Well, it's International Babylost Mother's Day. How did you get to spend yours? Me, I got to sit through a Christening.
We got through it. Kind of. We're home now anyway - M's playing a mindless video game. Me, I'm staring at the screen trying to sort through what I'm feeling right now.
Mom was in town for the family event. Dad claimed he "wasn't feeling well" and didn't make the trip. Tomorrow starts cancer treatments for him. More on that in a minute. Maybe.
During the ceremony, where they also baptized seven other little ones (is this how they do it these days?), there was, of course, a set of twins.
"Oh look, does she have twins?!"
"I guess mom."
"Oh she DOES. She does have twins. Awwww....."
M's grip tightens on mine.
"Oh do you think they're twins or just siblings?"
M : "Who the F*CK cares. Would you STOP!"
Yes. Yes. You did just witness my husband dropping the F bomb. On my mom. In Church. And she deserved it. Thankfully, no clap of thunder. No lightning-singed spouse. Phew.
"Well, I just thought they were cute that's all."
"STOPPPPPPPP!" (This time it's me. And I think I added a JFC in there too)
And soon its over and we are reminded yet again that my parents speak without thinking. Think without thinking of anyone else, least of whom our daughters. I can't take it personally. Dad is too obsessed with how many sodas he can drink now that "my sugar's the least of my worries. I gots The Cancer..." and mom is far too busy making those martyr eyes and funny faces that show the world oh how much she suffers with this husband of hers. Poor her. Poor poor her.
So, there's all of that. I'm mad at dad at how he's behaving. I'm mad at mom at how she's behaving. None of this is new. Its just got some extra juicy cancer-flavor to it these days. You feel bad for one of them until you yourself are forced to sit with them and you think, "Oh god, no wonder the other one can't stand you." And then you sit with the other one and have the exact same thought. They are not nice people. They are not nice to each other. Being around it is exhausting.
But that's where we spent my birthday.
No, no, don't worry. No need to wince. This post actually has a somewhat happy ending. We decided to make the drive last Friday evening when we got word that dad's cancer has spread. It is not stage 1 as expected; its actually progressed to his brain. Not sure of the prognosis, but they are moving forward with treatments as planned, adding radiation to the brain and anticipating a need for chemo after that. That's the news we got Friday right around dinner time.
Don't worry about dad. He now feels he gets a free pass to tell everyone how he really feels about them, to eat and drink everything he wants, and has a built in excuse to avoid any and all family events and obligations that would displace him from the couch. I think I should note that this is how he has been living for some time now. But now, NOW, he feels like he has a real good reason. Sigh.It's hard for me to be sad when dad acts like this is a dream come true. If someone feels like they have no reason to live, they usually find a way not to.
But still, I'm sad. What should we do? M asks? What can we do? I ask? What would you like to do? He counters. Well, I guess I would like to spend as much time with him as I can while I still can. That makes sense, M says. We'll leave in the a.m.
So we did. And somewhere between state borders, the sun started to shine on the weekend that was predicted to be yet another monsoon. Hey now, we joked. We are being rewarded for our altruism! And we were. The sun shone freely all weekend. We had ample time at the beach and D*gfish Head Brewery - two of our happy places -which is where we escaped whenever the house got too claustrophobic. The weather was honestly so gorgeous, not even my dad refusing to sit on the porch with us (what?!? it's too hot!!), in fact, refusing to do anything with us unless it involved sitting with him watching a show he was watching on TV, or my mom coming home from the neighbor's house totally soused on Saturday night could dampen our spirits.
We had given ourselves a little pep talk on the car on the way down. That helped: We cannot change them. We will not change them. All you (notice how it shifts down to singular here. There is no love lost between M and my parents) can do is love them and be there for them and let them know you care.
So that's what I did. I tried to suspend judgment (but dammit. Dad downing 3 cans of soda one night made some of that seep out.) What??? Not like I'll live any longer if I don't drink it.
