Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some promises can't be kept...and should never be made.

It's been one year to the day since the photo in the post below was taken...the last time I saw Pop. The PTSD from nearly seven years of caring for him 24/7 is still there as I said but through all of the therapy I've been through as well as all of the self induced attempts at sui-slide by massive quantities off dope of all descriptions...many attempts of again trying to do it (cleaning up)all alone just as I tried to take care of him without help I have FINALLY FOR THE FIRST TIME in a year been able to look at that photo without breaking down...without feeling like a failure because I lost it and couldn't care for him as I promised him I would do until he passed.

I have never told anyone what I'm about to tell you right now and it breaks an oath I made with Pop seven years ago while he was still in the hospital recovering from the initial stroke which has left him paralyzed ever since.

We were sitting outside Dell Webb Memorial in Sun City West...just the two of us...alone. He in a wheelchair and me sitting next to him on a picnic bench around sunset...a father and son who, for the preceding 25 years had for the most part been estranged having only seen each other a handfull of times yet were thrust back into each other's lives by a catosrophic health condition. The day he had his stroke I was living in Santa Rosa, CA and in the midst of setting up my own production facility to begin manufacturing my own line of custom bass guitars...something I had dreamed of all my life and I was on the cusp of making that dream a reality...then my phone rang.

Long story short...I flew over to Phoenix immediatly to be by his side at my mother's request and there we were sitting outside alone...

During the course of our conversation...alone...man to man...father to son he made me promise him on the souls of our ancestors in Heaven that I would never, ever allow him to be placed in a nursing home and that he would take his last breath at home and that I would close his eyes and mark the sign of the Cross on his forehead and send him to the next life. He then told me his final wishes for burial etc and I vowed to him that I would carry out those wishes to the letter and never, ever allow anyone to deviate from those wishes.

I flew back to Santa Rosa after that visit, dismantled the production facility which was nearing completion, sold off everything I could, packed up everything I owned and moved over to Sun City West and arrived one day before his release from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day. I spent the next six and a half years at his side every day caring for his every physical, emotional and spiritual need...the first six months I slept at his feet on the floor. I bathed him, fed him, helped him in the bathroom, dressed him, took him to every known specialist and therapist in the valley, excercised him, watched untold 100's of Mash reruns with him, argued with him, laughed with him, cried with him, even watched a war in the desert with him. We, in many ways, became one to a point where I lost myself. I lost my dreams, my friends, a nine year relationship with a woman I loved, I gave him everything.

Around the four year mark my mother also had serious health conditions requiring multiple surgeries and hospital stays and I split my time between both of them...still trying to be super son and do it all alone. Of my three older siblings, only my sister lifted a finger to help by flying out a few times a year to give me a week here or week there off from my daily duties but even those were no rest as I was still trying to maintain my guitar business out of the garage of a pink house on a cul-de-sac in Sun City West and while my sister was out I'd be flying to music industry trade shows and "working" so I litertally had not one day "off" from any responsibilities for many years. I spent many a night at my desk out in that garage after I finally got both parents settled down to sleep which generally was just before sunrise weeping alone in anguish and I began drinking heavily at first then using speed to keep going...first in my coffee...then snorting and finally smoking it. Having had many brushes with substance abuse in my past ever since I was tweleve as a matter of fact I was hooked right off the bat. I "managed" to keep this existence going through my growing addiction. About a six months into my heavy addictive period I was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, was facing trial and up to 15 years in prison if convicted and acccepted a plea bargain and placed on two years probation with random drug testing. I went to a private rehab for seven weeks as my sister came out and began packing my folks up and putting the house up for sale and shortly after I was released from rehab they moved back to NY with my sister and I was left here, unemployed, broke, living in a furnished studio apartment with a murphy bed in the wall and still on probation, forbidden to leave the state, just turned 50 years old and Pop was placed in a nursing home where he remains to this day...now down to 106 lbs, 87 years old, paralyzed and with increasing dementia. Mom is in an assisted living facility and my sister is helping them both daily while also caring for her 93 year old mother in-law in another nursing home, her own sons and grandsons and husband of 34 years.

That's about it...that really concludes the story almost...if you care to read on further then I invite you to start reading and following the next blog I started one year ago from about the point I ended this post.

I called it "A Divine Catharsis" and you can read it by clicking HERE

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's been a year now...

This weekend marks one year since my sister moved my pop back east and thus ending my six and a half year run as my Pop's 24/7, live-in caregiver. He's in a nursing home with increasing dementia, still paralyzed and in poor health while my mom lives in an assisted living facility nearby with my sister living in between the too assisting with both. I miss him very much...