Marchman or Baker — What’s My Best Bet?

Five weeks and five days ago (that was a Thursday), one of the many homeless people Dad regularly invited to stay with him in his apartment called 911 because he couldn’t get Dad to wake up. In fact, he thought Dad was dead. And, in fact, Dad was dead at some point. Twice, as a matter of fact, sometime from the time the paramedics started working on him until he was safely ensconced in Baptist Hospital-Downtown. To hear Dad tell the story, he suffered two more heart attacks and a stroke. By all rights, Dad should have never been revived, because he’s a DNR–Do Not Resuscitate. The bright yellow form was taped to his refrigerator. I guess in all the mess that was Dad’s apartment, the form was not noticed.

Since his stay in the hospital, he’s been evicted from his apartment for not only inviting the area’s homeless to crash and party with him every night (he even gave one guy a set of keys to the apartment and mailbox), sent to respite care where he stayed for seven days before being transported to a boarding house. He stayed in the boarding house for five days before being kicked out after 10 days. He wasn’t properly supervised, and the guys he was staying with helped him get on a bus–he’s never been on a bus–so Dad could visit his girlfriend–he doesn’t have a girlfriend. We had torrential rains that day, and when the owner of the facility realized Dad was missing and found out he’d left, she called the police to help her look for him. The police found him in a ditch. The facility owner took him back, cleaned him up, called me, and told me he had to leave immediately. Since I knew of nowhere to take him, she suggested a managed care facility over in Lake City. I okayed the move, and off he went.

One week and four days later, Dad took off from the Lake City facility and started walking back to Jacksonville. With a walker. The reason? The owner would not give him money to buy alcohol. Dad’s 78, an alcoholic and diabetic. He’s in congestive heart failure and his kidneys are weak. Walking a great distance would not be beneficial for him to say the least. Lake City is about two hours away by car, and that’s if you speed.

The Lake City facility owner called the police and let them know that Dad had left the premises, that he was in poor health and needed medication for his diabetes among other ailments. A search was set up. Police found Dad bathing in a retention pond. He told them he was on his way to his home in Jacksonville–he has no home in Jacksonville–so, the police gave him a ride to the next jurisdiction. They called ahead to the next jurisdiction, and they gave him a ride. They lost him at an Interstate 10 and State Road 301 truckstop. Somehow, Dad got from there to the south side of Jacksonville, back in my neighborhood, the only neighborhood Dad’s known since I moved him here back in 1999.

Does any of this sound like something a sane man would do? Does any of this sound safe, like maybe Dad put himself into danger by bathing in a retention pond at night (we have alligators and water moccasins here)? Does it sound wise to take off with no money and no medications? Could all of this be construed as putting himself into danger? Could his reasoning be off because he is so focused on getting and staying drunk that he will hang out with potentially dangerous people, give them keys to his apartment and mailbox, and then even putting a woman he’s known for less than 24 hours on his bank account just so he could have a debit card?

My dad is an alcoholic. He has lost the power of self-control with regard to alcohol and I think his actions show that he is inflicting harm on himself.

My dad is in the first stages of alcohol-induced dementia. While he’s sharp enough to hold a conversation on current events–to a point–and he definitely remembers happenings decades ago, he can’t remember where he takes off his shoes. Sometimes, he takes them off outside and then walks away from them. He rarely wears matching shoes, because he usually cannot find a matching pair.

Dad steals things. This year alone, he’s stolen three very expensive bikes, a shopping cart, and loads of stuffed animals. He tried to steal the store of candy at the apartment complex where he was living. He steals pens, especially if they’re shiny. He hoards business cards and brochures.

Without care or treatment, Dad’s neglect in caring for himself poses a real threat to his well-being and he could come to serious bodily harm.

Given all these events of the past five weeks, I have a choice to make: I can either Baker Act my dad or Marchman Act him. Under the Baker Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. Under the Marchman Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment for substance abuse, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. I could go either way. I’m thinking of going the Baker Act way.

Thinking. But not doing.