My dad is like Shit My Dad Says. But not funny.
My mom is like Raymond's mom from Everybody Loves Raymond. But not funny.
Most of the time we are around one or both of them, M and I usually end up staring at each other, mouthing "did he/she/they just say/do that?" gasping incredulously wondering at the insanity of it all.
And then we go to Dogfish where we can debrief and try to piece together different interpretations of all that we've seen and heard even though it always ends up at the same conclusion: "Your dad, he's senile and ungrateful and has no idea how good of a life he actually has....your mom, well she's crazy and she thinks she's performing on a L*fetime movie and will never not think that the world has shit on her." We shake our heads, and drink wonderful beers and eat cheap hummus and veggie burgers and try more beers and then walk to the beach where I read not only the Economist but also the New Yorker the same week they were issued (which I think has never happened before). And then fall asleep. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This is our daily Delaware routine for 3 days.
I fall asleep on the beach for my birthday. Now, I tell you, a girl cannot ask for much more than that.
But I left last weekend with that gift that always sneaks into our pockets after a few hours with the crazies, I mean parents. And that is the gift of thankfulness. Thankful for M. Thankful for our lives. Thankful that we don't spend every waking minute cursing our existence or each other. So, SO damn thankful that that is not the house we live in or the relationship we have with each other. After a weekend with the 'rents, we inevitably leave thinking, "Our life isn't so bad. Except for that one really, really, horrific thing that happened to us and our daughters, we have a lot to be thankful for. Let's not forget it."
Tonight, we are trying not to forget it.
My sweet, M. I am so sorry that was how you had to spend IBMD, on a day when you just wanted to be thinking of Jovita and Isobel. To have to deal with all of this shit with your parents, your dad's cancer. I'm glad you have M beside you.
I'm glad you were able to focus on the gift in spite of everything else. Very sorry about your father's cancer. You are a good daughter.
First of all, I admire the restraint you both showed. Only one f bomb and one JFC? -- kudos.
Secondly, I send you birthday greetings. I wish I there was a big sponge that could absorb all the suckage you had to go through today. Ugh.
An I'm also glad you and M have each other.
I can't help but agree with Lori, only one F-bomb and JFC? That IS restraint. In the end, though, I love what you said about thankfulness. I sometimes think my father's gift to me is teaching me how not to be. Like the negative space between us helped me to be someone not anything like him, if that makes sense. And also, he teaches me about unconditional love, because if I can still love that man, an adult who repeatedly has made selfish, self-serving, spiteful choices, I am capable of great love and compassion. Sending you love, as always, thinking of your J and I. xo
I'm glad you have M and your sense of humour. I'm sorry about your dad and that it's so complicated. Sending love. xo
A little late to the party here and I'm still not even sure what to say. I hope you really, really made the most of the trip to D*gfish Head. And may I say that you (and M) are just kickass? Of course, I wish that the world could just be more cooperative for you but I'm not sure that I know anyone more up to the task of dealing with this kind of crap.
Best to you.
sort of sounds like a visit to my mom's. yikes. the year my mom was diagnosed and recovering from near-death surgery, my M agreed to visit her over his b'day too. it was not a pleasant experience, to say the least. at one point I wondered whether anyone would even wish him a happy birthday.
sorry to hear about your dad's cancer spreading, and your mom's insensitivity. glad you got away a bit, and especially that you spent some YOU time on the beach and with your m.
You know, even supportive parents just dont get it. Ours are (mostly) great, but still say things that have me seething inside. Yours sound like a special type to deal with though.
I understand the feeling grateful. After everything we've endured, we are grateful to have each other, and love spending all our time together. Lately I'm seeing so many divorces, so many couples who hate each other...I'm glad you and M have each other. It certainly makes the pain easier to bear.
Love to you
So sorry about your father's illness. What a supreme challenge, amidst all of the other challenges in your life. You are in my thoughts.
I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a blogger award. Feel free to swing by my blog to pick it up when you get the chance.
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