my uncle has done many things to exile me from the rest of the family....especially my father.  I think somewhere in my life he became very jealous of my relationship with my mother, the money of the family,  and the fact that he has never married or dated much and I've had many girlfriends he could only dream about having.....I really don't know of his motive....just that my mother is turning over in her grave with anger over it all.
I have gone from being my father's fierce protector to an exile who has to watch from a distance helplessly as his health goes downhill.  It is a sad ending indeed, to a great battle we both fought that brought us closer than I ever imagined.   He never told us he loved us growing up on the farm...he was never a very affectionate man...he was a man's man.....but after his accident,  I will cherish the memory of telling each other 'I love you' every day and night and even kissing him on his forehead as I left to rest.  We became great friends through it all and got closer than I ever imagined being with him.

Here's to you, McCloud 'Mack' Robinson.....the survivor of the Largest Wound in history and the Largest Wound ever covered with skin have been an inspiration to thousands with your courage and ability to survive come what may......I will always be proud to have been your son and you will always be my 'Daddy'...I love you  now more than ever...and it has nothing to do with your money.