The problem is for the police to issue an order to pick him up, he has to have an address and he needs to be at that address when they come to pick him up. Dad has no address as far as I know. He says he’s staying at “The Colonial” apartments behind the Walgreen’s off Southside and Baymeadows. There is no such place. The police will not search for him to take him to either of these hearings, but since he’s a missing person anyway with an actual BOLO out on him, there’s a chance, according to the Duval County Clerk of the Court, that when he is found, he’ll be taken in for evaluation anyway.

I need all the help I can get here. I met with an attorney about regaining guardianship and conservatorship over him and found out that it would cost more than five thousand dollars. I don’t have that kind of spare change around, and neither does Dad. I was told to call Three Rivers Legal Services to see about getting assistance through them. I believe I make too much money to be helped by them. I am stuck, stuck, stuck.

I don’t really want to know what tomorrow will bring me on the dad front. I don’t think I can take anything more right now. All I want to know is which is the better bet for my dad, Marchman or Baker Act? Once I figure that out, maybe I can convince the officers to take him in immediately and contact me after the fact. That’s all I want right now. Is that too much to ask?

The Prodigal Dad

Sunday, May 19

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’ve just finished updating this blog with the latest on Dad. He went missing from the managed care facility where he was staying in Lake City Thrusday night. He was walking back to Jacksonville. Jax to Lake City is a two hour drive, so he had a lot of walking to do.

Four hours earlier, a couple of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers stopped by to clue me in on Dad’s travels from county to county getting rides from the various officers and how they lost track of him at a truck stop at Interstate 10 and State Road 301. They’d put a BOLO out on him and started tracking down his last known places of residences. The West 33rd Street facility was particulary unhelpful according to the police. The apartment complex office was closed, so I was really the only other addressess they had associated with him.

The two officers who talked to me got the rundown on Dad’s health problems and gave me the contact information for the Lake City police were handling Dad’s case. The young officer who came out at 1:30 basically went over the same material, but I at least had the opportunity to tell him about Dad’s borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, hydrocephaly, the mass on his right parietal lobe and the scar on his right frontal lobe all of which affect his ability to make decisions. I told him, too, that he’s in congestive heart failure. I offerd to print out a ist of his medications he needs to take, but got no takers. He did take a picture of a picture I have of my dad from nearly twenty years ago that still looks quite like him. The officer had me sign a statement that all the information I gave them was true, and that would allow them to put Dad into the NCIS system and get other officers elsewhere looking for him.

Knowing there was nothing more I could do, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed. I figured I’d get up early and power-walk off some of this stress. I was awakened at seven-thirty by the lady who owns the Lake City facility. She wanted me to know the police had visited her and asked if Dad was there. She told me that Dad went off in a huff when he wanted her to give him $20 so he could go to the store. She explained that I wouldn’t be sending CashApping the money until Monday and that it would hit her account on Wednesday, so that’s the soonest she could give him his money.

Dad had a fit. Started swinging around profanities to her and decrying my existence in any way he could.  Shenay, the owner of the facility, told him that he wouldn’t have time to walk down to the store and be back in time for supper, and Dad took that at a “you can’t go” order and started throwing out profanities at her, told her he was going to leave and go back to Jax, and she made the mistake of not believing him. He took off, and he didn’t come back. (Of course, I got no phone call telling me my dad was missing, but that’s another story).

Thinking I might hear something overnight, I kept my phone on–something I don’t normally do. I unplug at eight or nine at night and don’t usually turn on my phone again until about eleven the next morning. Something told me to keep the phone on, so I did.

Sure enough, I got a call from Shenay at seven-thirty in the morning frantically explaining how the police had been there and that she’d done all she could do to give information on him. I let her know that we’re tying to get him Baker Acted and that if she comes into contact with Dad, she’s to call the police to have them come pick him up.

