Friday, November 4, 2005

The ties that bind...

Back to the present for now.

There are some things that have happened in the past few days that have completely turned my world upside down. My family is now tearing itself apart, as we speak.

I've never had a normal or especially functional family, but all my life, at least we've always loved each other, and stuck together. I've always been jealous of my friends & their huge, tight-knit Catholic families, but my family has always been there for each other over the years, and I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined any kind of serious feud happening or anything, but after what's happened lately, I don't know what to think anymore.

My great-grandfather; the patriarch of the family, the man who basically raised both me and my mother, is 96 years old, and he's dying. He has struggled and suffered more than any man should ever have to in the five years since my great-grandmother died, and I've had to see the single toughest man I ever knew reduced to a heartbroken invalid, unable to care for himself. Ever since we lost my great-grandma, he's been devastated, and his health has steadily deteriorated ; his mind & his organs are failing him, he's barely cognizant anymore, and about the best we can do for him is to make him comfortable in his last days, so he can finally be at peace.

My mom, my grandmother, my great-uncle, and I have been caring for him round-the clock until last month, when we were finally forced to admit him to a nursing home where he could have the more professional care he now needs. My grandmother (his step-daughter), who is the resident control-freak in the family, insisted we take him to the same home that my great-grandmother was in, so we agreed.
Within a week of his admittance, he was almost dead. The transition to the new environment was a shock to him, and the facility was a long-term medical care home that would poke, prod & examine him every time he had the slightest problem whatsoever. He was wired up to all manner of machinery & was having several episodes per day, and was in danger of having a stroke from the shock & the stress.

So, when it became clear that he was getting worse, his doctor of 40 years finally advised us that there was basically nothing else that medicine could do for him; he was almost 100 years old, and it was just nearing his time. He advised us to let him go to an Alive Hospice, and just try to make him as comfortable as possible until it's his time. My great uncle (his son & power of attorney, and the person who loves him more, and has done more for him than anyone else in the world) agreed, and we took him there a few weeks which time my grandmother completely flipped out. She claimed that we were taking him somewhere to drop him off to die; that we were as good as murdering him.

She said that he needed to be in the nursing home, where, when he finally goes catatonic, they can hook him up to IV's and respirate him artificially & keep him alive basically as long as we see fit...which is about the cruelest thing I can imagine, not to mention an end far too undignified for the man that reared me. We did keep my great-grandmother artificially respirated before she passed away, but it was at my grandmother's insistence again, and mainly agreed upon so as not to further traumatize my great-grandfather, who basically lived for his visits with her. But, since we don't want my great-grandpa to suffer the same way, we've been labeled by my grandmother as cold-blooded murderers.

My grandmother quit speaking to my mom, my uncle & me about 2 weeks ago, but she has somehow brainwashed my grandfather (her husband, not my dying great-grandfather) & my other uncles into taking her side, and now it's gotten
really ugly. I honestly can't understand what the hell they're thinking; I mean, my grandmother has always been a super high-strung control freak, but my uncles & my grandfather are smart, reasonable people. I suppose they all think that somehow the folks at the nursing home can give just give him a magic pill that will make him not be 96 years old anymore & give him all his health back & allow him to live until the year 2525.

So, as if all this wasn't bad enough, my grandmother (or one of her proxies) has been staying at the hospice 24/7, hovering over my great-grandfather like a hawk, barking orders at the nurses & interfering with their treatment so much that she's been thrown out on more than one occasion. Yesterday, when she refused to leave after my great-uncle showed up, she & her husband went crazy & physically assaulted my uncle. My 80 year-old grandfather punched him in the face, and security had to come and break the whole scene up, while my great-grandfather lay on his bed 2 feet away, crying & screaming, totally unaware of where he was or what was happening, almost having a heart attack from all the commotion.

So, now, my grandmother says she's going to sue my uncle for power of attorney (which she won't get), and subpoena both me & my mom to testify (I have no idea about what; maybe she's planning to use the magic pill theory). Meanwhile, we're all out of the will (all fifty-nine cents of it), the entire family is in complete turmoil, my poor momma is caught right in the middle, and my great-grandma is rolling over in her grave as we speak...and I never, ever, in a million years, thought anything like this could ever happen in my family.

