Saturday, October 31, 2015

In which Primo annoys me greatly

Primo has been back from Florida for two and a half hours and I am already ready to shoot him.

"I have to be annoying to you!" he says. "I can't be annoying to anyone else."

"I suggest you be annoying to the people who are causing the stress in your life," I retorted, "and not to the ones who are being nice to you and working so you can have time off."

"You don't want to be nice to my father!" he said.

Well of course not.

"What if it were your mom who was sick?" he asked.

"I would not be able to take months to take care of her!"

"Then who would?"

"My brother and sister would help and my mom has a huge network of people who would help her. That's what happens when you are nice to people and do nice things for them - they will do nice things for you."

"My parents didn't build a network," Primo said.

"Then I guess they don't get help."

"That's why I have to help. I am stuck."

"You don't have to do as much as you do."

"But Jack won't do it right!"


"But he won't. You need to be nice to my dad."

"I have not been mean to him. But I don't trust him."

"You want some grand apology."

"It would be nice. It would be nice if he would say to you, 'I know I have been a complete asshole and I don't deserve for you to be this nice to me. I appreciate it.'"

"He's not going to say that."

"Yeah. I know."

In which I recommend that Sly follow the 12-step process

Where was I?

The bleeding was from the surgery. A slow bleed from the incision. They gave Sly a transfusion and he is much better.

He met with the oncologist, who offered chemo as an option. "It can increase your survival chances by five percent," she said.

"What is the rate without the chemo?" Primo asked.

"Twenty five percent," she told him.

I would not go through chemo for an five percent increase.

I would not go through chemo for a ten percent increase.

I might go through chemo for a 50% increase, but that is the minimum.I have seen what chemo looks like.

Primo came home today. He is home for a week. He spent yesterday scrambling to find people to take care of Sly's issues. He had to find someone to feed the cats ("Just pay the vet techs," I said.). He has to find someone to bring in the mail. Someone to do Sly's laundry. Someone to visit Sly.

This is what he did.

Here is a tentative schedule for the week. (Cleaning lady and Maria, you are welcome to work out details of the cat schedule differently if it's convenient for you.)

Cats - AM
Cats - PM
Visit Dad
Saturday, 6/27
Cleaning lady

Sunday, 6/28
Cleaning lady
Jack (litterbox change not needed)
Jack (+ kids?)
Monday, 6/29
Cleaning lady

[Random friend of Ted's who should feel no obligation]
Tuesday, 6/30
Cleaning lady

   (Mon. or Tue.)
Wednesday, 7/1
Cleaning lady

Jack (+ kids?)
Thursday, 7/2
Cleaning lady

[Random friend of Ted's who should feel no obligation]
Friday, 7/3
Cleaning lady

   (Thurs. or Fri.)
Saturday, 7/4
Cleaning lady

Jack or Stephanie?
Sunday, 7/5
Not needed
(Primo returns Sunday afternoon)

I don't know why he makes it so hard on himself. His dad has the money to pay for someone to feed the cats. Sly can go without daily visitors. This friend of Ted's agreeing to do Sly's laundry - is Sly nice to everyone else but me? Because I would not do this stuff for Sly. (Wait! They didn't agree to do the laundry! They said no!)

Primo: My dad has not been mean to you lately.

Me: Uh huh.

Primo: He is even being nice to the nurses and aides.

Me: You mean the people he needs?

Primo: Yes. That is the cynical view.

Me: So now that he needs someone to take him to the bathroom, he does not feel the need to mock their lack of college education and mock how they speak?

Primo: That is a very cynical view. He is an old man. With cancer.

Me: Having cancer does not mean you are no longer a mean person. It does not undo everything you have said and done.

Primo: Maybe he has turned over a new leaf.

Me: Doubt it.

Primo: It could happen.

Me: If he is changing, then he needs to express remorse for his past actions, ask for forgiveness from the people he has harmed, and show a sincere effort to change.

Primo: Maybe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In which Ted is upset that Primo did not call him right away about Sly going into the hospital

Ted is ticked off because Primo did not notify him immediately that Sly was back in the hospital. You know - Monday evening when we finally got to have a nice evening because we were away from Sly and with Stephanie and our nieces and nephew and then on the beach.

We got back to the house at about 10 and discovered that Sly was back in the hospital. We had to get up at 5:30 to go to the airport. So we had very little time to hang out with just us.

Primo said, "I will call Ted tomorrow. I don't have time to deal with his interrogation now. I want to spend time with you."

