Tuesday, July 31, 2007

128 "don't hit her"

I'm not writing as much, not just because I am busy with other things, but because my dad doesn't DO anything anymore. He hardly speaks. He picks his skin, stares at his hands, pees on himself, gets violent when he's frustrated.
Last Sunday, I don't know what set him off, but he started poking at my mother at the dinner table, smacking her arm. My husband grabbed my father's arm and started saying, very firmly, "Don't hit her," over and over, finally saying that if he kept hitting my mother, he'd end up in a nursing home. My dad sat there sullenly like a spoiled child, and then he went to the bathroom for a while. (He has no problem finding my grandmother's bathroom.) When he came out, he went and stood near the back door, wanting to go home immediately, so my mom packed up their stuff and the dog and took him home.
As soon as they were gone, my grandmother freaked out, started crying, getting all dramatic. We had to spend half an hour calming her down. She fusses at my father like he's 3--always wanting someone to wipe his face, fix his plate, he's using the wrong utensil or eating with his hands. I tried to explain to her to LET ALL THAT GO. None of that is important. He can't understand why he's being fussed at and corrected and frankly, who cares? I don't care if he eats with his hands or spills food on the table or puts gravy on his salad. I do care when he smacks my mother, or me, or lashes out in other ways. He only grabs and pinches her arms, not her face (so far), or once in a while her side or back. But it's wrong, and annoying, and it pisses me off to see her bruised. But when he is like that he is so strong--my husband wasn't there the night he flipped out in the restaurant. It's like a dual personality.
When I see him for lunch on Fridays, he recognizes my car and me (not as his daughter, or as "Bert" but as someone he knows) but after shaking my hand, he doesn't talk to me at all. Sometimes he doesn't even LOOK at me again, until we're leaving, and then he wants to know "when are you coming again?"
My mom told me that on Saturday, when she started to go to my grandmother's, my father said he didn't want to go there anymore and that if she made him go, he'd leave and walk home. Clearly he remembered was that he got yelled at there, therefore he doesn't want to return. He doesn't associate being yelled at with hitting my mom. Of course once he got there, he was fine and didn't go home. He was okay on Sunday too, didn't refer to the incident in any way (and did behave).
Friday night, my mom and I were playing a video game in the basement (I joined the Game Club at Big Fish games, so we can buy them for $6.99 rather than $20). My dad came downstairs in his usual confused way. We invited him to sit down and play the game with us. He didn't want to. He went into the other room and stood where the cat usually sleeps on the shelf, but the cat wasn't there (he was on a different shelf). My mom went into that room and showed him where the cat was. She came back and sat with me. We could hear my dad talking to the cat. Then he started swearing as if he had broken something--I don't remember the exact words, but basically oh shit-oh no-look at that-damn it. Actually my first thought was that he had hurt the cat, I don't know why. I don't think he would hurt the cat, he loves the cat.
My mom went in there and he had peed on himself. Not taken it out and peed, just let go where he was. I deliberately sat there and kept playing and ignored it, knowing he was embarrassed. Yelling at him for that does no good. He didn't want to change his clothes or take a shower. Finally my mom got him upstairs and got his pajamas on him, but he wasn't washed. She said he claimed that I was "laughing" at him for peeing himself. (I wasn't. I would never.) He came downstairs again and sat on the stairs watching us play the game, or sitting with his head down. He knows it's wrong to go in his pants and he gets very upset. But we think sometimes he can't find the bathroom. If he would do the little-boy thing and hold himself, it would be a clue and we could get him to the bathroom (there's even one downstairs, not 10 feet from where he peed on Friday).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

