Thanksgiving, revisited

This is a messy situation, that requires far too many words to bother reading, but I just want someplace to write it down, to document, to witness, and to have it so I can look back and remember what really happened…

I started this on 12/27/2015 and finished it today, 3/5/2016. It really is much too long…

First some history. What really happened on Thanksgiving will follow.


Dec 2013 Mom had fallen at home, in the garage, some time during the night. My dad found her later, but because of his Parkinson’s, he could not help get her up. He also felt that she should be able to get up on her own. So he covered her up with blankets, and sat there with her. He called me maybe 8 (?) hours later and left a non-descript message at work. I am not good with messages at work, they sit on my phone usually, because I teach and am in and out of classes.

My sister ultimately got over there and called 911 after seeing what the actual situation was. Because of staying on the ground, Mom now had rhabdomyolysis: , including acute renal failure. She was seriously ill, and we were all preparing for the worst.

But Mom was a woman with nine lives, and much to everyone’s surprise, she improved, her kidney values normalized, and, against the doctor’s recommendations, Dad chose to have her brought home for us to care for her. We had a conversation with the doctor – Dad, Sister, and I. My sister, in spite of working from home and five kids at home, was going to spend the nights at the folks’ and stay there and help. I remember the doctor warning us that this is a bigger job than we realize, and don’t hesitate to bring in help. (He was right.) I also remember him being very angry with my dad for not calling 911 and providing adequate care for Mom. Skilled nursing and an increased level of care was recommended, but my dad resisted, was defensive about his (lack of) actions, and us kids really didn’t fully understand Mom’s limitations at the time.

The doctor was right, it was a bigger job than we realized, and my sister couldn’t manage it (none of us could have). Aside from their physical demands, my folks were difficult, and my sister’s job was in jeopardy. Dad would not bring other care in. So, Sister went home, and all three of us sisters (and BIL) did what we could, and we were all exhausted, running on fumes from the years of care and the need for ongoing increased care.

Mom then fell Feb 2014 and hit her head and needed to be taken to the emergency room. The staff there was great, Mom checked out okay, but she was a mess in general (weak, confused, unkept), and they found some way to get her admitted to a care facility.

At the facility she improved dramatically, a testament to what good care will do for a neglected senior. At home Dad worked under the philosophy of “use it or lose it”, so she was forced to try to do a lot of things for herself that she really needed help with, and she suffered because of this. At the facility, she was sleeping, she was fed, and someone else was caring for her illeostomy bag. She even made friends, which was a first for her. She was relatively happy there.

I remember at the facility, after she had improved, she held my hand while watching Dad talk to someone. She was telling me that she understands it’s time for her to be on her own now, and Dad won’t understand that. She knew she shouldn’t be at home anymore and was ready to be properly cared for. She seemed relieved.

Dad’s plans, however, were different. He kept telling us how Mom kept talking about wanting to come home (not true), and how terrible it was at the facility (not true, though none of them are perfect). This might have been the first time we profoundly noticed that his perceptions and interpretations of events were very very wrong. We had no clue that that was going to get much much worse.

Dad refused to provide outside care for Mom, and was still the one making the legal decisions for her. He decided to take Mom home AMA (against medical advise). He wanted all of us to divide up the 24 hour care.

We pleaded, we cried, we felt terrible that we couldn’t provide this for our mother and we had to stand up to our father to protect what little we had left of ourselves after giving more and more each year. It fell on deaf ears, and that time, including a terrible emotional meeting with the social workers, marks the beginning of the end of who my father was.


After that big emotional scene, Mom came home, we all did what we could, and it was a terrible situation. The facility said that they would report to APS (Adult Protective Service), and they didn’t. I should probably note that this was very tough on Dad too, but he was playing the role of hero in his eyes and refused to make both of their lives better.

After the facility, I had a binder of information about how we might be able to bring in care for Mom, about looking for facilities, etc. I did what I do, I researched everything I could, knowing that they didn’t have much money, and there were two of them whose futures had to be planned for. (Dad recently bragged that he hadn’t bothered to read any of the information that I had brought over.)

After another episode of some sort, and Mom is in the ER again. This time, at my encouragement, they do refer the case to APS. Their involvement starts Dad’s mindset, you are either for or against me, and you can’t be both. So, if you are not doing exactly what he desires of you, you are officially against him.

APS tried for a long time to do what they could. They got Mom a grant for a home aide several hours a week, they strong-armed him into signing health and financial DPOA’s. We all survived.

That summer I also discovered that he had a chunk of money that he had been keeping secret from everyone, that could have been used to provide some care for Mom, without compromising his future 😦

But I was the most proactive one doing research, so I was most against him. And from that time on, he became meaner and meaner towards me. First it was a bit snarky, and then it got to the point I wouldn’t go over there alone, I needed other people there so he would be halfway decent. When we had to take that chunk of money to provide care when we kidnapped Mom and placed her in a facility, I was the one that took the lead on the financials, I am the most “not on his side”. (Thanks to Sister and social worker for the actual kidnapping!)