And it's not going to end well, because the only thing that would make this end is for us to just let my grandmother have what she wants, just like always, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let her string my great-grandpa up like aqualung just so she can sleep better at night. And my poor momma, who has been at my grandmother's beck and call, and at the mercy of all her crazy whims for 60 years, is going to lose her mother, her father, and her brothers just because she loves her grandpa & doesn't want to see him suffer any more just so my grandmother can go visit him & make herself feel better. It's just unbelievable...

I sat over at my mom's house tonight, and listened to her cry because she didn't know where she was going to spend Thanksgiving, and if she should even bother to buy a Christmas tree this year.

And all the time I spend here, worrying about things I did to myself years ago...that I should just be a man about & get over, like my great-grandpa told me...and taking my family for granted, just like I've done all my life...well, just don't take anything for granted, is my point. It's killing me to watch this happen & know I can't do anything about it. I don't know what's going to happen..but I don't think things will ever be the same again.

And on top of it all, my friend Elaine reminded me today that it's been two years this month since I've so much as asked a girl out on a date. Boy, the holidays are just gonna be a blast...


Blogger chris recalled...

And I thought I had family problems.

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Friday, November 04, 2005 6:12:00 AM  
Blogger Mint Tulip recalled...

That's so awful. It just amazes me that some people can be so unreasonable. My family goes through random bouts of one not speaking to the other, but I can't imagine any of them doing something like that to my grandmother. Except maybe one of my aunts, but no one listens to her anyway. And as for any kind of Hospice workers I've ever met, they've always been really good around here. I hope everything works out and your great-grandpa finds some peace.

Friday, November 04, 2005 6:41:00 AM  
Blogger primus inter pares recalled...

Sounds awful, mate. I study Law to try and resolve situations like that...

I'm praying for you.

Friday, November 04, 2005 7:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jamy recalled...

I'm so sorry your family is going through this. Hospice is undoubtably the best place for your great-grandfather.

I hope you can keep your mom company over the holidays. The best thing you can do is be there for her. Don't worry about what to say. Being there is enough.

Take care.

Friday, November 04, 2005 9:39:00 AM  
Blogger pookalu recalled...

exbf -- that sucks. there's nothing worse than a family you're supposed to support and who's supposed to support you, to stab you in the back. family is generally the only group i always feel an obligation towards, and whom i think should feel obliged to me (unconditional love, thick and thin). idealistic, yes.

reminds me of the generation above me, there's been bad blood for decades now (at least my cousins and i are trying to heal the rift); and my sole surviving grandmother is partially the cause of the turmoil (living in a nursing home at the age of 102, who's responsible, who gets to inherit...the usual shit).

good luck. and, as my friend likes to say (although i always misquote her 'cuz i don't understand), "breathe into the pain."

Friday, November 04, 2005 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger Moon Watcher recalled...

For you:

A king once asked his men, tell me something that will make me happy when I am sad and that will make me sad when I am happy. His men went off to ponder this request and when they returned the king said, well, what have you?
"This too shall pass."

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Pro-Divorce recalled...

I feel for you X. Hang in there and take care of your mom, work out something with mom to assure that the holidays are at least a brief reprieve of what's going on around you.

Talk with her about it, and if you honestly feel like you know what's best for your great-grandfather, step up to the plate and tell everyone to kiss your ass. If you feel in your heart that you're right, don't back down. Stick with your convictions and like moon watcher said, 'this too shall pass.'

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger PAINKEY recalled...

Well, I know how family drama can get especially after an elderly person. Everyone thinks they should have the final say and what not. If he had any last requests or can speak for himself, let him tell her himself. Maybe you should write a letter to her and tell her things she dont see for herself bc she is trying to be too controlling. Nobody wants their loved ones to suffer or die. ITs hard, its the hardest thing to witness first hand or second. When they are that old, there is no place in this world that will make it ok or better for him or anyone. One thing about family, in due time they will talk again. If not, then its probably better that way, you dont have to deal with the shit anymore.
For the holidays, as long as your momma has you, Im sure it will be ok.
Hang in there goose, your wing woman will come along soon;)

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jennifer recalled...