127 piles of flesh

My birthday was last weekend (thank you) and we went out to dinner with my parents. My mom gave me the money up front so my dad wouldn't see her pay and have another meltdown. He doesn't care about me spending money, only her.
My mom had a huge bruise on her upper arm. My husband asked her what happened and she said my father did it. As he was shaking her, she told him to stop, that he was hurting her, and he denied it. The next day, when he saw the bruise, he asked her about it, and when she told him that HE did it, he said "no" and walked away.
A couple of days later, the bruise had faded from one huge blotch to a clear hand print.
I am not happy about this at all. I can't be there to protect my mom. In fact, seeing how ineffectual I was at the restaurant when he flipped out, I can' t protect her at all.
He has been doing some funny things, but I don't feel like laughing at them. He gets up in the middle of the night, gets fully dressed including his shoes and then gets back into bed. One morning he was in the bathroom swearing and my mother asked what was wrong. He told her he'd lost his foot. One of his sneakers had come off in the bed while he slept. Some nights he wears pajamas, some nights his clothes, some nights his underwear. He won't brush his teeth. He doesn't shower every day or change his clothes every day. He puts his clothes on over his pajamas, or wears a belt with his pajama bottoms.
It's all funny yes, haha, harmless and silly, but also so sad.
My mom wanted to go to a concert with her friend so I agreed to come over and stay with my dad, an 8 hour odyssey (my mom went out to dinner with her friend first, and the concert was over an hour's drive away). My husband came over for a little while too, and I made dinner (pizza). I made a plain pizza for my father (he won't eat regular pork sausage anymore, only turkey, but my husband and I like it) and one with sausage, peppers and pepperoni for us, figuring if we finished that pizza we'd eat some of the plain. My husband ate his half of the meat pizza, and I ate all but one slice of my half. My father ate all but one slice of the plain pizza.
Perhaps I should have put "ate" in quotes.
It turned out I wasn't in a sausage mood. I like sausage, but sometimes pork makes me sick. I picked some of the sausage off my pieces and gave it to the dog. Yes, I know, I'm the one who goes on and one about how fat the dog is and how we shouldn't feed him from the table. When my husband pointed that out, I gave the rest of my sausage to him.
Meanwhile my father was steadily devouring his plain cheese pieces. I guess my feeding the dog clued him in that the dog was there. He wanted a dish to feed the dog with (not that he could SAY that, but it was Bob-speak that I could figure out). I got the plastic "feed the pets" dish we've had my whole life (Nippy, Streaker, Alf, Patches, Jasper and Ace have all eaten off it) and my father cut up some of his pizza and gave it to the dog (crust and all). I put my and my husband's dishes in the sink, moved my leftover piece of pizza to the other pan and started doing the dishes including the plastic pet dish.
My father sat at the table and looked around. Then he looked on the nearby counter. Finally he got up and stood in front of the stove, where the rest of the pizza was. He looked at the leftover piece with sausage and peppers. "I don't want that," he said, flapping his hand at it. "No." I replied, "you don't have to eat it. It's not for you." He kept standing there looking at the pizza. The serving utensil was right there but I guess he couldn't figure it out. "Do you want another piece?" I finally asked him. "Yeah."
I put another piece on his plate. He sat down, removed the crusts, and put them far away. (Crusts, like grill marks on meat, are fat and he cuts them off and refuses to have them on his plate.) He cut the pizza up into little pieces (copying me, I believe) and then he started swearing because I had taken the dog's dish. I gave it back to him and he fed the entire slice of pizza to the dog. That pissed me off for a few reasons--wasteful, the dog's fat, and now there wasn't enough to take home for another meal.
My father wanted another piece. He indicated this by looking over at the stove, where two lonely pieces resided. Without acknowledging that I knew he wanted more, I put them in the fridge. Then it was another battle to get him to take his pills. Over and over during the meal I'd put the shot glass with his pills into his hand and said "you have to take these" and he'd say "yeah" and put it down. Now the meal was done and the pills were in the shot glass and not in Bob. "Take the pills." "Yeah." "You have to take these pills." "Yeah." Finally my husband got him to take them, I don't know how.
We went into the living room to watch movies. My mom has HBO so we watched some HBO On Demand stuff. Of course my dad didn't like any of it and complained mightily and grumbled and wandered around the house. He came back in with his hands smeared with blood. "Look." He showed us his bloody hands. We cleaned them with a wet cloth but couldn't find the wound. Then my husband saw that my dad's leg was bleeding. So we cleaned his knee and applied a bandaid. Within a few minutes he started digging at the skin on his knee just beneath the bandaid. He'd pull off a chunk of skin and put it on the coffee table. He'd switch to his other knee, and then to either hand, just making these macabre little piles of flesh. (It reminded me a little of an old George Carlin skit, where he talks about hoarding his scabs.) We'd say "stop picking" and then go back to the movie and a minute later he'd be digging. And no, these weren't scabs, these were flesh, tiny chunks of living flesh gouged off by his nails. It was gross beyond words. He would watch the movie for a minute, captivated by a space battle (Serenity) or wizard battle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), or a fat girl (Date Movie) and then lose interest, muttering how he didn't like it.
And if there was a way to entertain him, I would have done it. Even if I put on a baseball game (and yeah, I could have) he'd still rip his flesh, fart and fall asleep (the holy trinity of F's). So why can't I at least be entertained if he's not going to be?
I guess none of this is really exciting, but it's real life. It's not like the movies, where the person suddenly "gets better" for a few magical moments and knows and remembers everyone (my main beef with movies like The Notebook). It's a long slow slide into oblivion, with no brakes.