So, from there, I figure it’s safe enough to head out on my 6-mile walk. I walk nearly to the corner, and who should appear, but Dad. Walking up with his walker. Long light mint green tee-shirt on over oversized dark shorts. He had a pink foil bubble wrap envelope stuffed with carrots that he wanted to give me. I told him I didn’t want them, and he huffed up on me. I explained that I was going for a walk and couldn’t carry them, so he turned around and headed out of my neighborhood. I asked him where he was staying, and he told me he was staying at The Colonial behind Walgreen’s. There is no Colonial behind Walgreen’s. He even mentioned how much it cost a month to stay there, and I wondered where he could have gotten the money. Later in the day, he said he was going to go to a party in some apartments across from the old Winn-Dixie store on Old Baymeadows around four or four-thirty. I kept that in mind, and when I got back from my walk, I called the number the officer gave me to pass that info on to the officer on the case. That was around noon. It’s nearly twelve hours later, and I’ve heard nothing back from her.

Later in the day, Dad stopped by our house. Wanted money. I told him I didn’t have any, which I don’t. He seemed to take that in stride. Wanted to know when I’d be giving Shenay his weekly money, and I told him I’d do that Monday. Dad made mention he’d have to get back to Lake City to pick up his money and all the rest of his stuff that’s there. I have no doubt he will forget to close out the joint account he made with Shenay where his Social Security will be deposited in a few weeks. I certainly hope that he didin’t stop his pension from being direct deposited into the account it goes in now. At least I can keep that money safe.

Tomorrow, I guess I’ll call the police again to see where they are in finding Dad. He needs to get back on his medication, all of which is in Lake City along with his clothes and sundries. Dad figures on walking back.

In the meantime, Andy’s going to get with our old doctor’s folks to see if he can track down our doctor. He’s been seeing Dad for 20 years and should be able to give a good account as to why Dad should not be left to live on his own devices. He needs a secure facility.

I’ll contact the guardianship attorney to let her know Dad is missing and that plans to go through with the guardianship may take a turn if Dad winds up in court of his own volition. I think I’ll still visit the couple of nursing home facilities that service I hired suggested I see just in case I can get dad back here and willing to move in.

Somewhere in all that, I also have to finish proofreading a book and getting out the invoice for it. Work can’t stop just because Dad’s on a walkabout.

 

BOLO Dad

It’s never a good thing when the police knock on your door at nine-thirty at night. That’s what happened tonight. We were in the midst of folding and putting away laundry when a knock came on the door. There’s a certain kind of knock that police have. Actually, it’s more like a pound than a knock.  As soon as I heard it, I knew it was police, and that’s a sad thing. I shouldn’t be able to distinguish between a regular knock and a police knock, but I can.

Andy answered the door. I heard one of the officers ask if a Roger Faulkner was here, and I stepped out of the bedroom and peeked around the corner. Andy had just told them he didn’t live here, but he was my father. I added that he lives in Lake City now. That’s when the night got interesting.

Seems my father left the facility in Lake City last night. He was walking–with a walker–back to “his home” in Jacksonville. Of course, when Lake City police found him, he wasn’t exactly walking. No, he was bathing in a retention pond. Rather than take him back to the place where he should have been staying, the address for which I have no doubt he didn’t know, the police drove him to the county line where they had arranged for police in the next jurisdiction to take him East to the next jurisdiction. And on and on they went, radioing ahead for rides. I can only imagine the stories Dad was telling everyone as he rode from place to place. When he thinks he’s in a sociable setting, he doesn’t stop talking. Somewhere in the midst of all those transfers between police cars, though, they lost Dad.

These Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officers were on the ball enough to at least ask me if dad had any mental issues going on. I gave them the whole story. Early stages of alcohol-induced dementia, the mass growing on his right parietal lobe, the scar on his right frontal lobe, the hydrocephaly, all of which impair his judgment, and diabetes for which he needs medication. I told them about the last five weeks. The hospital stay. The doctors declaring him competent enough to make decisions for himself and discharging him. His stay in respite care. His abbreviated stay in the boarding house and the circumstances of his transfer to Lake City. I told them about his habit of hanging with homeless people and bringing them home when he lived in the apartments near me and how the practice got him evicted a few weeks ago.

