Updates . . .

First and foremost, I want to express my feelings about the death of Sir Sean Connery. My father was a huge fan of his performances in the James Bond films that Connery made, and I grew up watching them. Nobody ever embodied a suave, cool, sophisticated secret agent the way he did.

That said, I realize that his portrail of attitudes towards women was somewhat neanderthal, but it was consistent with the time in which those movies were made. Sir Sean Connery was a consummate professional actor. I think it is fair to say that, using the IMDB.COm database, I’ve seen every movie he ever had a leading role in, and with the exception of Zardoz, I liked them all. One of my favorites wasn’t something he lead in, but rather took a supporting role in: HIGHLANDER.

I find it rather fitting that a man who spent his entire adult life wearing costumes for movie parts departed this world on Halloween. The symmetry is mesmerizing.

However, I also feel an obligation to wish a happy birthday to our two pet cats, who (as of Halloween) have been sharing our home for 13 years. We love them, and (based on the amount of time they want to spend on our laps) they seem to love us.

Your final moments . . .

I know, I have written before about the importance of writing a living will or an advanced directive.

However, my wife and I recently visited a lawyer to take the official step of setting such ideas in stone.  And I much need to say that I feel the minor expense was very worth the time and hassel.

No baby, even those conceived by rape, has a choice in whether or not they are born.  No person of any age has any choice as to whether or not they are victims of murder. But every person alive has a choice about what conditions they will agree to  about the end of their life.

This is why I am a staunch advocate of Living Wills and Advance Directives.  These are the legally binding ways in which you have the power to tell health care professionalls – esessially those who may try to overrulle your preferred choices, exactly what you want them to do when you have lost the power to make those decisions for yourself.  You get the power to appoint ONLY ONE person, who already knows your preferences, as your  health care decision maker if you are unable to voice your own preferences.  You also get to make legally binding demands that certain types of care are not to be used, especially if they are beyond the financial reach of your immediate family to pay for.  In short, you get to decide, in a legally binding way, how far you are willing to allow a hospital to go in trying to save your life before they are required by law to pull the plug.  This is all about how much fincancial burden I’m willing to force upon my wife before offering her relief and protecting her from bankruptcy over the cost of my care.

I have taken the step of authenticating both a Living Will and an Advanced Directive, for the specific purpose of trying to make certain that my wife will NOT, under any circumstances, be bankrupted by the medical care required if I might meet a less than desired end-of-life situation.  I was very specific about several situations that might realistically happen in which I wanted NO life-saving measures to be used.  I also gave my wife, and as an alternate a very close friend, the power to make end-of-life choices regardging my health care.  They both know and respect my feelings on this matter.

Also, as a co-home-owner and husband, I agreed with my wife that we needed to go to a lawyer and transact a Last Will and Testament.  This is not because I feel that I may die at any near time, but rather because I believe it is better to be prepared in advance than to be caught off guard. It’s a relic of when I was in the Boy Scouts – more than 40 years ago.

Valentines Day . . .

Happy Valentines Day everyone.  This is the day when, each year, I pause to reflect on the amazing fact that my wife still wants to keep me around.  Why today?  Because we began dating on Valentines Day in 1999.  So, any babies born as we started our relationship are now old enough to buy liquor in any bar in the US, as far as I know.

Well, to my wife – Happy Valentines Day.  Thanks for keeping me around and putting up with all the trouble that has caused you.

Stress Relief . . .

Having given my mother several “second chances” over the years, I felt the need to call my father and extend to him the same courtesy.  Today I called him, and told him that I remembered many birthdays when he’d called me and said “Oh, by the way, your mom wishes you a happy birthday, too.” Not to mention several times he’d attempted to relay written messages from my mother, as he did on the day after Christmas last year.

So, this afternoon, I called him.  I prefaced my entire conversation with the admission that since I gave mom several chances to change, I felt that I owed him at least one.  Then I asked him if he remembered how many times I’d asked him to stop playing relay for her.  He said he couldn’t remember me ever making that request – until I reminded him of all the birthday messages he’d relayed that I specifically asked to never hear again.  Then I reminded him of all the times he’d gotten written messages from her and tried to relay them to me – including my most recent birthday when he showed up at my house and surprised me with the card I did not want.  I told him that while I was sorry that things went the way they did, it was pure self-preservation that caused me to reject his visit on Dec. 26th.

Then I said that, if he could agree to NEVER attempt to relay another message from her, I’m willing to give him the second chance that I gave her.  I didn’t want to be disconnected from him, but he had to agree to my simple limit on what we talk about.  No more messages from mom.  EVER.

