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I need a listening ear (or reading eyes in this case).

I think that I've posted before about my dad's declining health.

He's been really sick these last couple of years.  He's faught a hard battle, but it appears that he's being defeated.

This started the weekend before the holiday.  He was hospitalized because he wasn't feeling well and the nausea vomiting that he had was more than he could handle.  He couldn't keep anything down and, I guess, was getting too dehydrated.

He was home over this past weekend and hasn't worked.  My dad's always worked sixty plus hours and seven days a week.  He never takes days off.  He's decreased his workload significantly and it's not like him.  He's even talked about not working anymore (which he's never even considered being that I have younger siblings who are still school aged).  James offered to go and see him at his house, but he wasn't up for company (which is not usually something that he says to James or me).

After speaking with him on the phone today, it makes me wonder if he'll see 1 October.  I don't know what to do.  I've been preparing myself for this for a good five years (when he started having these health problems), but I'm still not prepared.  I used to be so angry at him, but I'm also upset that I'm losing the only dad that I have (even though he's been a lousy one).

I just don't know what to feel right now.  I want to burst out crying, but I don't like sharing my feelings with my mom because I feel like she doesn't understand how I'm feeling about all of this.  My dad's declining health also isn't something that I've discussed with very many people.  The people with whom I have discussed it have their own stuff going on and I don't want to keep bothering them or pressuring them to listen to me.

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there comes a time, friend Art, when the body just wants to stop fighting. it's TIRED and drained and exhausted its reserves. your dad might be at that stage....

some people tend to "retreat" when that happens, we see it a lot in nature - they pull themselves inward into a little ball, and just sleep - letting the world pass on by for a while... sometimes forever.

i know what you feel right now : you're afraid. overloaded. confused. conflicted. worried. and a hundred more things, all rolled up in one big giant ball. it's no wonder you want to burst into tears, my friend - and honestly, you SHOULD have a good cry. crying is a kind of emotional circuit breaker for females - it lets some of the emotional overload out, helps restore a bit of calm and tranqility to the troubled waters. don't fight it - it's a coping tool, use it for the benefits it gives :)

afterward, you'll feel a little better - get a little of your control back. take some time for YOURSELF, dedicate a few hours to doing nothing but focusing on things you want to tell him before he passes - even if he rallies his fighting spirit, it'll still be useful to have that OUT and written down. and you should WRITE it down, or out - in the form of a letter to him. tell him everything you want to say, everything you're feeling or have felt. tell him what pisses you off, what makes you happy and everything in between.

then, when the time comes - give it to him, or don't :) read it to him, or don't. sometimes its enough to just walk up in a mood and want to shove it in his face... and then realize you don't HAVE to after all. people are funny creatures, friend Art... sometimes its enough to know that the target of your ire is so worried about the fuckups they've made, it somehow lets us shift our own perspective to better things.

so here's a virtual from cyberspace, and i'll keep you in my prayers !

a virtual *hug* from cyberspace... but it ate my brackets :p

I feel better that someone's listening.

He's gotten worse.  He can't walk and he can't speak all that much.  I talked to one of my younger brothers today (who lives with our dad) and he said that our dad's been feeling OK these past few days.  Our dad was asleep when I called.  He doesn't really sleep all that much, either (especially during the day), so that's a concern.

Another thing about which I'm concerned is that our dad's wife won't tell James and me when he dies.  That's something that she would do.  I communicate with my younger brother (whom I'll call Sebastian) quite frequently, so maybe I'll hear from him when the time comes.  Although it's not Sebastian's responsibility, perhaps he'll do the right thing if his mother does not.  I just don't want to find out through social media or something.

I'm just having a hard time dealing with my emotions.  I used to be so angry at my dad for the pain and the hurt that he caused me, but now I feel sorry for him.  Although it's his fault that he's dying alone because of whom he is as a person, I still feel sorry for him in that not a lot of people care about him.  My siblings and I care about him and my mom cares about him, but I don't feel that there are a lot of other people who care about him.  Like I said, I know that that's his fault, but it still upsets me.

