I’ve never been what you might call “nurturing.” I’m not a natural caretaker by any stretch of the imagination but I keep finding myself in situations that require me to flex these skills. It’s weird.
For instance, I was definitely not cut out for motherhood. I can’t even keep houseplants alive and folks handed me a baby and were like “okay, here you go!” Me: what? But we figured it out. I feel like I fail at it pretty much every day, but on the other hand, my benchmark for success is “did anyone die? No? Good.” So in that respect, we’re doing just fine over here!
I’m not a super-involved friend, most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and am 100% there for them if their house burns down or they lose a leg or something, but the day-to-day stuff is hard for me to remember to do. I’ve been getting better at that lately – in fact, I was getting SUPER AWESOME at it before Covid blew up the whole world and we decided to move away from all my local friends! Whoops!
So I’m really good at the Big Deal things. When Freddie had his accident, I was super-excellent at handling that. I was calm and had it totally together in public and handled a lot of phone calls and texts and other crap that is not in my wheelhouse. That was easy! But later on, when he was home and needed more TLC, well, I’m not super-good at that, you guys! He needed a little more than “but did you die?” and I struggled with that.
We got through it, though.
Now I’ve found myself in another situation where I don’t have the skills necessary but I’m doing what I can. A couple of weeks ago, my dad had at least one, probably more like three small-ish strokes. Nothing major like the first big one he had back in 1999, but at this point, even a “little bit of a stroke” is enough to fuck everything up real good.
He spent a few days in the hospital and then was supposed to go to inpatient rehab to work on speech therapy and whatnot but his shitty insurance company is – get this – NOT OPEN ON WEEKENDS so there wasn’t anyone there to authorize his transfer to rehab, so his doctors RELUCTANTLY allowed him to go home. THIS WAS AND REMAINS A PRETTY BAD IDEA, Y’ALL! But we are in America, dealing with the American healthcare system, which is complete and utter garbage at the best of times.
So my mom, who herself has like 4 different kinds of cancer, is in charge of dealing with him most of the time. My sister checks in and does what she can, which is good because she’s the only one of us with formal medical training! Ma does what she can (or what he allows her to do, which is not a lot because he’s a stubborn old donkey) and so that leaves me, the least soft and cuddly person around, to drop in and make sure things are ticking over.
And this is my dad we’re talking about here. We are basically the same person, temperament-wise, which is NOT A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS all the time. He quit talking to me for seven years one time and that is not, in any way, an exaggeration or hyperbole. Seven solid years, he didn’t say a single word to me. So there is a certain amount of treading lightly and… let’s just say “man management” involved. If you don’t know what “man management” might be referring to, then CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A MAN AND ARE CURRENTLY BEING MANAGED BY AT LEAST ONE WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE. Buncha donkeys, each and every one of you.
It takes a bit of zigging and zagging to get the man what he wants within the reasonable boundaries of what he actually NEEDS. It ain’t easy and I’m telling you right now if you look up the world “querulous” it will say “see the entry for ‘ornery'” and there you will find a photo of my little Daddy, being all grumpy about stuff.
Not without reason, because holy shit having a bunch of strokes is nobody’s idea of a good time, but hoooooooooooo boy. You know? If you know, you definitely know.
He’s recovering well, and if he chooses to actively participate in the various therapies available to him, he will improve quickly and start feeling better very soon. Then we can go back to him being grumpy at us for normal reasons and I can stop having to be Florence Goddamn Nightingale, when I am ill-suited to that role.
Like we keep saying, this is why we moved here. So.