Thanksgiving was difficult. Mom died on 11/6. She was cremated, and I hoped to have a day of memory on Thanksgiving. My sister brought food, I put together a tribute slideshow, etc.

Dad was starting in on Sister about the money that we had to take from his control to care for Mom. We all were just settling in, but Sister started talking about leaving (what we do when Dad gets mean like this).
I walked over between them, with my arms out in front like a referee, coffee cup still in hand, trying to stop the interaction, and Dad hauled off and hit me. He missed “me” and got my arm and knocked the coffee cup from my hand (thankfully not very full and had a lid). I turned to him and basically said “WTF”, as he tried to pick up his walker and further hit me.

I held his arms so he couldn’t move them, I don’t quite remember what I said then, but I let his arms go (I just kept telling my self not to bruise him or make him fall), and he tried to swat at me several times.

Dad told Sister that one night Mom wouldn’t be quiet and stop yelling, so while he was changing her illeostomy bag, he said he put a washrag in her mouth to keep her quiet.

I then confronted him about the washrag, and his immediate reply was “who told you that?”. I then went off on him, asking him about his treatment of Mom, asking him if he ever got mad at her like me and hit her. I said a few more things about this, and then I just had to leave the room.

We have no proof Dad ever hit Mom. Mom says he did, byt we didn’t believe her, because she also said that we would hit her, and we know that wasn’t true. We struggled with this A LOT….

Thus was the end of the Thanksgiving as the food was proportioned, packed up, and we all left.


Dad has memory problems, and a weird hero complex. As he tells this story to my nephew, Dad got mad at me about Mom so he started yelling at me. I started to attack him and he had to restrain me by holding my arms (which he could not physically do). I responded by biting him. To get me to stop biting him, Dad started head-butting me, and then I responded by hitting him twice, really hard in his gut, hitting (aiming for?) his abdominal aneursym. It’s a fantastic tale he has imagined.

He explains to all now that I have gone totally insane, and I think he really believes that.


I don’t think I’ve seen Dad since this incident. To add to matters, he finally discovered that I had taken the rifles and ammunition from the house, as a precaution. I am not sure he and I will be able to speak until he actually loses enough memory to not know who I am. I am clearly, in his mind, Against.



my dad is a narcissist

I guess dad has always been a bit of narcissist, but Mom took the brunt of it, and she sheltered us from what she could. That is not to say that Mom was perfect, or didn’t make mistakes, but, even as she aged, and before she died, she cared about us, and our lives. In fact, before she started her two days of seizures from which she never later woke up from, some of the last words she said to my sister were not to cry – she didn’t want us to cry because she was dying. (Love you Mom!)

This whole thing is important for me to understand. I always wondered how I could marry a sociopath/malignant narcissist (thankfully, now my ex), and how cliché is it to find out now that it’s probably related to patterns from my father. I had no clue, but I’m thankful for this added perspective.

Information on the web is hard to find, so much of it is extreme, and we weren’t exposed to extreme – whatever dad’s personality issues where when we were young, they didn’t appear overtly destructive to me, but more related to apathy or a lack of empathy, I guess a more silent destructiveness. That is, until now, as dad is ageing. Google narcissism and demetia together, and all sorts of hits come up, mostly things written by adult children trying to care for these difficult elderly adults. There is at least one study possibly linking narcissism to frontal lobe dementia.

Looking at one list, they list that narcissists require loyalty, and they keep score. This hits home – dad is obsessed with whether a person is either “for or against” him. When we argued for care for mom, in his mind, he took that as being “against him”. And he does keep score – that part of his memory is intact. In 2013 when I was actively looking for ways to get mom into assisted living, that was the beginning of him turning against me in an angry and evil way, which has done nothing but elevate since that time.

He also remembers things wrong, but mostly in terms of interpreting interactions incorrectly – usually interpreting them the way he prefers. I’ve seen this consistently with all types of interactions, and is one reason he can’t evaluate medical decisions properly – everything he hears is about how it will work out the way he hopes it to.

Empathy, introspection, humility, evaluation have become nonexistent.

I don’t think of my childhood as being scarred by my parents. They made mistakes, but I found ways that provided me structure and support. I’m not sure my sisters can say the same things.

I understand the person my mom became when she had dementia. I do not understand the person that dad has become, and that tells me that I didn’t understand the person that he was. They say that frontal lobe problems cause behaviour changes, but this doesn’t feel like it’s all just dementia, this seems like more of something that was already in him. I think I have some reading to do: