Sunday, November 16, 2008

I am not the center of the universe

My mother, upon learning that The Mister has been out of town for the past two weeks (he's home as of this morning, jet-lagged all to hell, slept all day, still snoring gently beside me at 9pm) decided that i needed to be amused. So she offered to take me out to dinner last night.

Now i am a restaurant whore, so there isn't much i won't do for a free meal, including sit at a table with my parents.

My mother also invited my brother (a tidbit of information that will become relevant in a bit,) as he was also sans spouse.

We met at a nice restaurant, one with real tablecloths and candles. Things were looking good!

My dad immediately excused himself for the men's room, where he spent at least ten minutes before returning to the table.

This repeated all evening. Of the two hours we were at the restaurant, he spent at least 45 minutes in the can. At one point, he returned to the table and before he sat back down, turned around and left again. So clearly, something was wrong.

My dad has had prostate cancer and numerous other urethral/penile problems. I am blissfully unaware of the exact grim details, but i know he has had his exit path re-routed, as he could no longer pee or be catheterized due to scar tissue.

My brother carried on as if nothing odd was going on. He remained calm and friendly, while my mother was freaking out, and i was getting more and more tense in response to her angst.

The evening eventually ended, with no one really saying anything about my poor dad's "problem." (Denial. I challenge any family to outdo us in this regard.)

I came home feeling really sad. "Ooooh," i whined to The Mister on the phone from China, "it was awful."

But, after thinking it over, and taking a cue from my brother, i am being a complete ass.

What do i want the man to do? Stay home and limit his activities because it makes me soooo sad to see him struggle? Oh poor me.

How unutterably selfish of me.

He's out and about, coping the best he can with what must be embarrassing and uncomfortable aging issues. And just because i don't like it, doesn't mean that the end result of living isn't dying. My dad's body is giving out on him, slowly. What i want to do is to celebrate the fact that he's eighty-fucking-two, and he's out at restaurants, playing tennis and traveling; not bemoaning the fact that bad shit is happening to his body.

Love accepts things, even the icky. If he can stand it, the least i can do is be there for him without letting my self-centered feeeeeeelings get in the way.


thailandchani said...

Your dad sounds like a great guy, dealing with it the best way he knows how.

You're right about love.. but that doesn't mean it's always comfortable. Avoidance is a strong impulse.


Imez said...

Jesus Christ I'm SECOND.

Maybe it's more that you wished it wasn't a secret. Just being able to talk about it would take away the tension.

I mean, what was the real reason the meal was unpleasant? Him peeing or everyone being quiet about it?

Is Mister a spy?

I bet he is a spy.

Mrs. Chili said...

Hey! Welcome home, Mister! Meno, you lucky girl - mine's not due home until the end of the week!

I have a lesson to learn from this post, I think. I like the "if he can stand it" idea...

Gordo said...

meno, you can take comfort in the fact that you recognized a problem and next time you can work at it. We all have moments like these. Trust me.

You're right: your Dad really should be celebrated for carrying on. How many people have the courage to do that?

Anonymous said...

What Gordo said, at least you figured it out. And what was the awful part, the fact that your dad was having a hard time peeing or the denial?

Maybe you don't want your dad to stay home, maybe you want him to talk about what's happening to him. Although it sounds like that is not an option.

It's so hard watching your parents age and lose their independence. I struggle with this with my mum. Part of my anger with her comes from knowing I'm losing her. I'm angry because she's getting old and I'm losing her in bits and pieces.

Anonymous said...

Props to your dad.

Talking about personal things is not impertinent. People on both sides of a problem sometimes need to be reminded of this.

Real Live Lesbian said...

I love your label!

My parents are getting older, too. Man, it's tough watching them have problems. But I'm so glad my parents are like your dad and keep on keepin' on even though they have problems.

meno said...

chani, he is a great guy. He just feels so bad to be a "bother."

imez, yes, i wish he could have just said what was wrong. So, i think it was the quiet. The Mister is totally a spy, like James Bond.

mrs. chili, it's a relief to have him here, although i did get used to having the whole bed.

gordo, it's like a whole new attitude adjustment, one that stops focusing on me.

deb, now i'm wondering why i didn't just ask what was going on. We were all busy pretending that nothing untoward was happening. Silly of us.

de, that is what i am coming to realize.

rll, i know people who's parents don't keep on, they just sit at home. And that is really not the answer. I imagine i'll be using that label again. :)

Gordo said...

Sorry, what was that? I was contemplating my greatness. ;-)

Scott from Oregon said...

It may be better than the alternative. Peeing willy nilly all the time...


He's a hero.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Oh this is heavy. My dad had a brain accident a few years back and he can't remember much stuff. I cry whenever I see him. But he appears to be in this peaceful state all the times. Yet I so want to shake him hard so he can remember what I want him to remember.

I'm awful. I know. :()

patches said...

I had a similar experience watching my mom struggle with some health related problem recently. It took a moment for me to realize, I should be proud of her for muddling through in spite of the adversity, rather than pitying her for it.

It's difficult to do, because there's always a fear in the back of my mind that (insert affliction here) could be my problem one day.

caro said...

Amen :)

flutter said...

Love really is seeing all the bullshit, knowing all the bullshit, and loving anyway.

meno said...

gordo, i can imagine that must take up lots of your time, with all there is to contemplate!

scott, or not being able to pee at all and ending up in the emergency room, which was what was happening.

mother hen, you are not awful, you are just mourning what was. How sad. :(

patches, well, i am not too worried about prostate cancer and penile problems, but i get your drift.

caro, you have aging parents too?

flutter, true that.

