Monday, October 26, 2015

In which I fill in the missing pieces after I spend a night lying awake thinking about all the things I didn't write about Doris' funeral weekend

You guys, I wrote most of these posts as the events were occurring and just set them to post later. But as I read what is going live these few days, I realize that I have left out a ton of information. All I have said is Lord have mercy I am soooo tired and I have not even explained why.

I have also said that I have been a complete bitch to my poor husband, which he does not deserve.

Tiredness is not a valid excuse for not being nice to the person you love.

But we are still married. And happy. So it's working out.

BTW, some of you have commented about Ted and about Jack. I have the benefit of four more months of information than you guys, so I can tell you that those who have fingered Ted as a big fat jerk have got it exactly right and he gets even worse, if you can imagine, but Jack is actually OK. I promise. It's a good thing - if Primo had two jerky brothers, I think he might reconsider his position on gun ownership.


Primo and I fought about how much funeral leave I would take. My company gives three days, but I was in the middle of a big project, I have been at the company for less than a year, and I really (selfishly) just did not want to be around Sly and Ted and Ted'sWife for one more second than necessary.

But. I love Primo. And this was much harder for him than for me, so I put on my Big Girl Panties and did what needed to be done.

My flight got in late Friday night. It was still an hour to Sly and Doris' house. I had not been there in what - five years? Primo gave me not going to his mom and dad's as a Christmas present every year. He took one for the team by going alone. Not that Sly and Doris wanted me there, but they wanted to be the ones deciding. They did not like having me around but they disliked even more that I did not want to be around them.

The house was as it had always been: full of clutter. Photos on all the walls and most of the horizontal surfaces. Tschotkes (?) on the other horizontal surfaces.  Brass, ceramic, and glass frogs everywhere. Newspapers and magazines stuffed into the crevices. Greasy dust on the vases on top of the cupboards. Clutter clutter clutter. They are not hoarders, but they are on that path.

There was almost nothing to eat that I would want to eat. I didn't even want the pickled herring that Ted'sWife supposedly ate all of. I know! I know I was being bratty! And I should have known to take my own food because remember, this is Sly and Doris Who Do Not Eat Lunch and Do Not Provide It For Their Guests.

There were craisins, which I like, and there were candied peanuts, which I usually like but even if they had not been rancid, it would not have made a good meal.

There was also coffeecake that Primo had bought and it was good. I had coffeecake at midnight and we went to bed.

We were awakened by the Cat Brigade, Cats One and Two jumping at the door trying to open the handle. (These are not stupid cats.) I put in earplugs and tried to go back to sleep.

Got up in the morning - couldn't sleep in because  - cats - and because we had to plan Doris' funeral.

Primo had not yet ordered any food. This was Saturday morning and the funeral was the next day and he had not ordered food.

This would have been something that Ted or Jack could have volunteered to do. That's where a phone call on Friday or any time earlier that week of, "Hey - what can I do to help? Have you had a chance to take care of the food? What about flowers? What about photos?" But no. (Although - and you know I hate to do this - Ted had offered photos.)

I asked Primo if he had ordered the food and he got all panicked and defensive which of course I did not want to make him - my intention was not to attack but to identify what needed to be done and then to do it. He had brought home a catering guide from Publix (a grocery store) so I found the ordering information - could be done over the phone but order had to be in by noon - and picked some trays and tried to calculate how many people would be attending, which was impossible. I had no idea how many people would be there outside of the 14 or so of family.

I told Primo that it would be better to have leftovers than not to have enough food and convinced him - after a lot of drama because if there is one thing Primo hates, it is making a decision with incomplete information (if you have an engineer in your life, you know what I mean) - to order a bunch of food and then I picked what I would like to eat leftovers of.

Stephanie came over, bearing a diet Dr Pepper for me. (I love that woman.) She helped Primo pick out some funeral clothes options for Sly. I was in the closet with them. Stephanie said, "There's the box of porno that Primo and I found when we were getting rid of Doris' clothes!" and there it sat - an innocuous looking corrugated box. Who knew?

I had never been in Sly and Doris' room before and certainly not in their bathroom. I had never availed myself of Sly's offer that Primo and I might shower together, an activity most people enjoy in their boyfriend's parents' shower when they are meeting the boyfriend's parents for the first time.

Primo and I took the clothes and drove the hour to the rehab center where Sly was staying. The room smelled like urine. This is the part where I felt sorry for Sly. He did have a window, but his view was of the back of the next building. His room had that industrial decor, although if people pee and vomit, you probably don't want to use the Good Carpet and the Good Bedding.

He had to use the toilet and called the attendant, who was this lovely cheerful tiny Filipina woman whom he had named, "The Dragon Lady."