I agreed. "There is no such thing as a short conversation with him."

So Primo waited and Ted got mad because Primo had not notified him immediately. I say if Ted wants minute by minute information, he should be the one whom the hospital calls and he should be the one who drives an hour each way every day to see Sly. I am more than happy to let Ted be in charge.

I was back home. I stopped to see my friend Lois on my way to tennis and talked to her and her husband, Tom, who is a surgeon. I have been keeping Lois up to date on everything. She went through drama with her mom and her siblings. Her mom died three years ago and she is still trying to get everything settled with the house and the estate. It's hard getting siblings to help.

I asked Tom about the chemo. "I know they can't start it yet because he is still not healed from surgery, but it would be nice to know what the treatment plan is."

Tom was shocked. "He had a whipple! That is a serious procedure. They are not going to do chemo on an 81 year old!"

I was intrigued. I had not even considered this possibility, but it made sense. My dad was only 62 when he died. He was healthy and fit when he was diagnosed - thought he had pulled a muscle running a 10K. It turned out to be stage IV (ie, "You are going to die") non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The chemo was brutal and would have killed him if he had not otherwise been in such good shape.

I cannot see an 81 year old obese alcoholic going through chemo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In which Sly goes back into the hospital and Primo and I lose all hope of having a summer

Oh you guys. Yesterday was excruciating. Primo and I drove the hour to see Sly. I took my computer because it was a work day and even though I was on funeral leave, my work and my deadlines did not go away.

I wanted to be done with Sly. I wanted to be done with might be the last time I ever see him alive. The man does not like me. He will not make eye contact with me. He will not even look at me.

I am over his not asking me questions because I realize that he shows no interest in anyone, although he did mention that he had heard that Tom Cruise might be gay and Primo and I were like, "Hello 1995." Other than that, I did not hear him exhibit any curiosity about any one or any thing.

True, he is very ill and weak and he is in mourning. I must grant him that. However, when Primo and I were cautiously approaching the topic of What Happens Next and discussing chemo, which we still do not know if he will have, I told him some about what chemo had been like for my dad.

Here are some questions I would have expected to get after mentioning that my dad died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and the chemo made him lost a third of his body weight and all his hair and he was so sick he could eat almost nothing.

1. Oh. Your father died of cancer?
2. When did that happen?
3. That must have been very hard for your family. How did you take care of him while he was going through chemo?
4. What did he eat?
5. How long after he was diagnosed did he die?

But no.

Primo and I put in our time - Primo was mad at me because I kept wanting to go. I kept pointing out to him that he had said we would leave by 3, 3:30 at the latest, but then we didn't leave until 3:45. We were supposed to have dinner at Stephanie's - I wanted one nice evening in my time there.

 I know, I know. The trip was not about me. But one nice evening? Is that too much to ask?

Primo said I was too impatient with a sick old man and I am sure he was right.

It's just that I don't think that being old and sick automatically gives someone the right to be treated nicely. I mean, there are plenty of bad people who live to be old and sick and they do not become good people just by virtue of their age and health status.

I am not saying Sly is evil - he is not - but I am saying that I am not obligated to overlook the past ten years just because.

"You need to be nice to him," Primo says.

"I am nice to him," I say.

"You are polite and cordial," he answers.

"That, pal, is the definition of nice," I said.

[My 17 year old niece has started calling everyone "Pal." She sounds like a fast talker from a 40s movie. I don't know where she got it.]

So Primo and I finally left and I did a little skip in my head - a little skip of happiness that I might never have to see Sly again - and drove back to the house. An hour drive.

Five minutes before we arrived, Sly called. They wanted to give him a transfusion because his hemoglobin is low.

OK. That sounds like a good idea.

Primo: Do you want me to come back up, Dad?

Me: (Say no. Say no.)

Sly: No. I guess.

Primo: I can.

Sly: I don't think so.

Primo spends the next hour agonizing.

I call my sister, who is a nurse practitioner. She tells us that it is not uncommon at all for an older person post surgery to have low hemoglobin. She says it is probably not related to the surgery, as that was a month ago.

"He might have been anemic already," she said. "Poor nutrition, all kinds of stuff might have him anemic now."

Sly calls again, says he feels fine, tells Primo no, do not come up.

Me: If I needed a blood transfusion, you better believe I would want you next to me.

Primo: Really?

Me: Even if I tell you no, you don't need to come, you need to come. I really want you there.

