Rude Awakening

Sometimes, music in the waking world seeps into your dream… maybe as the band that’s playing at some grand ball that you’re attending. Maybe as an instrument that you’ve somehow become adept at playing in your dream… or just as your alarm, waking you from your actual dream. Arguments, however, crash into your dream and you wake up completely aware, not groggy at all and you spring to action to find out what’s happening.

My morning started the latter way. Raised voices and fevered pitches made me wonder what was happening in my living room. Sleep was done and I ran in there to make sure that no one was harmed. Physically no one was. Mentally and emotionally it was the bloodiest shootout this household has seen in 30 some odd years. I immediately took my position… somewhere between my brother and my father to keep them from killing each other. Usually, in days of yore, it would have been my mother to take that position, but in her debilitated state, she was an audience to this theater of anger, yelling from her chair at the screen but affecting nothing. So much anger in that little room. So what happened?

Today, my dad was supposed to begin the first in a throng of Chemotherapy treatments for his prostate cancer. Understanding how difficult it would be for him to get around after the initial session, and after having been told entirely too late for me to do anything about it, my brother agreed to take the day from work to assist my dad. In a sense, I felt it was fair. I live with them and have to help on a day to day; I appreciate when my brother can step in and assist. But my dad is scared. And rightfully so. He’s seen what chemo did for others… his family members, his friends. Now he’s faced with treating his cancer (again… a whole 6 years after having gone into remission). The problem with my fatherĀ is that instead of admitting his fear… he takes it out on everyone. He becomes difficult. He yells. He broods. His just of completely bad humor and makes sure that EVERYONE gets a taste. No one is exempt from his negativity… but God forbid you dish any of it back. It’s sacrilege.

Quick deeper history. My dad and my brother do NOT get along. My brother has 35 years of pent up aggression towards this man he calls father. And he has every right. Something happened when I was born, and my brother took an immediate second place. He became the bald headed step child and was treated as such as often as possible. No matter what happened in the house, Domi was the recipient of the anger my father felt. Whether it was by yelling at him, beating him (which was his catharsis of choice), ignoring him, discouraging him… my dad spent my brother’s life time crushing who he could have been. And now my brother has been crippled by it by not believing in himself at all. Or enough to become anything substantial. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I got the other side of it all where he was loving caring and supportive to me. He was just as rude. Just as stupid. And it made my mom, my brother and I this little cohesive unit in the house. With mom occasionally defecting under the auspice that “that’s your father, kids.” “Yeah, well, you chose him, mom, not us.” So for this many years, my brother has pined for the relationship with a father he could have had. One where dad teaches you how to play football or how to fix the car; going on fishing trips together. We used to watch The Cosby Show and sometimes just be so silent afterward, wishing we had a fraction of the love and understanding that family had. We knew it was unrealistic. But somehow Heathcliff and Claire managed to discipline AND love. Somehow, mom did that too. But dad… that’s a big hell no.

Fast forward to today. So he’s scared, being difficult, AND my brother is the only one available to take him to the Dr. today. Does anyone else see a formula for disaster here besides me?

Domi woke up this morning at 5 to make it here for 7. Took the day off of work (after missing work yesterday due to a mix up in the dates thanks to mom and dad). Headed over here against his will really, if not for mom’s request for this. Showed up promptly at 7, from what I could tell by the time it was when I sprinted out of bed to keep them from killing each other. Dad was getting a new lightbulb for a lamp in the dinette. Domi, aware he was walking on eggshells, said, “Excuse me, dad,” as in he’d just arrived and needed to get by to say hi to mom. Dad fired off a volley of stupidity in his face to the tune of, “I’m doing something here, why can’t you wait.” Raised voices don’t go well with my brother. Because he retaliates with twice the venom. Details are sketchy about what happened at that point… but somehow, mom had gotten up from her bed to make it to the dinette to “mediate”. But that wasn’t working. By the time I got there, the argument wasn’t about a light bulb and ways to pass, but about dad’s lack of reason and Domi’s lack of respect. I asked for both stories… half way through his story, dad waved his broken, casted hand and said, “Let him go. I don’t want him.” In dad’s broken english, I understood this to be, “I don’t want him to go with me today; forget it.” “You don’t want me??? I DON’T WANT YOU!!! I HAVE NEVER WANTED YOU!!! FOR 35 YEARS I’VE REGRETTED HAVING YOU FOR A FATHER. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WANT ME, BECAUSE YOU NEVER DID AND NOW I DON’T NEED YOU… YOU NEED ME!” hurled from my brother’s mouth. And stood there feeling happy. Happy because Domi was finally able to tell my father what was on his mind for 30 plus years. The anger and yelling didn’t stop there. Domi got everything pretty much off his chest, but it fell on deaf ears. After a while, Dad stopped listening, like he always does and resolved to himself that he wasn’t going to need Domi to help him get around today. Me and mom are yelling at him trying to get him to understand that he doesn’t really have a choice. There is no reasoning with dad.

I take Domi into my room where he vents out the rest of his anger, and I let him. I can tell, if Dad was willing to be reasonable, we could have convinced Domi to go with him. My mom and myself have a hold over Domi that he can’t really squirm out of. He loves us. We love him. Unconditionally. And that’s it. Wish it could be so simple for him and Dad. I go out there and try to reason with Dad. Mistake number one. (read up to the part about dad’s LACK of reasoning) and I can’t converse with people who don’t have a shred of common sense or regard for human feeling. Now it turns into an argument between he and I. I’m yelling at him expressing what an ASS he’s been to all of us SIMPLY BECAUSE WE’RE TRYING TO HELP. And it’s been this way ALL of our lives. No one else’s feelings are regarded except for his own and he wonders why he’s such an outsider now. “How could you yell at him for saying “excuse me”??? How absurd is that, dad? You yelled at him for being polite?” I was interested in hearing his answer. “I had to yell at him. He’s impatient and rude.” I stood there aghast. Nope… there wasn’t going to be a resolution today. Dad was in rare form. He was in the all for me and me for none mode. And I had no patience for it. “You’ve only ever cared about yourself, dad. We’re all here bending over backward to help take care of you… and you can’t seem to give a fuck. It’s all about you and always has been as far as you’re concerned. But we have feelings. It doesn’t matter to you does it? That you hurt us REGULARLY?” Silence. I walked back into my room and escorted my brother to the door so he could leave without killing my father. I walked into my room to get my towel and prepare for the day ahead of me at work and i shut the bathroom door.

And now here I am, getting ready for work, going over everything in my mind and wondering where the want to please my mother and keep the family intact snapped. Furthermore… when did I stop caring?

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