He said he didn’t think it would be a problem, in a tone that sounded like he’d already talked to her and told her that he wouldn”t  be able to help any more.  So, I confirmed that, on that condition, we’re still good, and I’ll continue taking his calls and visits.

I really hope this works.

Saturday Posts . . .

This is a very special edition of my Saturday Posts series, because today I get the privilege of wishing my wife a happy birthday, On her birthday, on a Saturday Post.

Sweetheart, we’ve certainly been through a lot together, and I’m thankful every day that you still want to keep me around.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

The man from nowhere…

I’ve written before about the struggle I’ve had with trying to convince my father to stop playing relay man for messages from my mother.  For some reason that escapes me, he’s never been willing to see my side of the issue.  Without fail, every time she’s asked him to forward a message, he’s willingly accepted the assignment, and dutifully attempted a delivery.

While I was sleeping on December 25th, 2019, my father called and told my wife that he had a card from my mother he wanted to bring over.  She told me about it when I woke up.  On the 26th, he called again to say that he was ready to make the trip over.  I answered the phone, and told him to save his gas.  I knew why he wanted to come over, and still wanted nothing to do with it.

As if he thought I was a total fool, he suggested that he could still come over to visit if I just wanted to spend time with him.  That cut me like a knife through the heart, because I would have loved to have the chance to chat with him under friendly circumstances.  However, by his own actions he’d already made this a hostile encounter.  He told my wife that he had the card from my mother, and now there was no way I could trust him to come over for a visit and NOT bring that card with him.  He’s backed my mother on every attempt she’s ever made to reconnect.

So, I made a very, very difficult decision.  I told my father to save his gas, and that he’s burned the last bridge he had to me.  I told him that I’ll miss him, and that I’m sorry it came to this, but he is no longer welcome: in my home, or my life.  He couldn’t stop pushing me to reconcile with mom, and the result was he pushed himself out of my life.

We just have oppositional views on life.  My view is that if you have a right to associate with whomever you choose, you also have a right to choose who NOT to associate with.  My dad believes that, in some sick way, biology binds you and forces you into relationships that you are not allowed to ever deny.  It is a terrible outcome, but we can’t continue to function as relatives.

The Worst 3 Days . . .

Wednesday was the start of the worst 3 days of my life.

The morning started off easily enough.  All I needed to do was call our local internet service provider to find out why the taxes on our bill went up by $17 in a single month.  I made the call, and learned that they were already aware of the problem.  The Customer Service agent said that there was a meeting going on to sort out the problem, and she’d call me back with the update as soon as she had an answer.  All I needed to do on my end was stay awake until the call came in.  So, I started watching “Hell’s Kitchen” on the tubi app on my Playstation 4.  No problem, right?

Well, that was at 9:00 am local time.  I didn’t get the call back until about 1:30 pm, at which point I was already feeling pretty worn out. I was watching “Captain Marvel” just to stay awake. Shortly after I got the call from the Internet company, I decided to finish watching the movie I was already in before trying to get some sleep.

That was a bad idea.

Before that movie  ended, I got a call from my sister, Tammy, telling me that my dad was in the hospital.  He’d had a stroke.  I told her I’d be there as soon as possible, and called my wife to come get me.  Because she was on the hiring committee for a new staff member at the library she works in, she was supposed to pick up a candidate for the job so the staff could meet her for supper.  Of course, she arranged for someone else to do that, and left work early to come get me.

Just to be up front, my dad is going to be alright.  He’s suffering some speech slurring, and has a minor amount of motor control trouble, but he’s alert and communicative.  The real problem was something that happened while we were visiting in his room.

He got a call on the hospital phone from my brother Wally.  While he was on the phone with Wally, dad expressed that he wanted someone to call my mother.  I agreed to do it – IF  I could use dad’s cell phone to make the call.

It was probably the single biggest mistake of my life.  I still awake from nightmares – 21 years later – of the single worst sentence I’ve ever heard anyone say.  It was my mother telling me that she’d prefer that I was dead than following my heart to practice Scientology.  I’ve never experienced a worse betrayal, and I was 36 at the time.

So, when I called her to tell her about dad being in the hospital, she did thank me for the call.  But she couldn’t restrain herself from trying to have the last word on our relationship.  Ever since, the only way I can get any sleep is to get so drunk that I pass out.  It’s been nearly 3 days.  I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and I can’t bring myself to return to dad’s hospital room because she might be there.