James had lunch with our dad and his wife yesterday and said that our dad is really thin and frail and that he uses a walker now.  He ate, though, so that's good.

maybe you need to arrange a girly day (aka wine, spa, chick flicks, etc) with one or more of your gal pals, help you unload and commune with a sisterhood of sorts. only females can truly understand what another gal is going thru - menfolk are just clueless grunts (on the best of days) and you seem to need 'ta communicate with someone knowledgable and wise in the ways of the female heart :)

then again, you can always try the masculine way of dealing with uncomfortable emotional overload - go to the gym and beat the hell outta a punching bag, take a baseball bat to something large and expendible (old washing machines and dryers work very well, as do dead cars) or the unwise route of getting drunk and starting a barfight ;p hey, i said we're clueless ! but it DOES help us work out bad emotional juju, all the same

you could also immerse yourself in some volunteer work - don't know exactly why, but helping folks who're worse off than you can often "reboot" ones emotional barometer...

dunno how old "Sebastian" is, but if he's reached his teenage years have him keep an eye out for mental changes in your dad - often, as the end approaches, the soul begins to spin up to a higher energetic frequency which allows it to see and communicate with others who've already passed on. which inevitably gets misinterpreted by the living as "talking to people who aren't there". the memories stored in the brain also replay, causing further confusion to everyone concerned. tell your brother to CALL YOU if that starts to occur, as it means he's in his final hours of this lifetime (usually the body gives out and shuts down within 24-72 hours of this happening). the soul speeds up, as the body releases more and more of its essence - giving it a clearer view of who awaits it on the other side.

the REASON i mention this, friend Art - is because while he might not have a lot of people left in his life who care, there's probably MORE of them waiting for him to cross over to the next frame of existence. his parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, old friends - one of the jobs of the dead is to usher across the living when its their time to go... and you'll have a very similar experience too, one day in the hopefully far future !

i know you're probably not feeling it right now, but once your dad finally does go - i think it'll bring you some peace :) might take a few months for the life turbulence to settle, but you're a strong girl - and you've handled worse. you'll get thru this okay too !

I haven't had the time lately, but I like to walk.  There's a trail not far from where I live that goes along the river.  I'll go down there and walk four or so miles at a time.

Sebastian is only thirteen, but I did tell him for what to look out without trying to scare him.  I told him to call me if he needs anything.  I also told him that our dad's mental state might change because he's not feeling well (if he acts strangely or is talking to people who aren't there) and to let me know if that happens.

It just so happens that I called this morning and my dad had just gone back to sleep.  His wife is a nurse and said that he probably had a stroke last night (judging from his symptoms).  He has home health and they're not taking him to the hospital for anything because he's comfortable at home.  He's not hallucinating or anything, but he can't talk because his speech is messed up from his lips not being able to close.  She has to take care of him and she said that he doesn't like being dependent (as an abuser, his dependency is probably killing him).

I last saw him on my birthday (in the summer) and I've talked to him here and there in the last couple of weeks, but he's been too tired to talk.

My dad succumbed to esophogeal cancer last week.

His (now) widow let me know that he was in his final hours.  I got there about forty-eight hours before he died and was able to spend time with him.  I was surprised, but, then again, how would it make her look if James and I weren't notified when he was dying?

Watching my dad die for two days took a lot out of me.  A lot of people were there over the course of two days (which really peeved me because it seemed like it was some kind of party) and his widow was talking about the things that she was planning on doing with her life after my dad.  That absolutely enraged me.  My dad was alive and breathing and was able to hear us.  Although my dad certainly never deserved the father of the year award, he didn't deserve that either.  His widow acted as if her husband wasn't dying on the sofa, but as if he wasn't even present.

Abigail and another good friend of mine have helped me work through my grief so far.  I've been feeling a lot of things.  I was looking at the person who has caused me so much grief, pain, and misery in my life and was upset.  I was upset that he was dying.  I was upset that he never learned how to stop the cycle of violence.  I was upset that he didn't know how to have meaningful relationships (with anyone, really).  I saw photos of him from throughout his life and was looking at a small child so happy and full of life.  It saddens me that he was not able to live that way.