Primo: But why?

Me: Because I pass out when I have blood taken! And probably when I have it put in.

Primo: So even if you tell me not to come, you still want me to come.

Me: Yes.

Primo: What if I had something else I had to do?

Me: I suppose if you were going to the Rolling Stones concert, I would not expect you to miss it.

Primo: I don't care about the Rolling Stones. What about Dennis De Young? Would I have to miss him?

Me: No.

Primo: OK.

We decide to go over to Stephanie's anyhow.

We have a lovely time. My niece and nephew, who are just graduating from college, ask, "Why is Uncle Primo taking care of Grandpop and Dad is not? Uncle Primo lives a thousand miles away and Dad lives an hour from the hospital."

It is a good question. The answer is a combination of

1. Jack doesn't volunteer for things
2. Primo is a control freak who will not ask for help and will not delegate

Maria: Mom, I told Dad you were picking up the food for the funeral. He asked why you were doing it. He said he would have done it.

Stephanie: Because Uncle Primo asked me to.

Maria: That's what I told him. He said, "Well why didn't Uncle Primo ask me?"

Me: Because Stephanie called and asked what she could do to help.

After dinner, Primo and I took a walk on the beach. His stepdaughter called to ask how the funeral had gone, to wish him happy father's day, and to tell him that she was sending him a care package.

Primo has some good women in his life.

We got back to the house and started preparing for getting up at 5:30 to get me to the airport.

That's when the phone rang again.

It was someone at the hospital, telling Primo that they were admitting Sly to the hospital because he had gastrointestinal bleeding. (You don't want to know how they know that.)

This was 10 p.m.

Primo was exhausted. "I can't relax at all," he said. "This is what it's like. Every time I think things are getting better, they get worse again."

I called my sister right away. My concern is to relieve suffering for Primo. Any information I can get that helps him feel better is a good thing.

My sister, as usual, was stellar. Took our late call. Explained what the bleeding could be. "Could be the cancer has spread," she said, "or he has developed a bleeding ulcer."

These are not good options.

When Primo notes that Sly had had his first BM in six days two days earlier (I know - you always wanted to know this kind of stuff - so did I) and that he usually uses laxatives and yes, he is taking narcotics, she laughs. "Or he could have developed a hemorrhoid."

She continued. "They will probably give him antibiotics, take him off food, and scope him. I can't say a whole lot without seeing his chart,  but that might be what's going on."

Primo finally reached Sly. "If I have to go back there tonight," Primo said, "I will have a night without sleep."

Sly was cranky (I cannot blame him for that) but insisted that Primo not come up. Bless him for that.

Poor Primo was slumped over in exhaustion and quasi despair.

"If it is the cancer spreading," I said, "I want him to die right now. I don't want him to have to go through chemo. But if it's just a hemorrhoid, then I want him to get better immediately. This limbo has to end."

Primo just shook his head. "I am never going to get to leave."

He might not. Not for a while. Maybe we should just say goodbye to all our summer plans.

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.

In which Primo tries to bring up the Tough Subjects but Sly adroitly dodges

I am in Sly's rehab room now with Primo. It is hard to be angry with a feeble old man who can hardly move and whose room smells of urine.

Primo: Do you have a goal of going back to the house to live by yourself?

Sly: I have a goal of going back to the house to live by myself for a limited time. I have also thought of starting up a group of people who live alone and once a week, each cook a meal and have a meal together.

(lots of strained, indirect conversation about what it would take for Sly to move home)

Primo: A question we have to answer before I go home next week is who will do your laundry?

Sly: I have more clothes!

Primo: Yes, but a lot of the t-shirts at home have stains on them.

We have been in here an hour. So far, Sly thinks that his grandchildren or the housekeeper should take care of the cats while Primo is gone (for no money). He does not think he should go home until he can get around easily. I have suggested that if he goes through chemo, living alone might not be practical.

Primo: But Dad, you couldn't get around easily before your surgery.

Sly: Yes I could.

Primo: Dad, it was an effort for you to go to the store and you weren't eating well at all. You were eating those awful burritos.

Sly: I am of the philosophy that I should not waste food.

Primo: Me, too, but I have not been able to bring myself to eat any of those burritos. You eat a lot of fast food.

Sly: I don't cook.

Primo: I know.

So nobody has said yet, "You really should think about assisted living." And it sure isn't my place to say it. At least Primo has said out loud, "I want to go home next Saturday" and "We still hope to go on our vacation in the second half of July."

