Chapter Thirty-Six – No Time – In Mom’s Eyes
2004 – I am 55, Scott is 30, Julie is 27
My Dad is dying. I can’t bear it, I can’t believe it. And it’s going too fast. There’s no time left for me to tell him how much I love him. No time left to tell him everything I need him to know. And there’s no time for Scott to show him he’ll get better. Scott is tormented by it. He’s losing it more and more every day. Julie and I, and my sisters, have been taking care of Dad for the last four months, spending time out at the farm, making sure he’s as comfortable as he can be. Every time I go out there, he’s a little bit worse. He’s losing weight rather fast, won’t hardly eat anything. And he has these coughing attacks that scare the daylights out of me. He can’t breathe, he can’t hardly walk anymore, and I’m losing him. We’re all losing him.
Julie is out there now, she’ll be there for two more days. I don’t know how she does it. It’s not even her dad, but I think she feels closer to him than some of his own children. Scott is doing a little better physically, thank God, because we do need Julie’s help with Dad. Julie’s been taking care of Scott for a few months now, bathing him, cooking for him, trying to keep him on track, and positive. But it’s been hard for her. She acts so strong and tough, but I know it has beaten her down a bit. And now this, now she’s taking care of MY Dad. Taking care of my son, taking care of my Dad. She takes care of everybody, and I wonder when she’s going to take care of herself. I worry about her. She’s so smart and talented, I just want her to be free. I want her to do something for herself, for her own life. Before Scott came, all those years ago, she was starting to make a plan for her life. And it sounded exciting. She was going to New York, or Italy, or even Portland. She was going to write books, and be an entrepreneur. She had so many hopes and dreams, and plans. But she stopped dreaming and hoping and planning the day Scott got here. Her entire focus switched to him. And now it’s on her Grandfather. Now she wants to be with him. Help him. Help us all. She’s got two jobs, her brother, her Grandpa, and the commuting between it all. I really don’t know how she does it. I’m in awe of her, yet again.
“Oh, honey, what’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“Um…oh, Mom, I’m just so sad.” Julie is crying, it sounds like she’s been crying for a while, and it’s hard for her to speak. My heart breaks for her, and I’m worried about my Dad too.
“Honey, what HAPPENED? Are you okay? Is Gramps okay?”
“I guess so, I don’t know Mom. It’s not good. He…can’t…he…isn’t able to…” She breaks off in a sob, and I don’t know what she’s saying. It’s frustrating and I’m worried. I don’t know what to say, so I wait. “Mom, it’s just, he had a hard time in the bathroom tonight. He couldn’t wipe his own ass – or that’s how he put it anyway, or screamed it when he came out. Oh, Mom, he’s so ashamed, so embarrassed, so sad and angry and upset. And I can’t make it better. Oh, Mom, I’m so sorry for him, for me, for us all. He’s going too fast, just too fast. And he can barely walk, Mom. He’s so mad. He hates that tumor and I want to cut it off for him, but I can’t. He gets his knife out all the time and asks me to cut it off, and I just want to do it. I can’t stand how unhappy he is, I can’t stand his pain, Mom. Oh, Mom…he’s so upset. I had to clean him like I did for Scott. He didn’t want me to. I told him about doing it for Scott and he finally let me. He was CRYING, Mom, CRYING. I just can’t take it right now. I need my Mom. I needed to talk to you, tell you about it. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to worry you. I don’t want to make you worry. I’m sorry. I just needed to get it out. I just HATE this, WHY HIM? He’s supposed to live forever, Mom, FOREVER. I don’t want to lose him, Mom, I can’t bear it. He’s the only father I’ve ever known and it just hurts so bad. And he was so upset, so embarrassed. I hate that for him. He’s so angry, and in so much pain. He only had a few minutes in between cough attacks today, Mom, it was a really rough day for him, and it had to end like this. I just don’t know what to say anymore, I just don’t know what to do to make him feel better about any of it. I can’t really help him. And I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“God, Julie, you don’t have anything to be sorry for. It’s a good thing you’re there for him, especially today. At least you know what to do. If me or my sisters were there we probably would have freaked out a lot worse than you. You did a good job, honey. I’m so proud of you. It’ll be okay, I promise. We’ll figure it out, I promise. Do you want to come home early? I can call somebody else to come take your place, or come over there myself.”
“No, Mom, I don’t want to leave here at all. Until he does. I don’t want to miss a moment of his life ever again. I don’t want to leave him, I don’t want him to feel this way with anybody else. I don’t want him to be humiliated again. I want to stay here, but I know I can’t. And it’s killing me.”
“Honey, you need a break. I understand how you feel, but it’s not possible for you to stay, you know that.”
“I know. I just…I just don’t want to leave him. I love him.”
“I know you do, honey. Try and get some sleep tonight. Let me know how things are in the morning. I’ll have someone come out if you need help. We’ll figure it out, I promise. Just try and get some rest tonight. Tomorrow’s another day. It’ll be okay.”
Even as I say the words, I know it won’t be okay. It’ll never be okay again. Julie is broken, and my Dad is dying. My son is struggling with his life, I am lost in mine. Nothing’s okay, or ever going to be okay again.