It’s well known that I become nearly catatonic when visiting my family. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I do tend to become much less active. It is an effort to do anything or visit anyone. I don’t know why this happens, but it is probably a temporary depression. Suddenly all the issues from my past, present and future gang up and hold me down.
This trip is not much different in that regards. I spend much of the day in the attic bedroom my father refinished for me when I was a teenager. It is cosy and doesn’t stink (especially after I rolled up the carpet that I suspet my mom’s cat has been using as a toilet for several years).
I’ve been putting in an average of 4 hours work a day in between cooking and taking dad on car rides. I’ve not taken him to a restaurant – he doesn’t always behave himself in public. He wanted to go to a local tavern for “burgers” yesterday for lunch, but when I told him he could not have a beer he yelled, “Well, let’s just not go then.” Fine with me.
I’ve burst into tears twice – not in front of dad, but because of him. Not because he said anything, but because I feel so bad and helpless about his condition. I’d been reluctant to go into his bedroom, afraid of the filth I might see, knowing the stench was unbearable when he opened the door. I was surprised to see the room was tidy, but the smell of his unwashed body was gag-producing. I couldn’t help the tears that came after being in his room.
The second time was last night. He’d gone to bed around 4 or so, so I spent the afternoon and evening getting more work done. Then around 8 I watched some “on demand” videos from Netflix. I went downstairs to get some water and smelled after shave. I thought perhaps the neighbor had put on too much cologne and it was wafting into my bedroom window. I heard noises coming from the second bathroom in the basement, and realized Dad was down by the washing machine. I didn’t want him to see me, thinking he might have had an accident and was trying to wash his sheets. I hid and waited for him to go upstairs. After he had gone I went into the laundry room and saw evidence that he’d taken a shower. There were several towels on the washing machine and the carpet was covered in several footprints of white powder (he always liked to sprinkle himself with shower-to-shower powder after a shower). So once again I burst into tears. He took a shower without being reminded. It was clear he was trying to please me and all I could do was hide from him and feel sorry for myself.
It is so hard to think that he actually is not being this way on purpose. It would feel better if I thought he could quit and start being normal again.