I forgot to mention - when we arrived, Ted and Ted's Wife were here. She had just trimmed Sly's toenails.

She really does think he walks on water.

In which I discover that Primo's late sister Nancy used to Make Bad Choices

Me: What are these holes from in the pillowcases?

Primo: Cigarette burns.

Me: What?

Primo: They are from Nancy. She used to smoke in bed. That's how old these sheets are.

Me: But that's not what killed her.

Primo: Nope.

In which I turn down the opportunity to mingle my clothes with Sly's urine-soaked clothes

Primo: Would you like me to put some of your clothes in with my dad's pee-soaked clothes?

Me: No.

Primo: Oh pew! They stink! Should I do this in hot water?

Me: For sure.

Primo: I can add your clothes if you want.

Me: Nope.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In which I tell Primo I hope he dies first, not so he won't suffer from missing me but so I can throw away all of his junk in the basement

Primo: My dad looks sad in these photos. [from the funeral]

Me: He does. It will be sad for you when I die.

Primo: You think you are going to go first?

Me: I hope so! Wait. No. I want you to die first just so I can have the pleasure of throwing away all of your junk.

In which we have Doris' not-service, not-funeral gig

We are back from the funeral and we are exhausted.

However, I have to say that Sly was nice - or at least, he was not mean - to me. I don't think asking me where his urine bottle was by saying, "Aren't you the official urine-bottle holder?" was meant to be a compliment, but whatever.

And Ted was nice. In his speech, he said that his wife and Doris had fallen in love from the instant they met 21 years ago, etc, etc.

I looked across the room at Stephanie and smiled. Clearly, we were not the Good Daughters in Law.

I asked Primo later if TW's knew how much Sly and Doris criticized her behind her back. She ate all the pickled herring, she doesn't know how to load a dishwasher, she served them roast goose and it was disgusting, she drinks too much (glass houses). Primo doesn't know.

About 20 friends and neighbors showed up, which was a more than respectable showing considering that all Primo did was place an obituary ("They took out the Oxford commas I had used!" he fumed about the paper and the obituary) and tell one of the neighbors. It was truly touching to see that many people at the service.

I also noticed in the slide show that although there were photos of Isabel and of Stephanie, both ex-DILs, there was not one of me. I mentioned it to Primo.

"What? Oh no! Are you offended? You should be offended."

I am not. I don't care. I know where I stand.

Primo and I had to drive an hour to pick Sly up and then go an hour back to the funeral home, Then we had to repeat the process to return him to the rehab center. The day did not start well - we left 30 minutes after we had intended. We were delayed because we had left the door to the garage open and didn't know if the cats had gotten out, so had to do a recon to find the cats first. They were inside.

Then, as Primo backed out, we heard a thump. We saw a deluge of brown liquid on the driver-side windshield.

Primo's coffee.

In all his life, this was the one time he left the coffee on top of the car.

There was drama. There was tension. And then there was no coffee, which was the saddest part.

We drove the hour to the rehab center. Got Sly in the car. Drove to the funeral home. Got Sly out of the car. Set up the food that Stephanie had picked up. Changed into our funeral clothes. (Because we were not going to drive an hour each way in dress-up clothes in the June Florida heat.)

Ted's wife appeared, the favored one.

"I wanted Sly to die first," I told her, "so that Doris could have a few years of peace. A few years with friends, living in assisted living, meeting people for coffee and talking about books, maybe getting her hair done and getting a pedicure."

"Pedicure?" TW scoffed. "That was not her."

Way to miss the point, TW. But you made yours: You knew Doris better than I did.

She did know Doris better. That's fine. I didn't care. I guess Doris never wrote her a nasty letter. I shrugged, said, "I'm getting something to drink."

I don't need to fight that battle. I was trying to express sympathy for Doris, not start a war.

We took Sly back to rehab. He told Primo he didn't want everyone to go there and have dinner with him, which was what I had anticipated.

When Ted had made his grand pronouncement last night, I said, "Your dad will be exhausted after the funeral! This is a bad idea!"

Wait - I thought I had written about this.

Jack had arranged a Fathers Day dinner at his house. He had invited all of us, but it was mostly for his kids.

Last night, at about 10 p.m, Ted emailed an announcement to Primo and Jack that everyone would gather at the nursing home in Sly's room for dinner.

Jack protested - he already had made plans!

Ted informed him that Ted was changing the plan. Jack was ticked. But you know - Ted. Ted has decided he is In Charge.

