Update by Richard Bleil
This will be an odd post. I’m sure opinion will be a large part of it, but largely it’s an update from a couple of days ago when I posted about my father wanting to end it all.
Okay, for my new readers, let’s start with a little bit of background. Many years ago, I came to realize that nothing I ever did could make my father proud of me. I was emotionally abused ever since I was a kid. For years, my family, and my father in particular, ignored my requests to respect me, such as asking that my father stop using a derogatory term that frankly I cannot even type while in my presence. His response was to intentionally use it more just to aggravate me. When I was weeks from earning my doctorate, I asked dad, begged him really, for a father/son portrait to be taken, but he refused. That was when I realized that my efforts were for naught.
For years, I hadn’t heard from my father, sister or anybody in my family. My mother died about ten years ago, and even then, I rarely heard from any of them. Yes, I know I could have called them, but the reality is that I had. The problem is that every time I did reach out, I was criticized and belittled for it; I hadn’t called often enough, or I wasn’t going home to visit when in reality, they could have just as easily reached out or visited me. It became apparent that there was no respect, and the emotional abuse continued and became so apparent that I decided I could no longer make the effort. I stopped. I stopped visiting first, then I stopped calling.
As an example, in Indiana, I received an unexpected letter from my sister. As it turns out, my nephew was about to have a ceremony in the air force, some kind of officer induction ceremony, and the letter was an invitation to attend. I received it, quite literally, the day before the ceremony. Based on the post stamp, it was mailed a day before that. She didn’t call, she sent a letter via mail literally two days before the ceremony. So, she made her gesture; did she really want me there?
Four days ago, I received a text from my sister asking if it was still my phone number, and if so asked if I would call. She informed me that my father, at 88 and living alone since my mother passed away, decided that he had had enough of this life. He wanted to die. Not suicide, just die. She claims that he stopped taking medicines (diabetes being the worst condition from which he suffers) and stopped eating, and that he wanted to see nobody, wanted no help until he was ready to be admitted into hospice.
Apparently, that includes me. I’m his only son, and my sister is his only other child. His respect for me is so great that, many years ago when he put together his will, me made the executor of the will my brother-in-law.
I guess my brother-in-law is like the son he always wanted.
So, I have spent the past four days (well, three depending on how you count it) thinking about what to do about this news. Do I drive out and try one more time? I can’t afford it, really, and as it turns out I wouldn’t have arrived on time anyway. Plus, I’m stuck with the knowledge that he didn’t want to hear from me.
I know I have at least one friend that would argue that point, but I’ve no doubt in my mind. He decided he wanted to die, but he also decided not to try to contact me before doing so. If he did want to talk with me, if it were important for him to rebuild that bridge, he would have.
Still, I had decided, maybe a day ago, that while I cannot visit him in person, I would call him. I didn’t think he would answer the phone; he never does. Or, did, I guess. But I still recall the “secret code” we used so he would know it was us when we called. Apparently, he was still sharp in his mental faculties, so I imagined he would have remembered, but I still doubt he would have spoken. He didn’t call, he didn’t ask my sister to call, and as far as I know, my sister didn’t offer to help him connect with me, or he refused if she did.
Today, I received a text from a number that my phone did not recognize that said, “Hey Rich, just FYI, they have admitted your dad into Hospice tonight.” It sounds like my brother-in-law, but the fact that my phone didn’t recognize the number is a tribute to how little they tried to even keep me informed of changed phone numbers. No mention of which hospice facility, if he’s alert, if I can call or what the number is. I take this to mean that my window of opportunity to try to call has closed, and I’m stuck trying to figure out how I feel about this. I guess dad got what he wanted, or at least, avoided what he didn’t seem to want. I feel like I’m supposed to feel bad about this, and maybe the reality hasn’t yet set in, but I really don’t feel as bad as I think I should.
Honestly, at this point, I have no idea what I feel.