Primo said, "She is so sweet! She reminds me of my mother in law."

The attendant put on her rubber gloves and helped Sly do what needed to be done and did the wiping and took a sample AND NEVER STOPPED SMILING OR BEING SWEET.

These are the people who need to make a million dollars a year. Literally dealing with the shit of cranky, sick people. Being sick can make even a nice person cranky (although my dad was always gracious) and if a person starts out cranky, being sick serves as an accelerant.

Primo showed the clothes to his dad. He asked about what they should do at the service. Sly wanted to read a poem and I helped him remember it. (Primo engineer, me English major.) Primo asked his dad about plans for the future.

We were there maybe three hours and not once in that time did Sly make eye contact with me. I even commented about it as Primo and I left. But you know what? If I didn't like someone, having to be around that person while I was very sick would not make me happy and I would also use the Cut Direct.

Sue me.

I cannot blame Sly. He to this point had not pretended to like me. Why should he change now?

We finally left, bearing yet another bag of Sly's urine-soaked clothes. I have to say that they make an awfully good plastic bag these days - couldn't smell the clothes at all.

We went to Jack's for dinner and that's where Ted'sWife told me I was so lucky we were not financially strapped and where Ted told Primo that Primo needed to make a 30/60/90 day plan for Sly.

The only good thing about that evening was that Jack is an amazing cook and the food was fabulous.

Ted kept thinking he was honoring me with such high praise by saying to me, "You know, I DO like you!"

I bit my lip and smiled and thought, "To me, you are dead. And after tomorrow, I might never have to see you again, or, at the least, I won't have to see you until Sly dies and that could be a long time."

On Sunday, Stephanie the Angel picked up the food for us and took it to the funeral home. Primo and I drove the hour to get Sly from the rehab center. Primo dressed him and we maneuvered him into the car. While Primo was putting away the wheelchair, I asked Sly if there was anything I could get for him - some water, a soda, a pillow?

Without turning his head to look at me, which actually is OK because the man had just had surgery and is 81 years old, he said, "Just shoot me."

I shrugged and told him I had left my gun at home because it is too much hassle to get it through security these days.

We got to the funeral home. Got Sly inside. Turned him over to Jack while we changed clothes. Put the food out. Put the photos out. (Remember - not one photo of me! but - there are also no photos of Sly and Doris on display in our house, so we are even - the framed photo of themselves that they gave us years ago to go with the cast-iron cat is in a drawer somewhere. The cat is by the fireplace.)

At the end of the funeral, which was well attended, considering, and at which a few of Doris' friends made some very nice comments, Sly told Primo that he did not want everyone going to his room after  - that he was exhausted, to which I said, "I TOLD YOU SO!"

Only I didn't yell and of course I was preaching to the choir, because Primo had also thought it was a very bad idea.

We took Sly back to the rehab center. Ted'sWife cut his toenails. Maybe she thought that would help her and Ted out in the will? We had Doris' ashes in the car with us. Stephanie took the leftovers back to Sly and Doris' house.

The next day, Primo and I went back to the rehab center. I didn't want to go, but Primo said, "This might be the last time you ever have to be around my dad. Please do it for me."

Not that he wanted me to have time with his dad but he didn't want to have to deal with his dad by himself.

Ted and Ted'sWife had stopped by and Primo wanted to talk to them before they left, so we were in a hurry to get there. I had my work computer with me because I had a conference call that afternoon. I was exhausted and I had a migraine and all I wanted was some cold caffeine.

Primo stopped at a gas station so I could buy a soda. I ran in, grabbed a diet Dr Pepper, and ran to the counter, where I whipped out my money.

That was when I realized I had cut in line. I apologized and stepped back, but the man very graciously told me to continue.

I said - and this is not the thing one says to strangers but when one has a splitting headache and when one is also exhausted, one does not have great judgment.

I said, "Thank you so much. This might be the last time I ever have to be around my husband's father, who hates me. I have a migraine but this soda will help me get through it."

When Primo and I left, I put my hand on Sly's shoulder and (meaning it, because I wanted Primo to come home) said, "I hope you feel better soon, Sly."

He didn't say anything.


  1. Tiredness may not be an excuse for being bitchy to your spouse, but tiredness + tension + migraine + insensitive jerks would try the best of us.I'm glad has one nice sibling. Too bad he split up with Stephanie, she's a gem.

    1. Thanks, Emma. I have to work harder to not let it get to me. Bitter is not a good look on anyone, even with a migraine!

  2. Why does Sly hate all of the people who are caring and considerate? I don't understand this.

    I find it odd as well that he wants Primo to give you his best, but he couldn't find it in himself to give you anything at all while you're there in front of him (best or otherwise)? *sigh*

    Poor Primo. :(

    1. I would say embarrassment has a lot to do with the current situation. Also anger that he can't take care of himself. Sly can't/doesn't want to admit that he is an old man who needs people. Aging is not easy.

