It’s Too Cold to Leave Earth

The past couple of days have been pretty darn good. Yesterday I drove my father 3 hours to his psychiatric appointment. That morning, before we headed off, he was rambling on and on. I started typing in my notes on my phone so I wouldn’t forget this-  he said, “Wittle is baby talk. People leave off the L because they feel bad for all their superiority on Earth. Being proprietary of the earthquakes and hurricanes and such sadness.” Hmmm. Well then.

After the appointment,  we then headed back towards his home, not “our” home, but the lonely empty house he’d been existing in. I say existing, because he wasn’t living.  I’m so tired of Toby freaking Keith!

My father woke up at 2:00 this morning ready to go to town. I went back to bed. He admitted this morning at 7:00 that being ready to go to town and buy stuff at 2:00 am is a manic behavior. At least he’s recognizing it. He’s doing a wonderful job of reeling it all in. Of course, I have his keys and his checkbook, so he wouldn’t have gotten far.

He’d been meaning to get his sump pump installed for the past 8 years. We got it done today. Triumph.

One triumph for me is that I was able to obtain a copy of a cat scan he had right before this last manic episode happened. I had to cancel his pet scan since I had placed him into a psych ward. Now with the copy, I can start over with an awesome Pulmonary Doctor I know. What I haven’t mentioned in any of my writings yet, is that my father has a nodular spot on his lung. It’s creeping into my mind every second. It’s starting to creep into his as well. Every pound he keeps losing, he tells me he thinks Mr. Cancer is knocking on his door.

As if Bipolar Disorder isn’t cruel enough. Shit. Positive thoughts Chantel. Positive thoughts.

For all the times my father causes some form of discomfort to me, there’s a million other little things he does that can turn that around. I overheard him on the phone last night telling his cousin that he’s now living in the happiest place on Earth.

Today while eating dinner my father retold me a story. I dared not interrupt and tell him he’s already told me. I love this story.

People with manic episodes often dream about flying. My father told me that I am the only person he’s ever taken with him on flight. One he specifically remembers very well, is that he took me as a child around the age of three to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. He said that I tugged on the back of his shirt and said, “daddy it’s too cold here”, so he immediately flew me back down.

However the plan lies out before us, we will deal. We will be ready. In my father’s words, ” We stay on the FM Circuitry. FM stands for F’ing Magic in case you didn’t know.”

Photo Credit: My daughter, Rowan.

Harder Than a Black Walnut Tree

That’s what this is… Hard. 

I spent years and years just visiting my father. Little snippets of him here and there. I have a huge respect now for my mother. I have a huge respect now for my step-mother. Of course, she’s my ex step-mother, but in my father’s eyes there will be no other. 

That. Is. Hard. Hard because I want him to have friends. I want people that care about him to be in his life. What I don’t want is his misunderstanding of how his life is carved out for him now. He’s in my home. Living under my roof. Unfortunately he can still drive, which he should not be doing. Unfortunately he’s constantly wanting to go back three hours South. Not to go “home”, but to see his ex-wife. On paper this sounds romantic, but in reality this is a nightmare. 

My hardest struggle with my father is constantly having to explain why he can’t do this or he can’t do that. I’m taking a beating, not literally, of course. Every time I tell him to stop doing something or give a reason he can’t, I’m putting myself at risk to later be the center of his blame and shame.

Today I am going to allow my husband to tell him that he needs to stop mowing our front yard back and forth for an hour. He’s spitting rocks all over our cars, the house, the neighbors cars. They’re irritated, we are irritated and I believe we have the right to be. However, we’re dealing with someone who can’t think logically about his actions. He’s not thinking about the cars and as soon as we say something he will feel scolded rather than appreciated. 

I can’t believe in a world of impassionate people that my father hasn’t been the center of some huge public blowout. I was with him the other night when he ordered cigarettes at a drive up window. Instead of using the call button he knocked on the window. He then ordered three packs. One at a time. For real. 

That is the hardest part for me personally. How do you continuously correct a 68 year old man who sometimes acts like a toddler? During his moments of clarity, he will understand, but then embarrassment kicks in and he will feel ashamed. Then the anger builds and it all builds towards me. 

Imagine how hard it is to get so wrapped up in your frustration that you forget he’s mentally ill. It’s easy to get drawn into the chaos. Yesterday he was on fire and today he’s  back in bed at 8:00 am. One day is good. One day is bad. One day is good. One day is bad. One day is good and bad.  I kind of think this is why Xanax exists. 

