Friday, April 3, 2009

He is 95.

You know why my blog always talks about whichever dude I'm into at the moment and never any heavy stuff? Because this is my escape from the heavy stuff. But, I'm so fucking angry and hurt that it has to go somewhere, so here.

I live with and take care of my 95 year old grandfather. I have lived with him practically my whole life. My mom has done all of the housework and groceries and EVERYTHING that whole time. Even when he wasn't living with us, she'd clean his house and buy groceries. Does he support me? Sure. He bought this house for me. I don't pay rent or utilities. He pays my car insurance and until last October, my gas. He has paid for school and books, not all of it, but some. But I don't not help out. I have worked. I've used my own money for home repairs. I took care of getting a new roof put on after a hail storm screwed ours up. I have driven him to doctor's appointments. Made sure the water was turned off in the kitchen, locked the front door, SHUT the front door. I have dealt with paying his bills when he has needed help. There isn't anything really that I haven't done, wouldn't do or am currently not doing to help him. (Ok, so I draw the line at wiping his ass and showering, but, I'm sorry...I just can't. But I'd be the one to call the home health aide.)

Things turned rough in July. Mom, Little Man and I went on vacation. Not far away, not without notice. We told him where we were going, left Post-Its with number on the cabinets. I arranged for my (non bio) sister to come in EVERY DAY to check on him. She lives in far, far South Town from here. She did it anyway because she loves him too. We were gone two or three days before he started calling around trying to find us. Saying he didn't know where we were or anything. Untrue! Notes on the cabinets. My aunt calls my cell phone and asks me to call her. When I do, she rips into me for leaving him there with nothing and him being worried and he has no food and blah blah blah. Did I mention she's in Arizona and has NO clue what goes on in this house? I had already talked to him, he was fine. Called my sister and she repeated he was fine. He had been bringing food into the house. Her boyfriend had taken the trash out, they did dishes. Everything was fine, he had just forgotten we went out of town. My grandmother was upset, my great aunt three towns up the road was upset (and she knows nothing either because shewon't lower herself to visit or spend time with anyone here). My great aunt who lives less than a mile away was coming by and bringing food. He was FINE. My aunt threw a giant hissy fit and said she was going to put him in a home. She cursed at me and Mom. When I told her she couldn't treat me that way, she screamed at me "I'll talk to you however I want you ungrateful little bitch." And I hung up on her, turned all the cell phones off and went on my way. I returned her Christmas present to me, I returned my grandmother's present to me, and I barely spoke to my aunt when she was here.

Present Day. My aunt has been trying to force my grandfather into a nursing home, to go live with my 95 year old grandmother who can't take care of herself, or to move to Arizona to live with her. She came down to take him to my grandmother's in March and had a helping hand in taking his keys away, which she now denies. She does not have daily interaction with him since she lives so far away and visits for 30 minutes twice a year, if that. Her daughter lives in this town and refuses to visit. She did not know he was on oxygen, she did not know about his health. It, frankly, is none of her business on a day to day basis. All she should be concerned about is "Is he healthy? Is he fed? Is he happy?". And the answers are yes, yes, and yes. How do I know? I drive him to the doctor and go in with him. I shop for food and, while I don't always cook it because he likes soup from cans, I do cook. And if he weren't happy, I'd know that too.

My grandfather will be 96 this year. He has atrial fibrillation and his heart fills 45 percent of his chest cavity. He has survived prostate cancer. He has untreated Parkinson's because it was just diagnosed, but he's had it for years. His memory is not good. He sundowns. He is shaky while walking, yet refuses to use a cane or walker despite being told to by doctors. He is on continuous oxygen, which he also refuses to use all the time. Until March, he was driving. His doctor says he does not need to be in a nursing home, he wouldn't last 60 days. I believe this. He is stubborn and does not want to accept help. He does not want anyone to clean his piles of stuff or get rid of anything. I understand this, it's part ofthe dementia.

Why do I help? I love him. I don't want him to be unhappy. I want him to retain as much independence as he can. Will I continue to help? YES. I do his laundry, drive him around, cook. Everything he will give up and let someone else do, I DO. I consider it an even trade.

Where am I going with this? Today Adult Protective Services came to the house, on an allegation that I (and my mother) am neglectful and abusive. He told the woman that these allegations are unfounded but that I am his primary caregiver. I am 28 years old and am fully responsible for my entire house. Why does it matter that he named me? If they decide to press charges, I am the one who goes to jail, who is punished. Oh, and my entire extended family hates me. Not only have I been named a bad mother, now I am just a bad person.

People ask what I do for a living. How do I answer that? I don't get paid for this. I just say I'm an elderly care-taker. I never get paid, I don't have benefits, and I NEVER have time off. Even when I am gone from the house I worry. "Did he leave the stove on or burn something up? Has he fallen? Is the water running, the door open?"

People ask how I cope. My answer? It's an honest one. "My liquor bill has gone waaay up." I've never been a big drinker, ever. These past weeks I have used every invitation to go out, to get away.

In 15 days I will go see my therapist. I will pay her $125 for validation, for her to tell me that I am a good person, more people should be like me and there is nothing wrong with me, perhapsI should not drink as much. $125 for something MY OWN FAMILY should tell me. I'd rather take that money and leave. Except I can't. If I leave, he dies. How do I balance it? I don't, I can't.