Looking back over the posts I’ve made in this blog, I’m shocked at how long it has taken me to write something. Anything. Surely, over the past couple years there have been incidents in our lives that have been worthy of note. Maybe that’s true. I’m certain it is. I’m equally certain, however, that I had not the words to express what we went through, nor how we resolved to live after each incident. The more tense my relationship with my dad has become, the fewer words I can come up with to express my sadness and disappointment over what used to be a close relationship, but has not become nothing more than custodial.
Let me try to begin, though, by describing “The Visit.” On the way to the grocery store a couple Decembers ago, before my dad’s birthday, dad worked into our conversation that his “buddy,” Mike Kimball was going to come down for a visit on his way down to visit one of his sisters who lives(d) south of where we are. Immediately, I had a sinking feeling. The only reason dad would wait until the last minute to tell me something like this is because he would have invited his friend to stay for as long as he liked. After all, Dad did have a two-bedroom, upstairs apartment. They could each have a private balcony and their own bathrooms and then share everything else, since the apartment, which was under my name, was so spacious.
I have to admit, my first reaction felt like a cold rod being shoved down my spine. I did, though, find the strength to ask when he was to arrive and how long he planned to stay. A week was the answer. Okay. I decided to have no problem with Kimball staying as long as he understood there would be no drinking or smoking, not drugs, and that Kimball was to pay his own way. Dad was not to buy meal one for this guy, because he and all his family had a long history of taking advantage of our family.
So, we go to the store. I make sure there are extra goodies for snacks, some steaks and such for special dinners, everything anyone would buy for someone staying a week whom they had had not seen in a couple years. I thought I’d done what I needed to do to make these guys’ visit a pleasant one.
Well, a couple three weeks go by, and I hear nothing. It just so happens the same day I’m checking on dad, I’m also doing the weekly books, where I find a couple very interesting withdrawals from the student card I got dad so he could have some freedom with his money. Two days in a row, I find $100 withdrawals. What would dad need with $200 bucks when all the food and (non-alcohoic) drinks he could possibly want were right there at hand?
I felt like an ice rod was shoved down my spin. Something was off. I walked over to dad’s apartment, and as I rounded the corner of his building, I saw who I thought was dad sitting in a lawn chair on the balcony just listening to country music, dog at his feet. I was a bit shocked at his appearance, because he was so thin and frail looking with a straggly white beard that hung down to the middle of his chest. Immediately, I thought he’d gone off his meds and was in a deep state of depression again, which I knew would take months to rectify. I know those of you reading this think that should have made me feel sad or compassion toward him, but I have been through so many times where dad has purposely gone off his meds and gotten himself into near catatonic states that I have always had to be the one to coax him out back into the real world. I was not up for one more time .
I entered dad’s apartment, unannounced save for the dogs who ran to greet me. As I reached the top stairs, I saw dad perched on his usual place on the couch. Television on. He had the thousand-mile-stare, not looking anywhere near the television. I stormed passed him, through the living room, through the guest room and out onto the deck to see who exactly it was who was squatting in dad’s apartment. Mike Kimball. I was beyond furious. I barely heard his explanation that he was only going to be there until his Social Security check came and he could afford to get to his sister’s place, which was god-knows-where. He brought with him an extra tee-shirt, and that was it. I told him that after the Christmas fiasco, that he was not welcome in dad’s place, that my name was on the place, and that I had not authorized for him to be there. He needed to get out. Now.
Things got ugly from there. I had to yank him out of the lawn chair he was in and push him through the apartment and the, I’m afraid to say, down the stairs. I didn’t mean to do that last part, but he slipped. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt, but he did get the point. Don’t come back. Don’t contact my dad for any reason.
After that, I set my sites on dad and just let loose. He knew from the last visit that Kimball’s intention was to live with him–for free– and not to visit. He also never intended to pay his own way, which was evident by the two $100 withdrawals in a row from dad’s account that ended up in Kimball’s wallet. I think he also know how much of his fixed income he let his “friend” waste on case after case of beer and loads of bottles of schnapps and other liquor dad can no longer drink. Paying his bills would again be left to me. I cracked open every last canister of alcohol and dumped it on his front doorstep. I couldn’t help my self. The lesson had to be learned, and I think it was. As far as I can tell from phone bills, no contact has been made between the two. I can only be thankful for that.
I know that dad is lonely, and I can’t help that fact. I’ve tried to get him involved in things I know he’s good at and would enjoy, like Habitat for Humanity or volunteering for any of the animal rescue associations, but to no avail. He doesn’t want to leave his place. I don’t know what he wants to do. I do know that “friends” (a.k.a. white trash) appear from the past, and he cannot seem to turn them away, because he did used to to a lot with them. Today, though, it seems he likes the fact that he’s remembered fondly, but