It’s Been a Monday

I haven’t really felt compelled to write anything this entire week. It’s been pretty chill and then there was today. 
I took dad to his first appointment with his new doctor and dad was RAMPED the F up. I was embarrassed. The appointment lasted forever… He yelled really loud how he’s so happy he’s wasting his precious time waiting. I asked him what is there we really have going on and he said, “Well, we have to go to cvs, get cigarettes and listen to Toby Keith. Oh and get coffee. Only he said coffee like, CAAWFEEEE. 
Omg- I’m dying

After that he wanted coffee (of course) and then he saw a music store and HAD to stop for $3.00 reeds for his old clarinet. Well, I learned a lesson by not going into the store. I finally did at minute 11 and he’d already purchased a thousand dollar clarinet. He begged me to let him keep the damn thing and said he’d quit smoking. It’s on layaway. 
THEN when we got home with five bottles of his medicine from CVS he managed to somehow lose one of the F’ers. I can’t find it anywhere, but I know he had it because the label for it was ripped off the bottle and in our recycle bin. 
THEN while I was searching the house for it hoping to GAWD one of the damn dogs wasn’t overdosing and dying somewhere, Dad got in his damn Jeep and left. He was looking for his lost knife. It’s still missing.
I said I started this blog as an outlet. Well, I just LET it OUT. Still smiling. He’s walking around the house with a car deodorizer clip on his hat now because his breath smells, apparently.  

I cried a little while ago and my father looked at me and said, ” Chan, I can’t let this be too much on you. I can’t let that happen and I’m going to straighten up with all my might because if I let this get too much on you, you give up on me and I need you.”
If this all sounds funny, I guess you’re right. It is funny. It’s also really sad and Bipolar Disorder is MEAN. Cruel. Ugly and very very spontaneous and I’m not spontaneous. I’m learning though, and that folks… Is all I can do, because when I wake up tomorrow my father will greet me with “gooooooood morning Miss America” and my morning will feel like a thousand blessings answered at once because he’s happy that a new day has begun. 

Family, Not Always Perfect

I honestly believe that I was placed into the arms of my father, so I could take care of him. I do. I believe this. 
The man who I base my writing on isn’t even part of my lineage. I don’t know my biological father other than his name and what state he lives in. I love his brother, my Uncle, like a father. If my blood father is anything at all like his brother, who has also been a constant in my life, then I’ve been missing out. My Uncle makes you “want to skip”. That’s a quote from my friend Tasha, who also said that meeting Uncle Richard was life changing.
 My biological paternal grandmother and I are spitting images of each other. She’s been a part of my life through every detail. She’s told me no a million times and yes a million times. She’s made me appreciate antiques, love my green eyes and has shown me what being a lady means. Her spaghetti and cornbread is dreamy. Her homes have always smelled like eucalyptus. 
I plan on reaching out to my biological father someday. The clock is ticking though, I must do this soon. I guess I could go stand at his PO Box and wait for him to retrieve his mail. He’d recognize me. I know we met once. I was 9. I think. His father who I called Poppy had me for the weekend. He was a retired county jailer. That’s important to know because I walked into their mansion like home and found everything bashed to pieces. Even the T.V. I remember finding out that his wife had done it out of pure pissed (offness) with his police baton, so yea… That’s my memory of meeting my father. It’s not his fault though. 
I’ve had a biological father, an adoptive father and two step-fathers. Mother’s current husband was my ex step-father and now he’s back to being my step- father. Figure that out.
My Bipolar father has been married to my mother and two other women. Six marriages in my life as a ‘kid’. I’m surprised I’m not more of a complete disaster, but somehow they all managed to raise a pretty grounded person. 
I’ve had a constant set of three grandparents and others that came and went like marriages do at times. 
Between them all, all of the step-fathers, step-mothers, Aunts, Uncles and whoever is whoever… They all did what they could. They lived. They laughed. They cried. They argued and had heartaches. Through it all, each and everyone of those souls taught me lessons and some are still standing. Still doing. I’m dysfunctional in a dysfunctional world. No shame here. I’m loved. 
It takes a village. 

Jem, Scout, Dill and My Father

My father will not sleep. He will not stop drinking coffee all day long either. I’m starting to take up the habit as well. I’ve realized now that a few nights of waking up to a sleep walker in your house is exhausting. I have also realized that at 1:30 a.m. when a flashlight hits my face, that I’m surprisingly not startled or freaked out.

So that all being said, we have to stay awake during the day somehow. Since I’m now not working and staying home with my father, I find keeping house to be very soothing. I also find that locating my father when he goes on a walk, interesting. Yesterday I decided to go with him. I’m glad I did. I’ve lived on my street in a tiny village for a year now. I do not pay much attention to anything or anyone, but my father does.

Now dad’s conclusions of what people are up to are usually completely off the wall. One time he pointed out this guy driving by his house. He said, “See that guy there? I am pretty sure he works at the school because he turns right and I’m pretty sure he comes home on lunch to smoke pot.” Okay.

Yesterday my father asked me if I’ve ever paid attention to the house two doors to my South. Nope, never. I’m clueless. Now that he mentions it though, I’ve never noticed anything about it except the Landrover in the yard that never moves.

He told me that he’s not seen one person at all. Not one. Except at night when he goes out to smoke and stroll down the road, he sees lights coming from the house. Someone lives there and today he got a glimpse of him out in the back. It’s a man who stands taller than my 6’2″ father. My dad reckons he’s got mental issues. I didn’t ask, so I don’t know what that even meant. All I do know is that I was wrapped up in the thought of Boo Radley living right there. Two doors down from me I apparently have the makings of my all time favorite book. I found myself imagining Scout running out my front door with a screen door slam to find Jem and Dill to boss.

My father interrupted the hazy stillness of my daydream. “You think that Landrover is for sale? Man, I wish I didn’t know that was there.”