Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jumping Ship

Looks like someone stole my idea...

I still can't believe this is happening, but I have to accept it:

Mary, my father's health care aide, who has been with us for the last 18 months, who basically ran this house and took care of my father's every need--has quit.

Like I said, I can't believe it.

I got the call yesterday morning when Mary told me she wasn't coming back. No two weeks' notice, no attempt at getting a replacement, she just cut and run.

I think of my fantasy of hopping aboard a passing ocean liner and getting away from my father and my life forever, but Mary beat me to it.

As I pleaded with her to stay, explaining that I have a full-time job and can't possibly take care of my father, Mary started crying. She said she couldn't deal with my father's sexual advances anymore.

Now, believe me. I know my old man is a pervert; he always has been. And with the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's or whatever the hell he's got, his behavior has gotten much worse.

Mary said that on Friday my father followed her around the house, demanded that she "pleasure" him (sorry about the details) and wanted her to kiss him.

I know this terrible behavior, but it is nothing that she hasn't experienced before. In the past, Mary always made a joke about my father's remarks, saying she was going to hit him over the head with his cane.

But now, this tough-talking Brooklyn dame, has gone all soft on me. She's become a surrender monkey and left me holding the bag. She sure made a monkey out of me.

Needless to say I freaked; ran up and down the hallway cursing, swearing to puy my father in a nursing home and be done with him. Fuck it, if Mary can bail, why can't I?

Here and There

I feel angry and betrayed. Mary didn't just walk out on my father, she walked out on me. I considered her a friend, I spoke to her every day on the phone, I asked about her new grandson (I bought the kid a present when he was born, for Christ's sake). She gave me advice and comfort. I just don't understand what made her do this.

I put so much trust into Mary; up until yesterday, I would have said that she is the last person on God's green earth to pull a stunt like this.

I always felt so comforted when Mary called me from the house and said two simple words: "I'm here." That meant I could relax, that my father was receiving the best possible care.

Mary was a great cook and an incredible shopper. She could scope out a sale on paper towels or some other important item with her eyes closed. And she took such great pride in her work.

"My father always told me if you can't do a job right," she'd say, "then don't do it at all."

Maybe that's our answer, maybe Mary felt she couldn't do the job right anymore and had to bail. I read about a British heavyweight fighter who, after of years in the ring, just lost his nerve, and stood in the corner crying while his opponent rained punches down on him.

My sister, who often butted heads with Mary, was sympathetic to her situation. She thinks Mary has other issues going on that we don't know about. That might explain the disappearing act, but it sure as hell doesn't excuse it.

Buddhists say that compassion is the root of all virture and I am doing my best to show compassion toward Mary. But I've problems of my own right now and compassion is in short supply.

My sister spoke with Mary and gave her a week's paid vacation. She encouraged Mary to get some rest and decide if she wants to come back. For this week, we have a night aide, Edith, a Jamaican lady who agreed to live in with us.

Edith it is very dependable, very efficient, but she's not Mary. But then, I see now, that neither is Mary.

So now I have to train another person. I've got to figure out what Mary did and try to emulate it. For that reason alone, I'd like her to come back, but I know it will never be the same between us.

I can never trust her again and those words, I'm here, have lost all meaning. She may be here, but what we had is gone forever.


Marsha said...

Rob, It sounds to me like you were angry when you wrote that post. At least I hope you were.

I can fully understand what you are going through. My sons father died at home from Lou Gehrig's Disease. Not even his sister was there for me and she lived 10 minutes away. I had to do it ALL on my own, with FOUR children of my own in the house. I had to quit my home daycare to take care of him 24/7. In the end, I was praying for God to take him. Not only for his suffering, but for mine as well. Selfish? Maybe, but I'm also human. So I can relate to you. But...

I was upset at the comments you made about Mary. She may be a tough lady, but she's also human. Joking maybe have been her way of letting you know it's upseting to her. I do that with Greg when I want to avoid a confrontation, but want him to know something is bothering me.

Whether Mary has experienced abusive behavior in the past from your father and chose to tolerate it, she should not be expected to, no matter how much you need her.

You say you can't trust her now...She needs to trust that you care enough about her, as your fathers caregiver, to provide her with a safe environment. Safe physically AND emotionally.

Making the decision to put your father in a nursing home is not selfish. It's necessary. It's appears from what you say that neither you or the aides can control his behavior. It's obvious that you love your father, Rob. Do the right thing for him. You have done all you can. Most children wouldn't have done as much. That makes you a special person.

Just my opinion, here in Virginia. Hope I don't offend you by saying it.

Rob K said...

Oh, Marsha, of course you didn't offend me--never in a million years!

Clearly you know what it's like to lose a loved one and my heart goes out to you for the terrible time you had. My father is 85 years old and I'm sure much older than your sons' dad.

And I think you're right about Mary--there must be something in her past that we don't know about.

When I asked Edith, our other aide, if my father misbehaved like that with her, she said yes and just shrugged it off. Edith is able to deal with my father's nonsense in a way that Mary can't.

Hopefully Mary and I will talk in the near future and get this cleared up. Even if she doesn't come back to us, I want her to know there are no hard feelings.

We'll be making a decision about my father in the near future. Thank you for your support and don't even apologize for giving your opinion. That's what I want to hear.

Anonymous said...

Hi sweets...Donna posting anon from the office :)

I have to agree with Marhsa on most points. It's time to consider not just your own well being but your fathers as well. A nursing home will provide excellent care and you will regain your sanity. Like you and Marsha I understand what it is to have to care for an ailing parent and to pray that God would take them (for many reasons).

Mary seems to have been at a point where she was just not able to deal with the situation any longer. I agree that even though your father is not well, sexual harassment from someone who is not in their right mind is no less upsetting than if it were someone at the office. Mary may or may not come around and tell you what happened with her, and she may not. I truly don't think she meant to be intentionally hurtful and I suspect that she realized what she was doing was more than inconvenient. I can't imagine how hard it was for her to make that phone call to least she didn't leave you a voicemail at a time when she knew you wouldn't be home or just not show up at all. I know, it's little comfort but at
least she did make sure she gave you the curtosey to call and make sure she spoke to you personally.

This is such a hard thing Rob. I really do feel for you. I can't imagine what I would do if I were in your shoes and indeed, I would find mysef just as angry. Our humaness sometimes get the best of us.

You are in my thoughts.

(( HUGS ))

Calamity Jen said...

I agree with Marsha and Donna, however I don't think there had to be any more to the situation than what you saw. Continual harassment takes its toll over time. I'm just sorry that both you AND Mary ended up as its victims.

Find your father a decent nursing home, Rob. He needs it and so do you.

Rob K said...

Jen, Donna, thank you so much. Your words of encouragement really mean a lot right now. Mary reached the breaking point and it was so hard to ask her to stay--stay and put up with father's foul behavior.

The truth is, as a man, I don't know what it was like for Mary to deal with this disgusting business. (Believe me, I spared you guys a lot of details). And I strongly suspect it's putting Mary in touch with a lot of bad memories in her life.

A nursing home or 24/7 at-home care from Medicaid are the two options we're looking at right now. Just as long as he gets the care he needs and we get a little breathing room. Thanks to all you guys for giving me this support.