Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Does This Help You Understand?

I wrote the other day about my inability to grieve.  I want to grieve.  I just cannot.  All too often I find myself unable to give me the levity to allow me to feel and show my emotion, because all too often, I am dealing with other issues at the same time, which do not allow me to let my guard down, be weak,  show my emotions, grieve.

I was reminded of this, when this morning my memory was jogged by two posts, one from this blog (May 18, 2014 – you can search the archive for the date), and a Facebook memory that came up today.

It was two years ago today, with my father’s health rapidly declining, that I had to appear at Family court, in spite of the possibility that my father could pass away at any moment.  Of course, the courts were not going to grant any continuance, unless it was agreed on by the other side.  It was not, and the custody hearing was held.  At its completion, I rushed back to the nursing home to be by his side.

his empty chair

This was my father’s wheelchair.  Two years ago, it had been more than two weeks that he had even been able to sit in it.

just before

The cancer at one time, had been classified as stage 1, the best chance for cure.

At this point, my father was of sound mind, when he asked me to be his health advocate.  Though I had a lot going on in my private life, my job, a school board campaign, a spouse battling an “illness”, and my own health issues, I knew that I could easily handle what my father asked me to do.

And then things went wrong, nearly everything went wrong.  My father’s cancer turned aggressive and rapidly grew to stage 4, and terminal.  Suddenly, time which was only fairly frequent with his care, became more frequent, with me often spending several nights a week with him in the hospital or nursing home.  But issues developed in my personal life that my father knew about, and in the middle of this fight, I ended up separating from my wife and filing for divorce.  Again, with all this, I was dealing with my own health issues.

My father was well aware what was happening in my house, and was still trying to offer me guidance and emotional support.  But once my father was declared terminal, I chose to no longer disclose the issues that I was facing with my divorce.  In fact, I spoke to no one about my situation, except for when the doctor, the nursing home or hospice staff needed to get in touch with me.

I dealt with bullshit rumors and innuendo, which only warranted any kind of merit, because ignorant people chose to make comments about stuff they did not know anything about, having no information.  The comments that I had to endure about my father and his final weeks, because of issues with my divorce were hurtful, and unforgivable.  These people, and I am not just talking about the obvious who were affected by the divorce, but my own family members, who had no idea the challenges that were against me, chose to attack me.

My divorce process had pressed enormous pressure on me, and decisions had to be made in my life, which were perceived as being anything but necessary.  But from a legal standpoint, I had no choice.

My father was dying.  Yet a pending court order had my back against a wall.  I had been advised by my attorney, the enormous support award that had the likelihood of being issued based on an income that I was no longer making, nor able to make.  This is called “earning capacity” and is used to prevent spouses from sandbagging their income to influence an award.  I also had someone aggressively pursuing and promising ultimate sanctions against me if I did not comply.  I was not allowed to ask for a “time out” while my father was dying.

My siblings and I got the call from hospice that my father was in the active stages of dying.  At the same time, I had plans for a job interview that was going to help me with my divorce issue, but with my father expected to soon pass, neither seemed it was going to have an impact on either.  But many days went by, and my father hung on.  Everyone was puzzled by this, as the systems of his body had clearly indicated the end was imminent.

But as the days went by, there was growing concern that I was going to have to make a decision, between honoring the orders of the family court, or being there for my father as he passed.  I had a job opportunity, out of state.  It was not a sure thing, but I had only this one opportunity.  The court would not care if I came back empty handed, the orders would stand, and my domestic situation would only get worse.

I spoke with the hospice staff about my situation, and my concerns, and my father.  Though it offered little consolation, we all came to the understanding, that my father would have wanted me to go for the job opportunity.  That job, if I were to get it, would have had major implications for my children.  My father would not have wanted me to waste that chance.