I am thankful, though, that many people came to pay their respects to my dad.  I was afraid that, since he was abusive and screwy, so few people would care enough about him to do so.  I was proven wrong.  I'm glad that people have fond memories of my dad and it really does warm my heart to know that he positively impacted the lives of others through his profession.

I miss my dad, but I also miss the dad that I wanted him to be.  Perhaps he'll be that dad from Heaven.  Who knows?

And you're right: I have handled worse.  I have to say that this isn't the hardest thing that I've ever done.

being on deathwatch is always exhausting, both in body and spirit. sounds like his widow is a heartless cow :( i hope your justifiable rage at her doesn't cause eventual friction between you and sebastian. how did he handle it ?

it's nice you got to see a lighter side of your father, in pictures at least - and hear how he'd done some good things in helping others. hopefully you'll be able to keep those memories of him closer, as the negative memories fall to the side now that he's gone from this world. i suspect that, after a few months, you'll start another chapter in your healing journey and let go of a lot of the feelings you might be harboring from the bad times you experienced.

i am truly sorry for your loss, and how much it hurt you, friend Art... dealing with death in the family is NEVER an easy thing, and from my own experiences it'll still surprise you months later with a sudden, sharp stabbing pain of loss - which becomes more infrequent with time. after the first year, it resolves to a kind of retrospective, melancholy sadness as you think about things the dead don't get to be a part of anymore (at least, as far as the living know) and slowly fades to a familiar ache of the heart.

take heart (and pride) that why HE couldn't stop the cycle of violence, YOU have - and continue your struggle to heal with the conviction that his darkness CANNOT consume you :) when you think of how his life MIGHT have been, and how yours SHOULD have been - use that to set yourself a goal to get back as close to that "perfect you" as you can manage, with an extra dose of asskicker on the side !

i'm glad your two friends stepped up to help you out, too... help keep your balance and weather the storm. good friends are so hard to find nowadays - i'm sure they appreciate your input as much as you appreciate theirs :)

as always, i wish you all the best going forward, my friend ! and i'll keep you in my prayers !!

Thank you for your condolences.  It means a lot.  And, yes, being on death watch is entirely exhausting (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually).

His widow cried here and there when he died (several of us were with him) and here and there at the visitations and funeral.  I can't help but to think that she has to be somewhat relieved.  She lived with my dad for fifteen years and living with my father was a nightmare.  Although he probably mellowed out some when he was sick, I can't imagine that it was a picnic for her to put up with him.  I can tell you that he wasn't nice to her when I was living there and, judging by how insecure she is, he wasn't nice to her after I left.  I do feel sorry for her.  I know what it's like to live with my dad and living with that kind of insecurity about yourself and your life is no way to live.  And I want to make peace, so I'm doing what will be a reflection on me.  Her behaviors are a reflection on her.  For example, she told me to tell my mom not to come to the funeral or that she would have my mom escorted out.  What ever gave the impression to her that my mom even wanted to show up is beyond me, but my thought is that people would see how she acted that day, versus how we acted that day.  Like I said, my mom didn't want to go and I had to convince my dad's widow of such.

My three younger siblings are doing well.  I was worried about my youngest brother (he was the closest to our dad), but he seemed to handle his emotions the best.  He cried when he wanted to cry and shared his feelings when he wanted to share his feelings.  I made sure that he knew that I'm proud of him.  When my dad was dying, he said that he was scared.  When it was all said and done, I told him that I'm scared, too.  Change is hard and change is scary, but I'm getting used to the idea of my dad being gone.  It's all so surreal, though.  It's hearing the phone ring and thinking that it's him versus looking around and knowing that he's everywhere around me.

Another thing about stopping the cycle of violence is that one of my friends reminded me that that's how my dad chose to live his life.  There's nothing that we can do about that.  He needed to have made the changes to stop the cycle of abuse.  It's still hard for me to think that he didn't and that he chose to live his life the way he lived it.

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About Stacey Lannert

Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.