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Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by Honoré Daumier

Image via Wikipedia

This installment is not for the weak hearted so I might suggest you go read a blog on beer or knitting.

My demon of a father was moved into a nursing home. The mighty dragon is losing his marbles and not really capable of taking care of himself anymore. If you ask me he should have been in a home over a year ago but this is a very difficult move and quite frankly I’m shocked it happened at all.

I’d like to thank the people who will be watching over him because they will have to have great patience and strength to put up with his kind of madness. Undoubtedly he will insult them with his ruthless tongue and he will probably do it in as many languages that his gooey brain has retained.

As I’ve reported before, dear old Dad wasn’t the best of human beings. Calling him a dad at all seems inappropriate because that moniker conjures up images of baseball games, encouraging talks, warm hugs, hot dogs, driving lessons, fairy tales and goblins. Okay I lost myself there a bit but I think you get the point. No, not all of us had 2 parents. Most of us had only one, even if two were present. My dad – this man – left a path of destruction that seems inhuman but hey, that’s life. Now that his is coming to an end, he is reaping what he…

He was a professor of Medieval Spanish Literature, an authority on Don Quixote. His favorite painting Las Meninas by Velasquez. He dressed impeccably, is a large man who looks like a Mexican/Syrian Ernest Hemmingway, had amazing taste in music, antiques, plein air paintings, literature, oriental rugs, anything beautiful; but he could not put his romantic notions of love, friendship and the human condition to use in life. I think in some ways he was Don Quixote.

Sadly he will go to the great beyond not knowing his wonderful children, not knowing what love, family, and friendship mean. He will die surrounded by strangers or perhaps one well-meaning family member or friend. This is what leading a selfish life will get you: nothing.

I had to inwardly say my goodbyes over a year ago because I realized it was too dangerous for me to be around him. Actually I have great compassion for the man because he has suffered for so long. Yes, cruel people suffer – we just don’t get to see it. His kind of cruelty was not really curable because he never sought out the cause (he didn’t think he had a problem). He spent his life doing only for himself and hurting anyone that got in his path.

There is a part of me that wants to go to him no matter the outcome but I just can’t. Not yet anyway. Maybe when his brain is completely fried I will go because then he may think I’m someone else. Dementia is great in some ways because that good old revisionist history comes into play and everyone becomes the hero of their own story. They can choose to ignore all the pain they have inflicted and make-believe they were loving, caring and generous throughout their lives.

Not long ago a man said to me that my dad couldn’t have been that bad. I get this a lot from people who only saw the snake charmer side to him. I’m sorry to say the word but I have to: narcissism. One of the traits of a narcissist is great charm. They ooze charm but if you challenge them you will get bitten. The people who only knew that side of my father don’t want to know who he was. I can’t blame them, it’s too painful I imagine. Who wants to think about that kind of ugliness in a human being?

I try not to get angry with those people because hey, it isn’t their burden and why spoil the memory they have of the man?

I’ve said my goodbyes to dear old papa and hope that his demise is a quick one. Yes, I’ve said it. I hope he goes quickly because he did so much damage to his family but I also feel that his spirit has taken enough. He has suffered long enough and deserves whatever the afterlife has to offer. I think the afterlife will bring him joy – at least I hope so. People like my father don’t intend to hurt but they are sick and don’t know any better.

Were there good times? Yes there were a few good times but they were usually tainted by one of his unpredictable rages. I will say that my love of art, history and the finer things in life can be attributed to him as well as my demented sense of humor. But my compassion for others, loyalty and at least one foot solidly on the ground came from my mother.

Try to remember when you see an elderly person in a nursing home who gets no visitors, and everyone around is shaking their heads saying what horrible children, etc.- try to remember there are 2 sides to every story. Lest you think this is just another adult blaming their parents, etc., I spent a great deal of time with the man, have forgiven him and take full responsibility for my actions as an adult woman…even if I can trace my actions (reactions) right back to him. Fascinating stuff.

My father was not a happy, healthy man so there will be no happy, healthy ending. It will just be an ending. And with that ending perhaps some peace for my family.