Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Family and how we communicate

For those of you who have been following my blog since its inception, you will recall it began with the idea of documenting the life of a woman in the last age of her life.

I haven't drifted far from the original premise because I'm still documenting my life, and I'm still in the third age of my life. However, I've made many radical changes, and that's what I've been writing about.

I haven't written much about my family, but the time has come to do so.

My mother died a few years ago, after being diagnosed with a grade four cancerous brain tumor. During her illness I was back and forth between the west coast of Canada and my home in Winnipeg. I was there when she died. She lived a long life, almost her four score years.

My father, a man who never liked me much, was impossible during her illness. He knew there were things wrong, and he consented to seeing a geriatric psychiatrist. The MRI indicated damage in the frontal lope of his brain, which explains the emotional outbursts he has always been prone to. Also, the psychiatrist suspected Huntington's Disease. The Huntington's research center at the University of British Columbia confirmed the doctor's suspicions.

My father was to go to the research center for annual check-ups. He refused. My father lost his driver's license. After a disreputable driving instructor took a ton of my dad's money my dad realized he would never get his license back. He blamed the people at the testing bureau. I won't tell you what my father called them, but my father is the most fowl mouthed person I have ever met. He drove anyway. Eventually the police impounded his car.

It's been a downward slope, but because he has lived so long with this devastating disease, most people with Huntington's don't see their fiftieth birthday, his slide into hell has been slow.

This July, when I was in Nanaimo, I contacted the community health services and requested they reassess my father. He promised he'd let them into his apartment.

Today I received a facebook message from my cousin Brenda Lea, "You should call me", it read, "everything is o-kay, but you should call me."

The communication system within my family is very disjoined, about as good as smoke signals. I pretty much knew what had happened. My Aunt Jeanette had some sort of contact with my father, Brenda Lea, who is in close contact with my aging Aunt Jeanette, found out what was going on and thought I should know about it.

I called Brenda Lea and she told me her story. My father's landlord called my Aunt Jeanette because she was the contact in an emergency, and there was an emergency. The trouble is, my Aunt Jeanette can't handle emergencies. My cousin Brenda Lea got involved when she paid Aunt Jeanette a visit. By the time Brenda Lea got involved my dad's landlord had been making desperate calls to my aunt's house for three days.

My father had a plugged toilet. He tried to fix the toilet but in the process flooded his apartment. The water leaked into the apartment below. My father wouldn't let anyone into the apartment. The landlord didn't know what to do. Brenda Lea convinced the landlord he should use his key to get in, after all my father might not be o-kay.

My father was o-kay, sort of. The toilet was inoperable, there was feces on the floor, my father had stepped in it and it was all over the carpet. As a business man the landlord was appalled, but from the human side of things he felt sorry for my dad.

The crisis center of the community services are now involved.

My cousin called my sister-in-law, my sister in-law called her son, her son called my son. My son called Brenda Lea and told her he had everything under control, because by the time the smoke signals had travelled village to village my son did have everything under control because when I left Nanaimo his name and phone number were listed with community services as the contact.

I contacted my son via facebook. We'll talk tomorrow. It's not easy for me to make international calls. I ought to download Skype. He sent me the link to the assisted living facility he's arranged my father to move into. He's also assured me he's working with assistance from the crisis center. I'm proud of my son, I'm sure he's handling everything very well. But, I wish he would keep me in the loop.

My son is a story for another day. He's had his shares of ups and downs, mostly downs, but anyone who can rid himself of crack cocaine cold turkey, without help and stay clean for over two years can do about anything.

And he has been clean because he's tested from time to time.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

I have skype and love it, you can also get some other systems that work too. Many people have magic jack. Telcel had a deal where you could make calls to North America for 11 pesos a minute, you could check into that. When I didn't have internet I used to go to casetas (there was one by the bus station and one near the square. I would use what looked like an old fashioned phone booth to call home, that cost about 3 pesos a minute.

Chez Bliss said...

Skype will make your life easier, and it's one way you can even make calls from internet cafes and the like.

I also have a grown son who doesn't let me in much, and my mom has Alzheimer's but seems to be doing well in a nursing home. Living in Mexico while my sister takes care of my mom's needs has caused me a lot of guilt, but I can't/don't want to live in Oklahoma, so what can I do?

It's nice to find another English teacher in Mexico -- I had a few friends doing it here in the Guaymas area who were very unhappy with the school. I hope your experience is more positive.