One of the officers was especially empathetic as he had to gain guardianship over his own father not long ago. I told him how I was working with Elder Source here in Jacksonville and Elder Choice over in Lake City to try to get dad into a secure facility. I also told them I met with an attorney this week regarding guardianship, and they both commented on how they thought I was doing everything I needed to do to secure Dad’s safety.

At that point, they had me call Shenay, the lady who owns and runs the facility from which Dad left to see if she had reported Dad missing. She said she called the police and was told that since Dad was not declared incompetent by a judge, she could not hold him against his will, so she let him go. They also told her, according to her, that since he was “competent,” and decided to leave on his own, he could not be reported as missing.

Now, why Shenay did not call me last night to let me know that Dad had left her facility, I have no idea. She’d already been paid for this month’s room and board. Perhaps she didn’t think I needed to know anything until it came time to pay for next month? I don’t know. I do know that she’s on my dad’s bank account and that Dad has removed me as his Social Security payee and that his money will be going directly into that account. Shenay can remove all of that money, and Dad will have no recourse for getting that money back.

The JSO officers went above and beyond tonight when they took it upon themselves to contact Lake City police and report Dad as missing and put out a BOLO on him. They filled them in on Dad’s health issues. They reported Dad as missing from this end. And since Dad’s legal address is on West 33rd Street here in Jacksonville, if he does make it to the city line, that’s where they’ll have to take him. Not here, even though this is probably where he was headed.

Oh, Dad. What a mess you’ve made for yourself.

Monday, I’m going to have to call Elder Choice and Elder Care and let them know what’s going on. I’m going to have to call Aging True to let them know what’s going on and see if his nurse and any of the therapists will be willing to swear out statements regarding Dad’s mental state. I’m going to have to contact the apartment complex where he lived here in Jax to warn them that he might try to come around there as there is a lady in the office he considers his “girlfriend,” and she needs to be warned that he’d probably try to sweet talk her into letting him stay with her.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to wait to hear something from the Lake City police. I guess I should turn on my phone.

John Doe Dad

The last time my dad went missing, I found him in jail. In North Carolina. I’m in Florida. At that time, he was living on his own in the streets of some little town I can’t remember the name of at the moment. He’d long since lost his companion of eleven years, his trusted dog, Blackie, and he’d recently lost an old friend of his, Jack, whom Dad had moved in with after our relationship fell apart back in 2007.

Why did it fall apart? Simple. Dad had taken up drinking again, and I would have nothing to do with him when he drank. He’d been on the wagon for nearly a decade when a new neighbor he’d become close with started inviting dad over for dinner, during which his wife would serve wine. That’s all it took.

Within weeks, Dad went from being a pleasant old man with a lot of heath issues and a dog to a belligerent fool bent on getting a hold of his money, to which I held the purse strings, and drinking himself into oblivion.

That didn’t turn out well.

By 2010, Dad was back in Florida. It took about a year or so before he was back to just being an old man with a lot of health issues. Fast-forward to 2018, and we have a visit from his last living friend in the world, Big Jim, during which dad started drinking again.

Jim wound up cutting his visit short, and Dad was left heartbroken and determined to visit North during the summer. I didn’t know if that would be a good idea, but I acquiesed. He left for the month of July to spend two weeks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit my brother and his family and then end his vacation with two weeks in Wisconsin visiting Big Jim.

From the moment I dropped Dad off at the airport, he started drinking. He didn’t stop the entire time he was gone. He stopped taking his medication. He started acting erratically.

When he arrived home, he was still drunk from his trip. Since he had money left over from the trip, he sweet-talked nieghbors into taking him to the store to buy some type of grocery item only to walk out with alcohol and cigars. Both of which are contraindicated with his medications. Within two weeks of being home, he had a heart attack. That was the last part of August. He was critical for a couple weeks, then released into a rehab facility by September. He loved it there. I started the process of getting him on Medicaid so he could stay there, but got talked into discharging him by the end of October.

I never should have done that.

At some point after his heart attack, Dad must have had a stroke, because his behavior was just too much. He started walking the two miles down to Deerwood Village shopping center every day. He’d seek out the company of homeless people, sponge cigarettes and booze from them, and then badger me for money. He’d make up stories that he would need something from the store and would need five dollars. Rather than give him the money, I always just bought whatever it was he said he needed.