    2. Jessica, I don't know. That nurse assistant is so sweet and so gentle and so respectful. We took the funeral leftovers to the rehab center so she and the other nurse assistants, all of whom were lovely, could have a treat.

      I sort of understand Sly - if he came to my hospital room while I was not well, I would not be happy! I would be pretty cranky, actually, that in addition to being unwell I had to deal with someone I don't like. But yeah - his behavior does not mesh with the "Give Goldie my best."

    3. Liz, that makes sense. Being in a hospital bed in diapers (I read ahead and saw a reference to diapers - I had forgotten) and feeling awful and having just lost one's spouse has to make a person feel super vulnerable. Sly does not do vulnerable - he wants to be the powerful one. I would hate the situation, too. (But I also hope that when I do get there, I have not alienated everyone in my life and that my son is not taking care of me only out of obligation - I want people around me who love me and want to be with me, the way we all were with my dad.)

    4. I was mainly talking about you (GD) and Stephanie. These stories are showing how much effort and thought you both are willing to put into helping out when he hasn't shown any kindness toward either of you. :( I don't mean his more recent behaviors in the care facility, but his behavior all along. And now you guys are helping plan and make sure things are running smoothly. Stephanie has to have a heart of gold!

    5. Stephanie is an angel. She and her kids are the best part of Primo's family!

  3. "Why does Sly hate all of the people who are caring and considerate? I don't understand this."

    Hmm. Maybe because he is not caring and not considerate, so he doesn't understand people who are? Or maybe he finds those qualities to be weaknesses?

    I want to feel bad for Sly, I do, but he is the cause of much of his own miseries.

    1. Lioners, I know. When you read just about this part - with Sly in the hospital, it's easy to be sympathetic, but when you put in context of how he has treated people, including Doris, whom he made cry from his meaness, it's harder to feel bad for him.

    2. That makes a lot of sense, Lionors. I have had a thought in the back of my mind a lot lately where I wonder why he hasn't just taken advantage of all of the considerate people in his life instead of alienating them. I know a lot of people who do things like that, especially where they are nice to someone's face when they need something and rude when they don't want anything. I guess at least Sly is consistent and doesn't act loving in one situation and cold in another.

  4. Goldie – possible thought for you. It sounds like a lot of your frustration here is that this is a situation that you have seen coming for years. It’s been like watching a tornado gathering on the horizon and knowing that no matter how fast you move, you are not going to be able to escape it. In large part, because of who Primo is. And nowwwww – it’s hit. So that is nutzoid making, and it makes you cranky even as you try not to be, and man – you guys sound like you are doing a pretty good job of staying sane and supporting each other even when you’re fighting with each other in the midst of the tornado crapstorm.

    But – while Primo could be making ideologically better decisions about all of this, if he were someone who really really did – you probably would not love him so much. Because the compassion and sense of duty and responsibility that makes it hard for him to draw those boundaries with his parents, likely shows up in much more beneficial ways that you appreciate in other places. So it’s all part of him.

    Although I freely give you permission to strangle Sly, Ted, and Jack, if you had to cancel your long-awaited vacation. Or better yet, I’ll do it for you. Cuz nobody should have to put up with that after all the rest!

    - Anon Cat

    P.S. Let's not forget about TW. I mean, if she can clip the man's toenails, she surely can cover for Primo so he can go on vacation.... right? Um. Yes. Well... So yeah, let's not forget about her in the strangle-a-thon. :)

    1. Thanks, Anon Cat. This past week I have been so cranky. This has been going on for a year. And to my shame, I am letting my anger spill over onto other parts of my life to people who certainly do not deserve my ill treatment.

      You are absolutely right about how to look at this. Primo's generosity of spirit is one of the things I love about him. This is clearly not a man who will abandon me when I get old and sick. Thank you for the reminder. xoxo

    2. You're very welcome. And that isn't to say that you shouldn't push to maintain some things for yourselves, limit the impact of others and such. Just that I think Primo is also dealing with a reality - if he did just drop everything and force Ted & Jack to deal with it, things would be worse than they are, and allowing a human you know and have ties to—even one as mean as Sly—to suffer in such circumstances - I think that as much as you kvetch you would not really be able to let it happen either. Which probably makes you even crankier. :)

      - Anonymous Cat

  5. Anonymous (Oct. 27) is very wise! I wish I had had their insight when my spouse was going the extra ten miles for his mom...
    Best wishes to you and Primo - this is an emotional and physical marathon.

    1. Thanks, emma. Yes, in the end we do want husbands who go all out for sick old women. :)