Sigh. The battle goes on.
Some of my readers may remember that I wrote a few months ago that my father's doctor suspected that he had contracted Alzheimer's disease. This diagnosis has since been confirmed. After much struggle, we were able to get my father into a proper long-term care facility, where we expect that he will be for the remainder of his life. He moved into this facility on Monday.
He managed to come to the wedding, but it was clear to most of the family who hasn't seen him in the past ten weeks that he had come down a long way, both physically and in his mind. On the whole, the emotional response was shock. I felt some of that myself.
Starting on Monday evening and ending yesterday, my sister, my brother and I, along with my daughter and her husband, have taken turns to walk through my father's house and see what is salvageable. My sister has had more opportunity to do that; she came to live with my father about two weeks ago; unfortunately, she also withheld a lot of information from my brother and I because, well, my sister is living in denial and has trouble expressing herself when in an emotional state.
As such, we didn't discover that my father got rid of all the beds in the house about four weeks ago and has been sleeping on the floor. We didn't know that mice had proliferated in the basement and have now gotten to the point where lyme disease is a real danger. We didn't know that the contractors who were to come in and make the house ready for sale were set to fumigate the house today, so that instead of having two weeks (as we had been told) to deal with things in the house, we only had two days. We didn't know that my father has been steadily demolishing the house, doing so right in front of my sister, who was so distraught by this that she simply kept it to herself.
My parents bought the house in early 1967. My first memories start later than that date, so I don't remember a time when they did not live in the house. Throughout my father's life, he has steadily rebuilt and renovated the house, regularly replacing the siding, repainting, updating the plumbing and the wiring, rebuilding sections of the house, expanding it three times from its original form, making it into something wholly unique. Four years ago, when my mother passed away, the house was pristine; both my parents were high-strung, fanatical clean freaks, keeping the 3,100 square foot house neat as a pin. As of yesterday, while picking over the devastated remains of the furnishings and fixtures, while cleaners were stripping everything off every wall and out of every closet, the house is a shambles.
My father has apparently thrown away thousands upon thousands of dollars of porcelain, artworks, collectables of every kind, including about 1,000 vinyl records dating from 1948 to 1962, a hundred hours of 8 mm film, stamps collected by my grandfather up to 70 years ago, first edition books owned by my grandmother and only the devil knows what else. We shared notes and searched for things that have simply vanished. We know that before losing his ability to drive that he was regularly making trips to the city dump, to "simplify" the house, we were told.
The whole thing is a bloody tragedy. There are no words for it. My brother and his wife were able to save some of the most valuable furniture and tools, table-saws and drills, on the whole worth about $10-12 thousand new. I don't like my brother but I don't begrudge him these things and I'm glad he was able to find a place for them. My son-in-law preserved some as well. My daughter has rescued four royal Dalton porcelain dolls from the 1960s; my brother's wife and my sister shared three others. I don't know what else my sister took before my father was moved to the home. My father was not able to completely destroy the record collection ~ about half of it remains. I found a few of my lost, deeply adored treasures from my childhood, but most everything was gone. It was tremendously hard to feel motivated to dig too deep into piles of garbage, cans of paint and oil and such, seeing evidence of mice chewing, so no doubt some things were missed.
I feel sad. I still feel in shock. And angry ~ dreadfully, bitterly angry. I know it is the disease, and I know that the final appearance of the house was due to that. But my father was also an intensely selfish person. He had plenty of opportunity years ago to request help in organizing his home and his life, but instead he adopted a "self-reliant" pose and in the process, managed to abuse his children one more time for good measure.
At least, this is done. One more rock turned over and the pestilence redressed. There's just one more miserable act in this miserable drama, the one that comes on the day he dies.