My comment was that I suspected that the last thing Sly would want - this is an 81 year old man who has just had surgery and has had a few infections and problems since - would be a bunch of people in his room after an already-long day.

And of course I was right.

Sometimes there is great relief in being right, although we still had to take Sly back. I would have been happy to abdicate that responsibility to someone else.

Primo and I spent some time with Sly in his room, then drove back with the Bag du Jour of Urine-Soaked Clothes. It sat next to the urn containing Doris' ashes. Poor Doris. Even in death, Sly has to dominate.

In which I see Doris' obituary and am appalled

You guys, I don't know if I wrote about this in June when Doris' obituary came out. I have scanned the posts but don't see anything. This may be redundant - please forgive me. It is now October and believe it or not, the Sly and Doris drama has not stopped. Poor Primo. His year of relaxing has turned into a year of exhaustion.

Sly wrote Doris' obituary.

Even in death, he could not let her shine.

In life, he hated that she was a better singer than he was. He was always criticizing her and putting her down. That is not how you treat someone you love.

In her obituary, the very first line was that Doris had died but only after she learned that her husband had survived surgery.

Here it is:

Doris, of 123 Main, Anytown, died at the Place on Wednesday. She lived long enough to know that her husband had survived an operation  the day before.

I read that and said to Primo, "Your father has made your mother's obituary about him."

"Yep," he said. "That's what he's like."

In which we have a fight because I was being a bitch

Last night, I started a fight with Primo and I shouldn't have. I hate hate hate being in Sly's house and sleeping in the miserable guest room. I am exhausted because I have not slept well all week, thinking about how I have to be here, and I did not sleep well last night because the bed in the guest room is crummy and one of the cats hurled himself at the door repeatedly because he was lonely and wanted to be in with us.

I was cranky and Primo wanted me to be nice to Sly and even though I feel bad for Sly in his situation, he is still a mean person.

Me: I do not want to be here. I hate it here. I hate being at your mom and dad's house. I do not want to visit him again.

Primo: My dad is sick! Be nice to him!

Me: I have already been through a sick father. I have already done this. He has never been nice to me. Why should I be nice to him?

Primo: Then be nice to me. My mom's funeral is tomorrow. Be nice to me.

Well what do you say to that but, "You are right. I am wrong. I am sorry."

In which I return to the scene of the bad bacon eating crime

Primo is making bacon. I told him I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do for me to eat bacon at his mom and dad's house.

However, Ted's wife mentioned last night that you know, Sly and Doris did not like me because of my politics. So it wasn't just bacon.

Me: What do you mean? I never talked about politics with them!

TW: Well you know.

[Apparently, they shared this information with TW's - about how they didn't like me because of my politics.]

Me: I never talked about politics with them!

TW: Yeah, but Primo told them.

Me: But that's so stupid. Who uses political views as a basis of whether to like someone?

TW: Politics were very important to them.

Me: I couldn't care less what people think. I have friends from all sides. That is about the least important thing in a relationship.

TW: I was very close to them. [Read: I agree with them so shut up bitch or I will cut you.]

Other things:

1. Last night, Primo and I ate at Jack's house with Jack, Ted, Ted's Wife, and their son, who is mentally retarded. TW's no longer has a relationship with Ted's mom (aka Sly's ex) because TM emailed TW once telling her that it was her fault that the son was retarded because TW's had smoked throughout her pregnancy.

I am on TW's side on this.

1. Congenital problems are not caused by smoking.
2. Even if the son's problems were caused by TW's actions, telling her it is her fault that her child is damaged is unkind. It is beyond unkind - it is unspeakably cruel. There is nothing to be done at this point. It cannot be undone.
3. Who does this kind of thing?
4. Really? Who does this?

2. The funeral is today. Last night, Sly asked Primo to get three dozen yellow roses for the funeral from a specific florist. The florist closes at 5. Today is Sunday. The florist is not opened today. Sly asked at 6.

I called the grocery store and they did not have any yellow roses. I asked Ted if he would track some down this morning. He is on it. Primo is upset that Ted and Jack are not doing more - and he is justified in being upset, but sometimes, you have to ask people to do things. They are not going to think of it on their own.

3. By the same token, Ted told Primo that Primo is in charge, etc., and said that Primo should come up with a 30 day/90 day/one year plan with Sly. Primo's face fell. Primo is deep into the crisis right now - Sly had a bladder infection two days ago. Yesterday, he had two accidents that required a change of clothes and a transport back to the house of urine-soaked clothes for washing. Primo is so deep in the day to day that he does not have time to think about the big picture.