Then, he just got mean–and strange. He wanted his money, at least twenty dollars a week. I reluctantly agreed to the amount and started mailing him money every week. Every couple weeks, I would take groceries over, and would be appalled by the state of his apartment. The once new carpet was nearly ruined. He’d picked out the slats of one of his blinds and its skeleton hung in the door window like a little string ladder to nowhere. He started cutting up his throw rugs and taping them down all over his apartment. And he wouldn’t keep them in the same place, he’d pluck them up and move them around. He constantly moved around his furniture. He started dumpster-diving nearly ever day and would bring in junk and collect stuffed animals. He started stealing bikes. Expensive bikes. He jammed a shopping cart out onto his screened-in porch and piled loads of junk in and around it.

The worst part of it was that he would invite his homeless friends to stay with him. They would come at all hours of the night and bang on the door, yelling at my nearly deaf father to wake up and let them in. They’d have raucous parties on the weekends, and sometimes during the week. Neighbors started complaining. I started getting calls from the aparment complex’s office about my dad and his friends as though I could do something about it. Finally, the apartment manager let me know that Dad was going to be evicted if he didn’t stop bringing those people home with him.

Then something happened. One Thursday night or early Friday morning five weeks ago, one of the homeless people staying with Dad couldn’t wake him up. The guy called 911 and the ambulance hauled Dad off to the hospital. (Not the nearest one four miles away, but the farthest one about 20 miles away.) I found out that Dad was in the hospital from a voicemail. Someone from Baptist hospital downtown left me a message that he “thought” he had to talk to me about my dad. The next five voicemail messages I got were condolence calls as the homeless guy who called the paramedics called other homeless people who knew Dad and told everyone that he was dead.

I called the hospital immediately, and six hours later, I got a call back saying that they had two John Does. One was alive. One was dead. I was asked to come identify which was my dad, if either.

Andy and I went to the hospital, and I asked to see the live John Doe first, which turned out to be Dad. Apparently, from what a doctor told me, Dad was unresponsive when they brought him in. And even though he was a DNR (do not resusitate), they resusitated him at least twice. For three days, he was unresponsive, then on the fourth day, he started responding. By the fifth day, they removed the respirator from him. By the sixth day, they gave him some therapy. By the seventh day, he was discharged.

Now, because I never went down to visit Dad, he got his panties in a bunch and told the doctors and nurses not to talk to me even though I had given them my power of attorney, his living will, and his HIPAA release stating that I was his healthcare surrogate. I had also informed his doctor, the nurse, and the social worker that dad was in the first stages of dementia and that he couldn’t make decisions on his own. I also let it be known that when he was discharged, he needed to be discharged into a rehab facility, preferably the one I had picked out for him before this heart attack or whatever, because he was going to be evicted that Wednesday from his apartment. Regardless, the entire time he was in the hospital, even though I called several times a day every day, I got no information on his condition. No doctor called me. I only got told when he was going to be discharged.

When I got the call that he was going to be discharged, I reiterated to the social worker that he needed to go to a rehab facility, that we’d already had a 3008 form filled out by his primary care doctor to that effect. I had no intention of picking him up. We had quite a back-and-forth and finally the social worker said one of the nurses suggested Dad go to this respite care facility he knew of. They would take him for seven days and would help me find a place to put Dad, so I gave the okay to transport him there.

Naturally, the respite care facility did not help me find a place to put Dad. Instead, I had to call Blue Cross & Blue Shield to get a directory of facilities and called them all myself. I found two that were interested, but they couldn’t make up their minds in time, so the respite care facility owner suggested a managed care place up on West 33rd Street downtown Jacksonville. Not the best area in the world, but my back was up against it, so I relented and gave the okay for him to be transported there. Before he was moved, I spoke with the owner of the facility, Yashica T., and explained where dad was coming from, that I was in the process of getting him moved into a nursing home because he was in the first stages of dementia and an alcoholic who’d relapased. I also let her know that he needed to be supervised, that he would wander if he got bored.