I'm sorry you have to go throught this, X. I have never understood peoples insistance on keeping elderly people alive a few more days/weeks. I *barely* understand when a younger person is on life support - but at least there there's hope fo recovery. I'm glad my whole family knows I want them to pull the plug on me if I'm on machines with no hope of recovery. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Friday, November 04, 2005 2:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jaded&Opinionated recalled...

Often when people are faced with the inevitable death of a parent or loved one, stuff like this happens. I think it's less about being in control than it is that she feels completely out of control and helpless. Her mother is gone, and now her father is on his way out. She can't deal with the idea that she will be, in essence, an orphan even though she's a grown woman with a family of her own. It doesn't mean that she's right, or that her behavior should be excused, but I think she's just feeling afraid, alone and helpless so she lashes out in an attempt to have SOME be able to do SOMETHING about the situation.

Maybe his doctor could gently remind everyone that it's not about sides, it's about your great-grandfather, and that he's going to die no matter where he is. Maybe someone could explain to everyone involved that just because he's still breathing, it doesn't mean he's still "alive." Someone needs to make her face the fact that her dad wouldn't want to suffer just because she can't deal with his passing.

Of course, this is all far easier said than done, but I've played that particular game of dysfunctional family follies a few different times. Those are the sorts of things that helped resolve much of it. Doesn't work every time, but it often helps.

Just my opinion. And for whatever it's worth seeing that I'm a stranger and all, your family will be in my prayers.

Friday, November 04, 2005 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger ExBF recalled...

Thank you all so much for all the kind words; I guess it will pass, one way or another...we'll see what happens...

Friday, November 04, 2005 6:16:00 PM  
Blogger Charlotte recalled...

guh ... well that just makes me sick. i'm so sorry you are going through this right now!

and you know what? who gives a flying fuck how long it's been since you've asked a girl on a date, you're going through hell right now. tell that girl to be a little more sensetive.

Friday, November 04, 2005 6:35:00 PM  
Blogger chick recalled...

:( sorry u going through this x
I hope things get better. I know how u feel, I have been in numerous family problems. I feel for ur mom - please get her something nice for christmas...

on a lighter note, ill be your date for christmas? :-$

Friday, November 04, 2005 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger Manda recalled...

oh sweetheart......

i wish i could give you a great big hug. Elaine can kiss my butt. you'll ask someone out when YOU'RE READY to.

if you need a friend..... you know where to find me. :-)

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger ExBF recalled...

You tell her, Charlotte!

And thank you, Chick, but with my luck, you'd probably just end up with your own color :(

Friday, November 04, 2005 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Joe recalled...

I know exactly what you're going through. What makes perfect sense to you is the opposite of what your Grandmother thinks. Instead of widening the gap you should try and discover the reasons why she feels this way. Perhaps she is thinking about what will happen to her when she is sick and dying. Does she want to be kept alive when she is past death? It is hard to understand how people can't see things in ways that we are so sure about. When my Father was dying it turned out that my sisters and I were all sure of what Dad wanted and guess what? We all had different ideas on the subject. It's as hard as it gets.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger chick recalled...

yea but ill be the last colour ;-)

Saturday, November 05, 2005 8:51:00 PM  
Blogger The Mrs. recalled...

i am very sorry that you are having a rough time right now. i work as a social worker in an emergency room and have to deal with this subject often when bad things happen and family members can't agree on what should be done, if anything at all. it's so important for people to try to make arrangements and let their families know ahead of time exactly what they want and don't want.
this is not going to be an easy ride for you, it is going to be a helluva rollercoaster and with the twists and turns you've already endured, it's bound to make you sick. just remember all rides eventually come to an end. when it does stop you are going to need a little time to regroup. taking care of yourself and your momma is the most important thing. there are a lot of us that read this blog and feel that in some way we have come to know you, at least a little bit. i'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as many others are doing right now. take care.

Sunday, November 06, 2005 8:00:00 AM  
Blogger Glitzy recalled...

I'm so sorry to hear about your hard times. I'm glad that the sane portion of your family is not forcing your great grandpa to live. I don't quite see what doing that would accomplish.

My thoughts are with you. Hopefully there's a silver lining in all of this somewhere.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn recalled...

my heart hurts for you reading this right now..... i hope since i am playing catch up with my reading that all is getting better by now..... i hope...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 2:36:00 PM  

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