Friday, June 12, 2009

Family Issues aka Let's Make Things Just a Little More Complicated

For me, when I mention family, it usually evokes thoughts of the Norman Rockwell type of painting of a family around a dinner table, talking, happy, full of smiles. Unfortunately, that is not what you always get when dealing with family regardless of who's family it is. In this case, I'm speaking of Butch's family. Sometimes, I think they are there just so that when I think things are quiet they pop out of the woodwork and stir things up. For some reason they always have some inner clock that tells them when I'm having a good day, so that they can call and make things come crashing down.

This all started about two weeks ago on the evening of my birthday. Let's backtrack for a moment though and do the Readers Digest Condensed Version of why Butch's family doesn't speak to Jessica and myself. Last year when Butch was committed to a geriatric psychiatric facility when things really started going crazy with his dementia I had requested at that time he be placed in a facility. He wasn't cognizant of his surroundings and quite bluntly, he was a danger to me and Jessica. Well, in rides his brothers and sister to the rescue. They didn't agree, which really they didn't have to but in all honestly except for one brother, he didn't see the rest of them except for maybe twice a year at Christmas and perhaps another holiday. They really didn't understand how bad things had become but it didn't take a rocket scientist to see when you went to visit him either. For most of the three months that Butch spent there, at least two of those months Butch didn't even realize he was in a hospital, he thought he was at work (he had been retired 14 years at that point) or in a prison (he was never in a prison, I think he spent one night in jail for some minor infraction in his early-20's like drunk in public and he was too scared to call his parents for help)or who knows where. However, out of the four siblings living, three of them gave me a hell of a hard time which resulted in one of his brothers and his sister attacking Jessica verbally on her MySpace account and she in turn firing back, although she used some bad language that I disapproved of she did take up for herself which is better than what I did, which was nothing. One brother flew in from Hawaii to take Butch back there to which I said fine, let me pack his bags. I give up, if you can do better, go for it. Brother "R" signs him out of the hospital and the next day they get into a verbal disagreement at the airport. Three days after that I get the phone call from "R" that "he didn't understand the extent of his deficits" and was sending him back home. Of course, that left things back in my lap.

That was in mid-March of 08. Butch lasted at home for two months before things spiraled out of control yet again and he was placed in the facility that he is currently in. During the two months that he was home, his sister called him once, the brother "R" called once to see if he made it home from Hawaii, and his niece and her husband came by twice. Not once were there any offers to help with Butch, bring a meal, take him for the day, nothing. His sister did send him, and only him, an invitation to a cookout, quite markedly on the envelope it was addressed to Mr. Butch Delaney, nothing about daughter or wife. Gee, we had only been married 19 years at that point, why in the world would you invite his wife and your niece????? (yes, I'm being a smart*ss today, LOL!!)

Back to the subject at hand. Anyways, I get a call from his youngest brother two weeks ago today starting out quite nice. He lets me know that he's getting married in July to his fiance and that Jessica and I are invited to the wedding which is being held in his sisters backyard. I was polite and thanked him (I should have been suspicious at this point) but said no thank you that I didn't think that would be a good idea considering all that had happened the prior year. Then he lets the real reason loose. I want Butch to come to the wedding. (Ahhhh, so that's really why you called eh?????? Let's just beat around the bush, shall we?) I ask what time is the wedding, he responds six. I tell Brother "B" that Butch is in bed and asleep at 7:30PM and that I really don't think it's a good idea but that I will consider it. I tell him I will call him the next week sometimes.

Well, Jessica and I go to the facility that next day and at first Butch seemed about the same. We decide to go out for pizza and all is quiet at first. Unfortunately it didn't stay that way as Butch started having some bathroom issues. Anyways, long story short, by the time we got Butch back to the facility there had been several accidents and a shower was necessary. Two hours out is all it took and we stayed right there in town, thank goodness. Sometimes we venture for a little drive to the next town, but no more. Bottom line, he just doesn't have the necessary bowel and bladder control and no, Depends does not always do the trick. I know he was embarrassed and my heart ached for him.

The following Tuesday we had a meeting with the facility staff as Butch had reached the one year mark and the meeting was just a routine, "here is how he is doing" type of thing. I spoke to some of the staff that is most aware of his case and all agreed that it would not be good for Butch to travel to Virginia and especially that late in the day to go to this wedding. In fact, the staff doctor is writing a letter stating the same.

Now, here is the kicker. Brother "B" called again last Friday asking if I was going to bring Butch to the wedding. I explain no and the reasons why ie: too late in the day, bathroom control, problems walking, etc, etc. He seems to "get" it and I tell "B" that maybe he and the new wife can go see Butch, that I'm sure Butch would enjoy the visit. I then state to "B" that perhaps he can call and speak to Butch but that I would appreciate not mentioning the wedding as I did not want Butch to get agitated over not being able to attend. He hesitates then and says to me "Well, Sister "K" called Butch this morning and told him about the wedding". I could feel my blood pressure skyrocket but I didn't say much. Why did they have to do that? I feel like they are trying to manipulate me into making me bring him by making me look like the bad guy. Let's tell Butch so we can force her hand. I quickly got off the phone, because I'm trying to be the better person at this point.

On Monday, I find out that "K" and "B" go to see Butch this weekend and of course they talk more about the wedding to Butch. Now, "K" had been to see Butch one other time this year and "B" none. If they cared so damned much, why aren't they down there like Jessica and myself? Even once a month would be nice. We go every other weekend and call twice a week. They just don't "get" it. Butch has been violent to us. They did not live that. They did not live with him throwing lit cigarettes at Jessica's face, choking me to the point that I had bruises on my neck, threatening violence, throwing two liter soda bottles at your head, having the police come to your home and tell you that there was nothing that they could do because he was not mentally competent for his actions. YET THEY WANT ME TO TAKE HIM OUT TO THIS DAMNED WEDDING???????????

If Jessica, his only child, got married to Lewis tomorrow, we would plan something at the facility so that Butch could be there. It was nice of his brother to invite him but I get so tired of his family not getting his disease. It was just like at Christmas his sister giving him a DVD player. Butch can't operate that. It just confuses him. Why can't they understand??? I know I haven't written out all of the background and every detail but I am just so frustrated. I am frustrated that they will never get it when it comes to Butch, frustrated that they don't include Jessica or reach out to her, she is their niece and blood. I understand them hating me. I am nothing to them, but Jessica is their kin. I am frustrated that I let myself get so upset when something like this happens.

Tomorrow, Jessica and I go for another visit. This is our life and our routine. That is okay. I am always drained both physically and mentally when we end our day there. I dread tomorrow because I know that he is unhappy that I will not bring him home and that he cannot go to this wedding but I just can't do it. As the staff said last week. He is getting the appropriate level of care for his disease. I CANNOT DO IT. I cared for him for a long, long time and probably too long when you come right down to it. I don't know why I have such gnawing, gut wrenching guilt when it comes to this. I do though. I know I am not wrong, I know I am doing the right thing. I just must continue that mantra.


  1. You've done well you good and faithful servant! Now go on and live life you've done enough. You have a stressful enough life without having to worry what might await you when you get home. Butch is being well cared for sorry his family is clueless!

  2. Janice,

    No, swe can't all be "The Waltons" or the Nelsons, and no, our lives are not Rockwell paintings.

    Sometimes our lives are more like Edvard Munch's "The Scream", aren't they?

    I agree with Susan: You and Jessica are better able to judge how he may behave, and that's that.