I asked Ted if he would draft a plan to help Primo out. He said of course.

[October update: It has been four months since that happened and Ted still has not drafted that plan. So much for asking.]

Sometimes you just have to ask people.

4. I noticed that the yard is really overgrown. I asked Sly if he wanted Primo and me to do some yard work tomorrow.

"Oh no," he said. "I'll take care of it when I get home."

Then he had his second urine accident.

5. Stephanie called this morning asking what she could do to help for the funeral. She is not even considered part of this family any more, but she is the only one who is looking for ways to take some of the burden from Primo. Ted did what was asked, but has not said, "Primo, let me take care of a, b, and c with dad so you can focus on planning your mother's funeral."

6. Yesterday, Primo, Stephanie, and I went around the house looking for photos of Doris for the funeral. There are photos on almost every horizontal surface and all over the walls. Photos of Nancy and Primo and Ted and Jack and Stephanie and the grandkids and Sly and Doris. Some of these photos are 50 years old. There is a photo of Isabel!

There is not one - not one - photo of me. Primo and my mom both send copies of photos from our wedding to Sly and Doris. (They had not taken any while they were there.) But there is not one of those photos showing. There is not one photo of me. :)

7. When Primo picked me up from the airport, he told me, "I was so worried because your plane was delayed because of the thunderstorm. I thought your plane was going to crash and my mother had just died and my dad is sick and my life was just going to hell."

I answered, "But if I died in a plane crash, you would get a lot of insurance money! Then when your dad dies, you would have even more money! You could follow your political bliss!"

He shook his head. "I would rather have you."

He is not usually given to imagination and sentiment.

8. When Stephanie was here, Primo called Sly to ask what clothes he wanted to wear for the funeral.

"He never wears long sleeves," Stephanie said. "And he will want these pants with the elastic waist."

Not exactly funeral attire, although in Sly's defense, he has just had surgery and probably doesn't need binding clothes around his waist.

Primo showed the clothes to Sly and asked if he wanted socks.

"No!" Sly thundered. "No socks!"

Well OK. It is his wife's funeral. He gets to make the rules.

In which I have survived the first 36 hours and might survive the second with the xanax Stephanie gave me yesterday

I am 36 hours into this endeavor. I am exhausted. I have 36 hours to go. I just want to survive.

There has already been so much drama. I am taking notes and will tell you all about it later. Too much going on right now.

But here are some high points:

Ted and TW's told Primo that because he is the executor of Sly's will and a trustee on his trust that it is up to Primo to "make the hard decisions" and "guide Sly to the right decision." It is Primo's job.

TW's also told Primo that he was lucky that he was unemployed and that we are not "financially strapped" because it is giving Primo the opportunity to take care of Sly.

Then she said it to me.

"Isn't is so lucky that Primo doesn't have a job so he can take care of Sly?" she asked.

She had just told me that she was not going to let Ted stay there longer than two weeks. "He has things to do at home!"

I replied, "It was not our plan that he spend the year doing this. He was supposed to be taking a well-deserved sabbatical, not washing Sly's urine-soaked clothes."

Then she said, "And of course it's really lucky you guys aren't financially strapped so you can do this!"

And to that, I had no answer. Here's what I wanted to say:

1. "Ted'sWife, I do not work as a hobby. Having Primo not work for a year is a real sacrifice for us and we are not making it so Primo can take care of his parents and listen to his dad complain about what bad taste Primo has in women and give Sly his urine bottle."

2. "Ted'sWife, we are not 'financially strapped,' but we are not rich. We do not live paycheck to paycheck, but frankly, anyone our* age and with our education and our opportunities who has not had disaster in their lives should not be 'financially strapped.' We are very very careful with our money and the only reason Primo is taking a year off is because we are so frugal."

* Meaning Ted'sWife, Ted, Primo, and me. Those people are the "our" in this statement.

3. "Ted'sWife, has your husband ever considered getting a job? Have you guys considered not parking in the short-term airport parking when much cheaper parking is available? Have you considered eating leftovers instead of throwing them away? There are ways to prevent being 'financially strapped.'"

See the Ceramic Cat of Many Colors above? It is on Doris' mantle. It is a Companion Cat to the one she sent to Primo. (I had to show the photo of the one she sent to us because the original photo I posted was not showing.)