And before anyone opens their mouth about this, let me tell you something about my father.  He had over 15 years that he lost with me, because of decisions that he made in his life, following his divorce from my mother.  That man had so many regrets that he never got the chance to amend.  His granddaughters, my daughters, gave him at least some chance at his own personal redemption.  So, he understood my angst.  And I know that the decision that I made, on the morning that he passed away, was the right one.  And so I said goodbye to my father.

I got the phone call later that afternoon that he had passed away, peacefully.

I did not get the job I was hoping for, but because I was still out of state, aggressively pursuing employment, I asked that a memorial service be held for my father, on Father’s Day weekend, and I would return back home for the service, along with visiting my daughters.  It was going to be a very quick weekend, mixed with all kinds of emotions.  But never did I expect the backstabbing and innuendo that would follow.

As much as my father did not want any drama following his passing, we all blew it.  But there have been those who have chosen to take it to a different level spreading rumors and innuendo.  And that is all it is, because not one person has any of the facts because I have not discussed anything with anyone about that day, until now.

Here is the truth.  Prior to me even filing for divorce, my employer was in the process of downsizing.  Though I felt I was in fairly good standing with my union seniority, I never thought my health and my position would be an issue.  But 5 months following the filing of my divorce, it was discovered that the building that I worked in, was going to be shut down.  This meant, that movement of employees from our building to others was going to have an impact on me.  There are many who can confirm this is actually what happened.  And because of my health issues, that my employer had protected me with health restrictions since my heart surgery in 2008, there was no longer going to be enough work to keep me employed without going out on disability, which my employer was in the process of assisting me.

But the courts, and I want to be clear, I am not criticizing the court, see things only in black and white.  They did not see that this was an unintentional or preventable reduction of income, the laws allowed them to look at the salary that I once made when my issues were not as severe.  And so, in spite of submitting medical file after file confirming my disability, and of course my ex remaining silent, the court made the following ruling, that if my disability pay would not be enough, then I would have to seek additional work.  But that was impossible for two reasons.  First, how do I work (moonlight) at another job when I would be out on disability from my main employer?  Second, when I made that assertion, I was told then that I would have to just get multiple jobs.  In reality, I had not worked a regular and consistent 40 hour work week since before 2008.  And any time that I pushed my body to do so, I ended up in the emergency room, twice in serious condition (one septic), and a third time, with an undiagnosed heart episode, all within 2012.  Again, my ex knew this.  If it meant getting 4 or 5 part time jobs, this was the court’s order.  And so, I had no other choice, than to seek out employment that would accommodate my restrictions, and pay me the salary I once made that was ruled by the courts.  And time was running out for me with the court to do so.

It was not bad enough, that I had to leave my father’s side and his imminent death for one hearing, but then had to leave his bedside for an employment opportunity out of state just so that I could prevent any kind of sanctions against me.  All that I knew, was that the eventual award was going to leave me with approximately $200 per month to live on given my current disability income.  I did what I had to do, and I know my father would have understood.

But he would have been more upset not only with this criticism and judgment that I have faced from some of my own family, simply because they did not have these details, but during the weekend of his memorial, again I was criticized for my lack of “sticking around” more than just the weekend back home.  But again, here I was, trying to find employment and had interviews scheduled.  I arrived on Friday, spent the day with my daughters, and on Saturday morning/afternoon, the memorial was held.  That evening, my daughters and I took a small road trip overnight, returned on Sunday, to celebrate Father’s Day, and on the following Monday, my greatest fears were confirmed in the award that was officially handed down.  I returned to my current home that evening to continue my efforts of finding employment.  It is the opinion of some, who felt that I should have stuck around to help with the affairs.  But again, with no one knowing what I was up against, it was very easy for people to cast judgment on me.

Lost in all this, was not only not being able to mourn my father, but two little girls were also caught in this drama, and are still in the middle of it today.

I wrote the other day about myself not being able to grieve for my father, now I know why.  And the fact that I see the hurt that some have chosen to insult my father’s memory, may have something to do with it.

My dad was my best friend.  My confidante.  My dad.  And there is nothing any of you can do to take that away from me.

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