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Monday, November 27, 2006

Familial Badness

Apologies for the lack of posts of late, but things have been massively crazy. Far too massively crazy to recount in one post, so I'm going to stick to the big unpleasantries for the moment.

One thing I didn't mention in my SFN recap was the panicked phone call I got from my sister one evening about the ongoing parental thermonuclear war (the one in which my parents' court date was supposed to be on my birthday, but got postponed twice). Turns out that when our mother said "don't worry, this isn't about the two of you, you won't be put in the middle" what she really meant was "not only am I going to put you in the middle by incessantly talking about how I'm suing your father, I'm going to literally put you in the middle by trying to guilt one of you into coming to the actual hearing and taking the stand!" So, my poor sister got asked to go home (actually, not home - Olean, since my father's position precludes him having this sort of legal proceeding in our county) and just "answer a few questions about who paid for what when you were in college." You know, without being subpoenaed and with opening herself up to what would inevitably be a very unpleasant cross-examination by my father's attorney. Now, I was never really big on this whole lawsuit, but my sister was always far more vehemently opposed than I was. AND my sister was seeing my father that week - on his birthday - but my mom wanted her to keep the whole testifying thing from him so he'd be surprised, ignoring that her lawyer would have to give notice to my father's lawyer about any additions to the witness list. And yet she was supposed to take off work, drive across the entire state, go to court, face down my father in a courtroom and then drive back. Whee!

Well, my sister was obviously upset. As was my mom when I confronted her about it. Apparently my sister and I aren't supportive enough. Because kids are supposed to cheerlead these things? And she wound up informing my sister - via text message, no less - that she didn't have to come testify. After my sister had taken off work, of course.

Well, according to my mom's interpretation, court did not go so well and my father and his lawyer said horrible, nasty, possibly perjurous things about how awful my mother is. And my mother exercised restraint by not entering into the record how horrible my father was. Which, frankly, he was in a lot of ways. And she then tells me how "betrayed" she feels by my sister because my sister had talked to my dad about the court thing (he knew when he saw her due to his lawyer) and that my sister had called my father to say that she wasn't coming after all. Apparently my mom's plan was to say my sister was going to testify but not actually have her do it just to fuck with my dad and try to gain the upper hand in court. So I got bombarded with how horrible my sister and I are for not being supportive and how she doesn't like us, especially my sister, and how she really didn't care if we came home for Thanksgiving. Which would have been nice to know before I bought the damn plane ticket.

So the backdrop for going home for Thanksgiving was established. Though my mom got nicer (to me, at least) after that unpleasant conversation. Then two days before I was to go home, my father informed me that he was sick. Really sick. Went to the hospital with uncontrollable heart palpitations and a resting pulse of 190 sick. And that he was going to have to go to the hospital in Erie and have some tests and wasn't sure when he'd be out or what he'd be up to but he at least wanted to do Thanksgiving in a restaurant and that he had hockey tickets for the day after Thanksgiving that we should go to but he didn't know if he'd be up to it. Now, as a neuroscientist I don't really know much about the heart. But I do know that a heart rate of 190 is bad news and that the fact that a test had revealed his heart was freaking out because it couldn't synchronize to beat properly and was thus just getting faster and faster while not actually pumping enough blood is really, really bad. So when I talked to my mom later that day about what my plans were for the time I'd be home and I mentioned not knowing about the hockey game, she got all cold and pissed and snarky and said if I needed money I should just ask my father to help pay for my flight if I was going to see him twice when I was home anyway. And when I angrily responded that the reason I didn't know was because dad was going to the hospital to try and stop his heart from fucking exploding, she paused and replied:

"Well, you know, it's his own damn fault for being so unhealthy. I'm just not that sympathetic. Sorry."

She tried to backtrack, but it didn't work. So when I took off Tuesday afternoon, my father was still in the hospital despite thinking he'd get out the day before and my mom knew but didn't care. When my flight landed, I had a message from my dad that I'd have to pick him up from the hospital Wednesday and in the drive back from the airport my mom tried to make things better by saying that for the sake of my sister and I, she hoped my father would be okay but for herself, she still didn't feel any sympathy but that I should do what I felt I had to do for him and not worry about her. Gee, thanks.

When my mom and I got to the house, the lawsuit judgement was in the mail. She won. A lot of money, though I didn't ask the exact amount because I don't want to know. Considering that she's getting money for things I paid for - like my rent for the summers I stayed in Pittsburgh and worked in the lab - I imagine I'll finally get some reimbursed. Apparently she feels vindicated. And I think rather unseemingly gleeful at the prospect of my father returning home from the hospital to find out about the judgement against him.

So I picked my dad up from Hamot Wednesday morning. Hospitals tend to give me panic attacks - I think it was all that time volunteering as a candy striper in high school. They got his heart rate down but they can't figure out what is causing it to beat so crazily. They did a cardiac catheterization and didn't find any structural problems, so there must be something electrical wrong. He's on a bunch of meds and has to go back in a month, or sooner if he starts retaining water so he doesn't get CHF. I don't know if he opened the lawsuit letter and I didn't ask because the timing is just so astonishingly awful.

I know he owes my mom and didn't pay everything he was supposed to when my sister and I were in college. I know he wasn't a very good father. Hell, he disowned me for a few years there. But my mom's behavior was so out of line! I'm not used to him ever being the good parent. Ever. I hate being mad at and disappointed in my mom because I know she was always the better parent. This parental role reversal thing is just strange. And it makes for very awkward homecomings.

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Blogger The Retropolitan said...


Problem: SOLVED!

7:41 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...


11:56 PM  
Blogger Dani said...

girl i wish i could take you out for a drink and a hug.
come to florida. I am not working yet.

I second it, stay away from family.

7:06 PM  

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