Greenwoman said...

Hello Meno...just delurking to remark that its always an honor to me when people rise above their own emotions in a situation and see the big picture. Its not an easy thing to do and when a person does it as an act of living transparently in front of others?

Well there's power and beauty in that. Thank you.

egan said...

And that's one to grow on...

I still feel bad for him because that's got to be very uncomfortable for him. I like these posts where you start out a bit agitated and then realize your fault and accept things as they are. It's cool.

Vanessa said...

Perhaps it's not wanting to see him feeling badly just so you feel better so much as there was obviously a problem that was not being acknowledged. Perhaps just saying "hey Dad, you ok?" would have been enough, but I understand how some families hold denial as a badge of honor. Hopefully the meal was good aside from that.

Clowncar said...

Are you sure he wasn't in the bathroom doing lines of coke?

Sorry, distancing myself from my fears with humor. I'm dealing with similar issues, watching my parents age. Sometimes they seem to grow more frail by the day. And like you I sometimes react selfishly. Not pretty.

luckyzmom said...

Amen sister! Better late than never. I can't believe that no one asked if he was ok or that you or your brother didn't ask your mother what was going on or if he was ok. From personal experience I would suggest that, in your own way, you let him know that you care and acknowledge his courage and efforts. Otherwise we, I mean he could start to feel "what's the use in trying".

Isn't it lovely sleeping on the raised spot in the middle of the bed when the spouse is away spying.

lu said...

oh, don't feel bad about feeling bad . You were there, it was awful, and you had no way to help. Helplessness is a sucky feeling.

QT said...

I'm with luckyzmom - can't it just be acknowledged in some small way? Maybe that would have helped you in the beginning, but now that you figured it all out, you don't need to.

Diane Mandy said...

The post left me with mixed emotions because it reminds me that my own parents are growing older and older. I just hope that at 82, they are getting out and about, living life to the fullest, like your dad tries to do.

Franki said...

hey, at least you got it right? lots of people don't.

Brad said...

It's hard to watch our folks get older. I go through the same emotion when I watch my Mom struggle to remember something or write out a check. This was a great reminder to get out of your own head and pay attention to what's important. Thanks!

sari said...

you know, it's because your mom freaked out. your dad was fine. your brother was fine. your mom was freaking out, which is what set you off.

i see that a lot around here. i just recognize it, that's all. i have family members who love to get in an uproar, that's how they operate best. and then everyone else agitates out too.

it's hard to step back.

sari said...

and actually I don't recognize it WHEN it's happening, it's later, now that I re-read.

luckily for me I don't much see the Uproarian Side of the family. Keeps me sane.

Sorry, I'll read before posting next time.

meno said...

greenwoman, thank you for that compliment, i appreciate it!

egan, agitated like a washing machine, that's me. Well, it really did hit me like this.

vanessa, you can be assured that next time,and there will be a next time, i will say something.

clowncar, that's exactly what i do. That's what i'll ask him too. "Hey dad! Lay off the coke!"

luckyzmom, i think it's because we all had some idea of what was going on. He's embarrassed, and we don't want to further embarrass him.

lu, it was awful, but i really feel that i can mellow the awful by accepting it, and speaking up.

qt, i have it figured all out?? Cool! :)

diane, it's really pretty great of them!

franki, finally i did. I've been getting creeped out over this for years.

brad, man, can't you just see this coming doen the pike for you too? Scary.

sari, i never figure these things out until later. Uproarian! I like that word.

Dick said...

It sounds to me as though he is doing very well and not asking or expecting any special treatment. More power to him. I hope I can do as well if I happen to live to that age.

But it also sounds like you are getting a handle on your feelings on the issue, too. Just try to enjoy having him around. At his age almost every day is a bonus one and the time will come when you won't be able to go to dinner with him anymore. Enjoy the now.

Cheesy said...

3 words...
your dad rawks!

Cheesy said...

Oh and quit kicking yourself.. life is full of lessons we must learn... like we are fallible~

tt said...

You've got to know that I've got some eye leakage going on now right?
I've been there...I'm there right now as you know...i applaud you and your gracious and big understanding heart. Dad is in the same boat. My admiration for him grows tremendously when I see how he handles what I would probably piss and moan about...and he just accepts it as another phase of his life and goes with it.
My Dad is eighty-fucking-three...
Go Dad's!!!!!!!!!!

crazymumma said...

Because I can be argumentative I would suggest tath your discomfort is actually concern....

The End of Motherhood? said...

When you're right, you're right.

Say It said...

Wow, I can't go out if I feel the slightest bit gassy. Go Dad!!! And what a good attitude you are taking.

meno said...

dick, that's my goal, is to enjoy him without feeling sad.

cheesy, he does! At least i can still learn. :)

tt, yeah, i knew you would identify with this. Courage!

crazymumma, i am concerned, but sad.

end of motherhood, i just needed to kick myself s bit to remember.

say it, the alternative is to just piss and moan, which helps no one.

liv said...

OH. MAH. GOT!!! are we talking about feeeeelings?

babe. i feel this so much. i do. and on a random note, when i pulled out my christmas china, i thought of you.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

This is so true. I will remember this story for a few incidents in my life and bitch slap my inner princess. Thanks for beautiful writing and insight - as always.