October 15, 2013 by Thomas Wictor
Mom went into the hospital in April. She stopped eating two weeks before her surgery. Dad died on February 23, 2013. Like Mom he stopped eating the second he heard the doctors tell him he had to eat. Six months ago I resigned myself to losing Mom. She duplicated Dad’s death, except that she took six times as long.
If we could do it all over again, Tim and I would conspire with the doctors and nurses to tell our parents that whatever they did, they MUST NOT EAT. They’d both be here if we’d done that, but Tim and I are laymen. What my parents really needed was to be institutionalized during their cancer treatments. Their childhoods cost them their lives. Tim and I were utterly out of our league.
This is another reason I forgave my father. Neither of my parents could accept that their own parents damaged them. I’ve accepted every single appalling ramification of my history. It was the sum of all my nightmares coming true because the inevitable end result was accepting that I’m not viable. Who wants to believe that about him- or herself? The reason it doesn’t drive me insane with grief is because reality must be faced, millions are in the same boat, and I believe that I’ll get more chances.
“You only live once”? There’s no evidence for that. In my life I’ve seen massive evidence that we get multiple chances. So await my next time around. If there is no next time, I won’t know. I don’t worry about what happens after my body gives out. It’s going to be okay.
What saddens me about my parents isn’t their deaths, because we all die. Their suffering and fear saddens me, and their absolute refusal to let us save them saddens me. Tim and I gave our cat Syd the Second the means and opportunity for him to save himself. We provided him love, safety, food, and shelter, and he worked his little tail off to become a good cat. It took him eight months to tame himself. Those eight months were ghastly. But Tim and I saw signs. When Syd bit or scratched us, he ran outside and crouched under the Sulking Tree, even in the rain. He felt terrible.
We kept him because he showed us that he wanted to improve. He displayed sorrow after he hurt us. We were therefore patient, and he proved us right. By the time he died, he was a sweet kitty with a great sense of humor.
It pains me to say that when my mother began fighting us in April, I knew she wouldn’t make it. She accused us of “criticizing” her or thinking she was too stupid to take care of herself.
“Well, then I guess I’m crazy!” she’d shout. “Send me away so I won’t be such a problem to you!”
It was dirty pool. She knew just what to say to make us shut up. I’m totally aware of where all that came from. It’s called an “imprinted response mechanism.” The problem was, she didn’t have enough time. It took me twenty years to accept that I’m not viable. Dad lived almost two years after he knew he had cancer, and Mom lived nine months after her diagnosis. Neither had enough time nor the temperament to face reality.
Mom collected stamps. While she was in the hospital, I continued my habit of saving the stamps I get that adorn the envelopes containing my postcards. What I did from April was assume that Mom would come home. Until ten days ago, we thought she just might do it. But the last time I visited her, she refused to eat. When she told me to leave and try to fix my Website, I knew I wouldn’t see her alive again. So kissed her and told her to be strong, and I came home.
My parents needed extensive psychotherapy, which they would never have admitted. They were too loyal to their own parents. When I write about my parents, you’ll notice that I never use the word “blame.” The whole issue of nature versus nurture has been warped by those with agendas. Plus, my parents had bright red buttons on them that if pressed would make Mom and Dad rocket up through the ceiling and shoot off into outer space.
Those buttons had the word “PARENTS” printed on them. Tim and I were unable to save our parents because we couldn’t tell them the truth. It would’ve taken a skilled mental-health professional years to make a dent in my parents’ armor. Mom and Dad were doomed. That saddens me. Admitting the truth is painful, but it doesn’t mean you’re “blaming,” “judging,” or whatever other stupid loaded term is in vogue.
“HANG THE PARENTS!” Dad yelled sarcastically whenever he saw anything on TV about dysfunctional families.
Mom and Dad didn’t have to hate their parents or even be angry at them. But since my parents were not able to face the real reason they refused to cooperate in their treatment, they died. They didn’t have to. If Dad had addressed his cancer two years ago, and if Mom had eaten, they’d both be alive, and they would’ve spared Tim and me the end-of-the-world wretchedness and hell of the past nine months.
My parents didn’t mean to send us to hell. But they did anyway. Tim and I have aged ten years. We’re old men now. I’m not angry because it was inevitable. Given the circumstances, everything had only one way to play out.
What it’s done for me is affirm that I’m on the right path. When Mom and Dad got sick, Tim and I sat down together and predicted all that would happen. We were exactly right, to the letter. As awful as that sounds, the saving grace is that we know we’re not raving lunatics deluding ourselves about everything.
We will live, and we will remain happy, and we will create art.
Here are Mom’s stamps, which I collected for her from April to October. Aren’t they beautiful?
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