Saturday, September 03, 2005

Warning: Contains Rage

It takes a lot to get me truly angry, but the one guarantee is injustice, as I see it. And right now I am seething, the kind of anger that makes me want to kick something or howl in fury. And I'm not even going to be fair or nice at this moment, I'm just going to tell it like it is:

Last night, my father, playing the role of 'good son' organized a birthday event in honor of me, and my 90 year-old grandmother whose birthdays are two days apart. If you've been following my blog, you know that she (known as "Oma") has been suffering from a kind of vascular dementia for the past couple years, finally culminating in us moving them out here to CA where they wouldn't be alone. That in and of itself is a story, one in which my Opa, at his wits end, begged and I do mean begged me to do something. What I did was convince my father that the time to move them was THAT INSTANT as they were threatening suicide pacts and other drama. Both of them improved greatly initially, considering neither of them was eating or sleeping properly back in New York. But eventually over time, life became as dissatisfying as ever, and his family appeared as ungrateful and uncaring as before with our time (a load of bullshit, I'm sorry!). My father has done so much for them it isn't even funny, and they are not easy people, let me tell you . My Opa is very controlling, and very afraid, but I have always maintained a relationship with them, made efforts to communicate and done all that I am capable of doing for them. If that wasn't bad enough, one of th ways her memory is impaired is that she no longer remembers certain members of her family, like my father and I. Ouch.

Anyway, it's a fairly regular routine after a get-together for my Opa to call up and say how dissatisfied he was with the event we organized for one reason or another, sometimes pertaining to how we didn't do enough deep meaningful conversing, or the presence of some friend of my father's he doesn't like...but it gets to be such a broken record, and his negativity so profound, I have found myself learning to treat him like he has a mental illness, like he can't help himself.

So back to last night. To compensate for her feelings of confusion as the dementia makes life more complicated for her (she's still remarkably lucid all considered), Oma makes a lot of jokes and acts very silly. And because none of us know how to deal with this any better than anyone else, as none of us are medical professionals, we go along with her jokes, and sometimes we laugh heartily because she can be quite funny. It's our defense mechanism too. We do what we must. And yes, it seemed she was a bit more goofy than usual last night, but I'm not going to respond to her jokes with a dour face and refuse to laugh. Sorry. No way.

Well, today my Opa calls and asks to speak to my husband, E. --Let me interject that E. sat beside my Oma, helped her open all her gifts, read her cards to her, and was probably the kindest, most loving person in the room to her all evening. Because he has a psychologist's approach, he knows how to treat people in these situations--Well, Opa proceeds to lambaste E. and the rest of us for how we were contributing to degrading her by laughing with her, that we made things worse and her feel bad, and that we should all somehow know that she was over-compensating. We should have been serious, he said, like my visiting uncle ( whose card to my Oma contained no less than three jokes about her age).

Well...after E. kindly navigated my Opa's shaming, hostile, controlling diatribe, a deep, powerful rage filled me. Nothing will satisfy this man. Everything we do is wrong. There is no good enough, we are all failures, now even my husband, the sweetest, most kind, generous of his time and spirit person...I have had it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wrote a vitriolic email but didn't send it. I am, however, going to write a new letter, and print it on the fucking printer they bought for me and send it to him. I know he's suffering. I know he's afraid. But he is alienating the very people who can help him, and I have had enough. I have just had enough.



At 7:21 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Oh Jordan, I'm so sorry you and Erik are going through this much hurt. You truly don't deserve it.

So glad you guys have each other, though.

*virtual hug*

At 11:18 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

I think I took it hardest. E. has a good attitude and knows where it's coming from (fear, helplessness), but to me it crossed the line. I wrote and rewrote a letter that I feel is very clear, and not inflammatory and explains my disappointment that he would lash out at the one person who has done nothing but help! I told him they need to go see a specialist so they can at least get a handle on this situation and stop acting so helpless. I'm tired of acting as though, just because he's 90 and his wife is ailing, that we must not allow our feelings to show. Ugh.

Thanks for your support.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

oh opa and oma, why oh why oh why do we turn into shits? Some of us were always shits, of course. And some of us age into shits. :(

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Well, I sent a letter (after three revisions) that expressed my hurt in as benign a way as possible...and then I asked him to please do me a favor and go see a specialist about her health so that he can stop being so afraid.


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