Apparently, all my warnings fell on deaf ears, because 10 days later, some of the guys dad was living with helped him get on a bus (he’d never been on a bus before) so he could find his girlfriend (he doesn’t have a girlfriend).  Somehow, he got lost, because I got a call from Yashica letting me know what had happened, that they were searching for him and that they’d called the police to help find him. The police found him in a ditch. It had been heavily raining all day, so we think he simply fell in the ditch and couldn’t get himself back up.

That night, I was told Dad had to leave the facility. He needed supervision (which I told the owner up front), and that they couldn’t handle him. I had no place to put him, so Yashica suggested a managed care facility over in Lake City (the other side of the state from me). I okay’d the move. That was a week ago Sunday. A week ago Monday, Dad had sweet-talked the owner, Shenay F., into taking him down to the local VyStar Credit Union so he could access his money. For whatever reason, Dad okay’d Shenay to be put on his account. I found out about this a week ago Thursday when I went to the credit union to have some statements printed out. I got to the service desk, gave the member service person Dad’s member number and he looked at the account, looked at me, and said, “And you’re Shenay?”

Uh, no.

I spent the next couple of hours working with VyStar to see if there was any way I could remove Dad’s name from that account that was now joint with my power of attorney. I couldn’t. I called General Motors Pension Benefits to alert them to the possiblity of Dad’s redirecting his direct deposit into a different account. They couldn’t do anything to stop him. I didn’t even bother with Social Security. I knew I needed to have guardianship to stop his redirecting those funds.

Yesterday, I received a notice from Social Security that they would not be paying Dad’s May benefits next month. Today, I went down to Social Security to find out why. They couldn’t tell me, because I’d been removed as payee. Again.

I came home and got online to change the address on Dad’s accounts to reflect his Lake City address. Tomorrow, I’m going to pack up his mail, his bills, his pills that came to my house, and I’ll forward them to Lake City. I’m done playing this game. If Dad wants to be on his own, he can be on his own. I can’t afford to pay an attorney five grand to become Dad’s guardian again. To tell the truth, I don’t think I want to even try. I’m tired. I have my own health issues, and I’m trying to make a living.

The next time Dad does a disappearing act and gets tossed from this place where he is, I will not be around to help him out. As of now, he’s a John Doe to me. A John Doe dad.

2018 Travails

Last year, 2018, started out like any other year for me and my dad. We had a rhythm going of me taking him to doctor appointments and following those up with grocery runs and sometimes medicine runs at the local Walgreen’s.

At the beginning of the year, my dad was grossly overweight. It hurt for him to walk very far, and a friend of his who stayed with him the first month and a half of the year got Dad fixed up with a cane. My dad likes toys that bring attention to himself, so he was thrilled with the purchase.

During my dad’s friend’s stay, dad had a few doctor appointments, and his friend wound up playing a bit of nursemaid to Dad. Not the fun time he was expecting, so he left a month early to head back to Wisconsin. That broke Dad’s heart and he vowed he’d take a trip up to see his friend during the summer time to get out of the Florida heat, which he did.

I planned and saved for that trip, and I prayed that I could trust dad to not drink his way up to Wisconsin the moment he stepped foot into Jacksonvile Internation Airport and out of my sight. My trust was misplaced, because the moment he found a place to whet his whistle, he started drinking. In the little time it took to fly from Jacksonville, Florida, to Green Bay, Wisconsin, Dad got plastered. And plastered he stayed for the whole four weeks he was away.

In the meantime, I was dealing with flooding in Dad’s apartment. Apparently, shortly after Dad left for vacation, several pipes burst in the ceiling and flooded the place for so many days that water was pouring out the front door and collecting into a three-foot circular puddle.

By the time Dad returned, the apartment had been put back together. Too bad Dad wasn’t the same. He had money left over from his trip and he started sweet-talking neighbors into taking him down to the grocery so he could buy his prescriptions (which come by mail) and he’d come out of the store with a six-pack or bottles of liquor. He stayed pickeled for two-and-a-half weeks. In that time, he managed to get me taken off as his Social Security payee, which meant I had no way to pay his bills, save out of my own pocket. In the heat of all this, Dad wound up having a heart attack.

