What was I thinking?

Monday, September 12, 2005


I just spoke with my aunt. It seems that I'm not the only one enjoying them living so close now. Apparently my father goes to see them quite regularly -- of course, he lives only 20 minutes away, too.

Anyway, apparently last weekend, while my aunt was in Binghamton, my father went to visit her husband. They were on their way out to the front porch to have a smoke, when my father seemed to stumble over nothing at all, and he fell. Bob helped him up, and my father noted that his left arm and leg were almost completely numb, and he claimed the didn't trip and doesn't remember falling. My aunt and I agree that it sounds like he may have had some sort of mini-stroke. It concerned that stubborn old fool enough that he called the doctor's office at the VA and they told him that if it happened again, he was to come in immediately. Stroke only appear on tests as they occur, not afterward, apparently they told him. I guess I thought they could tell someone had recently had a stroke through CAT scans or MRI's or the like.

My father IS stubborn, and the more you fret over him, the more abusive he is to himself. It's almost like his way of saying "I'll do what I want, and you can't make me do different." He's 70 years old, a year younger than my aunt, but looks a full decade (at least) older. He has a hernia that portrudes through his shirt at the waist like a second arm growing out. No kidding, it bulges at least a couple of inches out, and looks to be about the size of my fist.

This stubborn man had surgery for a hernia and, the day he was discharged from the hospital, put his family in the car and drove to Florida. He does stupid things like that all the time and, as a result, can't get a doctor that knows him to give him much more than the time of day.

His wife is only 34 and from Brazil. I really like Le -- she's very personable, very caring, and very intelligent. If anything happens to him, through his own stupidity, she won't be able to get her green card and she and her daughter will be forced to go back to Brazil. But, when you mention this sort of thing to him, he gets pissy -- he doesn't hold himself responsible FOR anyone.

What's funny is that, at first, we were worried about my father when we found out about this Brazilian bride. We worried that he was being taken for a ride and being used. These days, we worry about Le and her daughter, Vanessa.

Vanessa is 10 years old, and truly a brilliant and personal young lady. Two years ago, when they arrived in this country, neither of them spoke a syllable of English. Today, Vanessa speaks English as well as any native born person, and without any detectable accent. She was at the very top of her grade last year in all areas of academics, and when presented with an award, the principal spoke very highly of Vanessa's language skills and her transition into learning in a foreign tongue. I really like this kid -- she's very articulate, very intelligent, yet still very much a 10-year old girl.

I wish my father would think about THEM once in a while. I suppose, in some ways, he has thought about them, as he no longer drinks. That's a huge plus, but he still smokes like a chimney and has a very poor diet.

My brother is an apple that didn't fall too far from that tree, either. He, too, smokes like a chimney and was recently diagnosed with diabetes and emphysema. You'd think that, with emphysema, he'd stop smoking, or at least consider it. Nope. He acknowledges that he's had "...too much sugar and too many cigs..." but doesn't seem to care enough to do anything about it. His wife of 29 years passed away two years ago July. He immediately began seeing someone and has since had his house foreclosed on and has yet to move all of his crap out of the house, even though his deadline was August 1. I can't imagine why the bank would WANT the place, as it reeks of animal urine (from all the dogs) and various human odors that I never wanted to identify for fear I'd retch myself inside out.

I should talk, though. Here I sit, overweight and passing judgment on them.


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