It seems I lied. I said I was going to be grumpy this week. So far, that’s not so. I’m not grumpy; I’m just sad. And bleah. I love that word, bleah. I don’t know whether or not Charles Schulz invented it for Peanuts, but it’s a perfect descriptor. An alternate version of blah and blech (the latter is also a favorite of mine).
We went to visit my stepdad this weekend, and it always takes me a couple of days to get over that. It’s just so damn sad. Every time we see him, he seems a bit more feeble, a little more out of it, thinner. His legs are like sticks; he walks with a cane, but he really needs a walker. He has no appetite and pretty much forces himself to eat. He doesn’t join in any of the activities at the facility; mostly stays in his room and watches TV, doesn’t even listen to the music he’s always loved anymore. He confuses his words; he introduced me to one of the nurses as his “stepsister.” He talks about my mother, which, of course, dredges up my own painful memories and feelings of inadequacy.
John is wonderful; he keeps the conversation going, he engages my stepdad, he is upbeat. I have to struggle to keep up, to keep a pleasant look frozen on my face, to resist the urge to leave as soon as humanly possible. But there are few things in life that are more depressing than assisted-living facilities.
Steve always jokes about how he still wants to be spanking me when we’re 80. Not gonna happen. I don’t want to live that long. Not after what I saw with my parents. Not after witnessing the indignities and miseries of old age.
Yesterday at brunch, I wept to John. My stepdad had said something about how talented I had been musically as a child, how I could have been an amazing piano player, but I “gave it all up.” Yup. Another way I failed. Just like I never had a decent home (all my apartments have been “dumps”), I didn’t have a proper “career,” I didn’t get married and have kids, I didn’t see the world, I didn’t entertain, I didn’t have interesting hobbies… My mother’s voice reverberated in my head, her endless litany of disappointments in me. I try so hard to exorcise these demons, and then all it takes is one damn visit and they swarm back in.
And this is why I rarely go visit my stepdad. I can’t help it. I love him, he’s always been a good man and he doesn’t deserve to end his life this way, but being around him pitches me back into the abyss.
So here I am, Monday morning. I’m dressed. I have had my breakfast and coffee. The gym awaits. I finished one hairy project and have another one coming. Still, all I want to do is hide, go back into bed and stay there — take a pill and sleep for the rest of the week until I can see John again and get out of myself.
But I don’t do that anymore. That’s not an option. I force my body to go through the motions until my heart follows.
Dare I hope for some fun this week? Probably not. All I can do is the best I can, one minute at a time.
This too shall pass.