While in the hospital, Dad’s kidneys started failing, and I had to remind his doctors that Dad was a DNR–do not resusitate. After about three weeks in the hospital, he was transferred to a Life Care Center for rehab. He lost loads of weight and though he was not sure on his feet, a fall risk, he did his best to walk.

Dad loved it there. I was in the process of making his stay permanent, when I got talked out of it by my brother and boyfriend. Since Dad’s been home (October), he’s been an absolute nightmare. He wants spending money. He wanders for miles around the area with his walker at all times of the day and night. He consorts with questionable people who drink alcohol in public. He sorts through ashtray bins to see if there are any butts he can smoke. He steals things, like bicycles and shopping carts.

I can understand Dad wanting to have spending money, but with him, his spending money will be used on booze and cigarettes, two things that are contraindicated with all his medications. Not to mention he’s a nightmare when he’s drinking.

On top of all this, his paranoia has set in. He’s accused me of coming into his apartment and stealing from him. What, exactly, I don’t know. There isn’t anything over there that I could possibly want. He surrounds himself with junk. Actual junk that he’s picked up off the side of the road and out of the garbage. We had a cleaning lady come in last week and remove all the garbage, clean the carpets, and rooms. He probably just can’t find some special junk he was partial to and is blaming me for its disappearance.

I’m taking him in to see a neurologist on Tuesday to determine if he’s had a stroke, if he’s developed pseudobulbar affect and dementia. It’s not going to be a fun trip.  I’m going to have to ask the doctor to help me get him a psych eval for him. We need to build up the case that he needs to go back into long-term care and stay there. His activities are too risky. He engages with sketchy people, one of whom stole his cell phone. He has a history of this, but it’s usually when he’s drinking. I just feel as though I’m dealing with a drunk every single day, and it’s affecting my ability to create. It’s affecting my relationships. It’s affecting me. I need someone to help me get him in a facility where he will be well taken care of, safe, and where he will have lots of activities to keep him busy and happy. That’s all he really wants at the end of the day is company and things to do and see.

We’ll see what this week brings.

How About Lunch?

These past nine days have given me a new appreciation for how my dad lives out his life. I’m pet-sitting for a friend. Since I have six pets of my own and a small-ish house, I sit for the pets at my friend’s house.

My friend who has no television.

I had no idea how important television was to me until I didn’t have access to it. Before you judge, I don’t use television like other people do: sitting in front of it for hours on end to escape the day. No, I keep it on at a three or four volume level–just low enough so I can hear some voices, but not loud enough to be able to get interested in any show.

I’m a writer, so I work at home. What I do is lonely enough. Though I turn off the television when I’m really concentrating on something complex, I find that I have to have the thing on the rest of the time.

And I know why: I crave the sound of voices, even when I don’t understand what they’re saying. It’s people contact for someone who’s shut off.

That’s what my dad is: shut off. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that my dad’s at the age where all his relatives, save his children, are dead. His friends are dead, save one. He needs his television to connect with the world when the world is too busy to seek him out.

Right now, I’m his world whether I like it or not. It’s up to me to help him connect and keep his connections so he doesn’t spin out into depression. It’s tough. We’re not close. We have basically never lived together. He had little part in my life until he needed someone to care for him. Yet, here we are.

I’ll ensure dad keeps his television going. I’ll do what I can to ensure he keeps up with his one last friend. And I’ll do better at reaching out and connecting with him myself.

How about lunch?

 

A Sad End

It’s interesting to see dad’s friendships in his later years. Most of his friends are either dead or not talking to him–a result of how he lived his life, i.e. drinking too much, getting into trouble, making a nuisance of himself. His constant friend has been one of his oldest friends, Big Jim. Jim and dad talk every day, several times a day now that dad is living under my care, not drinking, not getting into trouble. Jim, himself, stopped drinking almost five years ago, so their friendship is one that I encouraged.

When Jim asked to come down to stay with dad this January through March to escape the harshest part of what a Wisconsin winter had to offer–well, part of me was hesitant, because I didn’t know if I could believe Jim when he told me he’d stopped drinking so long ago, and the other part of me thought it would be a great idea. Dad’s lonely. He has no one down here. All his family’s dead, save for my brother and me. My brother, long ago, told me dad was my responsibility as he’d already done his duty taking care of grandma, dad’s mom.  Other than a once-every-few-years visit, my brother and his family would not be a source of entertainment. I’d made it known after dad’s last round of drinking that I wouldn’t be a source of entertainment, either. I’d take care of him every other way, but he’s spent his last dime of pity with me. So, this visit by Jim, well, that sparked some life into dad. I was glad for it. Glad for him.

Big Jim arrived ahead of schedule, December 28th. Dad was giddy. He called me several times every day to tell me what they were doing: going to Wal-Mart and riding the carts around the store, going to Target and Publix and Winn-Dixie to do the same. Jim’s about 400 pounds. Dad’s short and about 250 pounds. I can only imagine what they looked like tooling down the aisleways.

They went to DXL to buy some new clothes for Jim (he’s about 400 pounds, dad’s about 250 pounds).  They went to Batteries+ to get a new phone battery for dad’s phone. They’d go out to breakfast every morning to different delis as well as iHop and Denny’s and Golden Corral. Sometimes they’d also go out for lunch or dinner, too. Jim cooked dinner. Dad says he doesn’t know how to cook, though I know he does. He makes chili and vegetable soup and he can make a roast in a Crock Pot.

They’d do laundry every few days and wash bedding every week. They’d go sight-seeing. Historic St. Augustine, The Alligator Farm, driving up and down US 1 to see the remnants of Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. They’d sit out at the pool, (yes, in February), and get sunburns.

I have to admit, I didn’t go over any more than was necessary. My other half and I went over early on because they couldn’t set up the flat screen Jim gave dad. I’d go over to put minutes on dad’s and Jim’s phones. I brought them Girl Scout cookies. I’d pick dad up for his medical appointments.

Dad’s last appointment was with an oral surgeon to have five teeth extracted. I dropped dad off at his apartment and left to get his prescriptions for pain and antibiotics, and in that short amount of time, Jim let dad know that he was going to head back north, a month early. He said his roommate was in an accident and he had no transportation.  My immediate reaction was, he’s never heard of Uber, Lyft or a plain ol’ cab? He’s a much younger man, I think he’s my age, mid-fifties, didn’t he have friends who could run errands for him?

I’ve known Big Jim my whole life. This this the first time I think he lied to me. I don’t believe his friend was in an accident. And if he was, I don’t believe he had no other resources he could tap for four weeks than Jim. I think Jim wanted to leave. I think the thought of playing nursemaid to dad for a couple of his remaining weeks here was the kicker. Knowing my dad, I know dad let Jim do all the cooking and cleaning, let Jim instigate it all. Dad’s not clean, not tidy. He doesn’t clean up after himself well. God love grandma, she didn’t either, so he comes by the bad habits honestly. Jim is very clean, nearly a germaphobe. He’s able to take care of himself–I believe he as at least two pensions, if not three, and he saved (an inherited). Dad’s lost everything he has three times and now I control what funds he has. I think Jim just saw a different dad, and he wasn’t having the fun with an old friend he thought he would.

So, I come back from getting dad’s prescriptions. Dad tells me he’s losing his roommate. He’s pale. His voice is choked. In the same breath, he tells me he’d like to go up to Wisconsin for a few months in the summer. Jim tells me his excuse. I honestly felt bad for dad. He’d had so much fun every single day for two months, and now he knew it would all come to a halt. He’d be alone every day and night. I’d see him every other week, and maybe a couple times in-between, to get groceries, and that would be it. He would have nothing to look forward to except watching television every day.

My better half and I plan to take him out, if he’ll come out, to try to lift his spirits. I don’t know that I’ll sanction dad going North. I don’t know Jim’s roommate, and now, I don’t trust Jim.