Thursday, April 19, 2007
I had some nice talks with my sister today. It jarred me a minute when she pointed out that it will have been 10 years this year since the plane crash that took our other sister's life occurred in Panama. I don't know how I did not realize that it had been that long. Been through a lot of ups and downs since then.
Also had long talks with my sister about the frustration she experiences being the one who bears the burden of watching out for my parents. My mother looked particularly frail this trip and her memory seems to be considerably diminished. I was jarred when the first night in , after I arrived late from the fruitless search for my bag, she asked me how my ex wife was doing. She said it with all seriousness. I was shocked and frustrated, but on closer cross examination she really did not remember that I had gotten divorced over 7 years ago.
My sister has a hard life these days. She works in a job she hates, but it allows her to be close to my parents. My mother is increasingly cranky and its hard for her to deal with. I was here only 4 days and it was hard for me to deal with. I can't understand how she deals with this day in and day out.
Which of course led to the understandable guilt. I've enjoyed my life over the same time that she has been surviving hers. Travelled extensively, enjoyed wine, women and song, and seen a lot of the world. That has come at the cost of not spending a lot of time here with my parents. There is a part of me that feels like I should be here, doing my bit, sharing the burden-even though North Carolina has no attraction to me and is not any where on the top 25 places I would choose to live (Sorry Tar Heel fans). Now I'm walking out the door knowing it will be at least 3-4 months before it will even be possible to see them. And if I do come back it will be at cost to something else.
Feeling guilty that my life has been so good these last few years. And that I have found a place I enjoy living-with a lifestyle that suits me-even if it does not make me the model American pillar of chastely existence. Should I have bitten the bullet, last year and come here to live even if only for a few years? Helped my sister do what needs to be done, give my mother some happiness and in seeing me more than just once or twice a year? Have I not been just a trifle selfish?
All that is set against the opposite backdrop of having life cut short prematurely as it did to my other sister. Aren't you supposed to grab life's opportunities? But what about the debt of gratitude I owe my parents? They helped me out, financially and other wise when my life was falling apart and I was being used as an emotional punching bag by a hate filled woman-who thought she had the right to run my life. I am grateful more than words can describe to my parents and I think they know it, but would not a more concrete expression of that be helpful?
No answers to these questions and at least for the next year anyway, I've made my choices. But dealing with Mom is tough and it would be worse if something were to happen to my father. Which is something we both did some walk through drills about-morbid as it may seem. Better to have a pre-mishap plan than to try to make it up on the fly, we both agreed. Its up to us after all-my oldest sister will be useless in this. Both of us know that with 100% certitude.
It is also interesting how both my sister and I have changed in our attitudes toward the world. Mostly we have become more alike-especially in our attitudes and regrets towards the opposite gender and relationships. We both the decided that we are more alike than we realize-neither of us is the "marrying kind". We just waited too late to realize that-much to the chagrin of both of our current S.O.'s..................We both agree that the idea of one person as the be all end all of our existence is just not true. And we both lament the missed opportunities and lost freedoms of the previous years. I would never have thought about that as something we would be of like minds about.
I told my sister that if she needed to take a break I could arrange it to spell her, which is not entirely true because there are times this year when my schedule just will not allow it. I felt it was important to make the offer and to let her know I would be there.
I love my parents dearly as do we all in our family. They been asked to help all of us more than any normal human being should. It is heartbreaking to see their once vibrant minds reduced to daily pedantic mumblings and grasping at what remaining memories are left. And spending most days inside a house that is increasingly impracticable for them. It hurts and I ask my self, will it be that way for me some day. Except my bridges are so badly burned there will probably be no visits from my kids in the home. Just nurses who will push me around and cast me away............No wonder I need to work out more.
Of course that assumes one gets to that far down the road and as this week has proven there are no guarantees of that. Life is so damned unfair!
So its a cold, cold world out there and tomorrow, both my sister and I will be going back out into it. I love you Mom and Dad. Thank you for the opportunity to go out there.