Shit My Dad Says (that I wish was funny)

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

             It’s sort of a downer to go from the excitement of doing fun comedy gigs in the US and getting paid a decent wage, to the other reality of being baby-sitter for a debilitated dad who can scarcely get out of bed. He has defied the odds by hanging around as long as he has, but his declining condition just makes him that much more anxious to say “check please!” What has been most difficult for me, yet most entertaining in a curious way, is the ever-increasing dementia that causes him to say outrageous things or ask  completely off-the-wall questions. This may all come from the daily doses of medication the hospital gives him to make sure that he sleeps about 12-14 hours a day. You don’t have time to feel shitty about your situation if you’re asleep more than half the day, right? I think that’s their thought process.

                My dad has a full-time carer who comes in five days a week, spending 6-7 hours a day catering to his basics. It’s not an easy job, but one that he enjoys, because he genuinely likes my dad, enough that helping him (sometimes manually!!) in his digestion is just done as part of the day’s work. Given the long, sometimes arduous days, plus commuting 30 miles each way from his home to the hospital, plus having a wife and family, it’s understandable that he would want this week off when I’m in the US so he can have a breather. My dad has just said this morning he wants to fire him for taking off without telling him. This statement from someone who recently asked my brother “Is Brian dead?” In fairness, he’s also asked me the same question about my brother. 

             He was told many times over the last week that his carer was taking time off, but the expert geologist who used to be able look at a rock and tell you its age and full history, now has trouble remembering what he might have   been told, or even things he’d said, a few seconds ago. Recently when I was talking to him on the phone, he yawned while saying something, and when I asked what he’d just said, he replied “I don’t know.”  His selective memory also allows him to remember incidents from 67 years ago in WWII, but ask him what he had for lunch, for that matter, ask if he had lunch, and chances are he won’t be able to answer that. So of course he would have forgotten that his carer was going to be gone for a week.

             It’s been tough enough on him, with my mom being the first to go, and many years ago, my brother and I worried that if she went first, he’d be totally lost and retreat into a shell. That prediction has mostly come true, but if he hadn’t qualified to be in a Veterans‘ hospital where the government pays for his treatment and lodging, the only consolation is he’d probably be out of his misery by now. 

              At varying times, he has asked “What’s (name of person from the past) doing?” when sometimes it’s a person none of us have seen in 30 years. He once even asked, “What do you hear from the 72nd Street gang?” I could only assume this was referring to the kids he hung out with when he was growing up in Brooklyn, some 20 years before I was born. He likes to ask why I didn’t marry a certain woman from my past, which doesn’t make him totally wrong in asking, since I cocked up three marriages along the way. He’s frequently told me I should have been a professor, and yesterday told me I should have started a company, which I’d never heard before.

               Today he yelled at me, something he hasn’t done since I was about 19, for adjusting his bed so he could see the TV better. He was always a bit of an asshole when he’d get woken up, so this shouldn’t have been a surprise, especially since he’d yelled at the nurses a few minutes earlier when they came in to change his bed. And since nearly all the nurses and hospital staff are of some non-white ethnicity, he manages to throw in a racist word or two for the simple reason that he can

                Pete Townshend had it right when he wrote “I hope I die before I get old.” Though my living across the Atlantic has kept me from experiencing the full onslaught of my parents‘ conditions and behaviors, what I’ve seen has made me dread the thought of living much past 70. If getting old means being both a burden and a prick to others, please let me die in a head-on collision within the next ten years or so! 

                 My dad’s condition is certainly nothing like that of Terry Schialvo, the terminally ill woman from a few years back to whom GW Bush and a bunch of religious twats hid behind the bible as reason for disallowing her husband to pull the plug on her. However, we do have a person here whose condition will only get worse, whose body and mind are shutting down, who’s made all the contributions to society he’s going to make, who’s made people happy for most of his life but now only makes himself and others around him miserable. How horribly inhumane is it to put a medically-induced end to the suffering? The zealots might say “What gives you the right to play God,” but would God want anyone to suffer like this? Oops, sorry, gotta go and tend to him because he’s peeing, a frequent and purportedly simple act that causes him an inordinate amount of pain!        

One Response to “Shit My Dad Says (that I wish was funny)”

  1. Michael H. Lake Says:

    I have always liked your dad

    Sorry to read about your dad, Brian. I have always liked him, even when my own father would complain about some inane comment your dad would make at the Redlands Footlighters, I would defend your father. After all, his weird humor did sprout in fertile ground. But I’m really sad to read about your mom. Like Dylan sang, “She’s the brains behind Pa.”

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