Personal growth through chaos? Absolutely! Life’s most extraordinary, ordinary and absolute worst moment’s are all gateways to personal growth. So let me tell you a chaotic story about my life to prove it!
Chaos ruled my life this summer to the point where I felt like I was living a Dateline series. I was totally bummed out and losing hope of my life every getting back to normal.
We lost our beloved mother to lung cancer.
My mom died in April of 2018. My dad was in failing health and devastated by the loss of his wife of 65 years. For that matter we all deeply felt her loss.
My dad needed a caretaker, so one of my brother’s volunteered to take care of him for the summer. My mom and dad loved Montana, and although summers are beautiful, winters are brutal. Their routine had always been to spend the winter months visiting their eight children. The first leg of their journey started with a few weeks in Oregon during Thanksgiving visiting three brothers and their kids. Next they flew to southern California and spent Christmas and New Years with my sisters and tow other brothers. After New Year’s they would fly to Sacramento and stay here with me and my brother through April. Then they would head back to Kalispell for the summer.
My dad would continue the tradition this year even though it would be a solo journey. It wasn’t the same for him or us, since my mother was not there. He spent October through April 2019 visiting everyone, but he wanted to spend the summer in Montana so we had to find a live-in provider for him, since we all work and couldn’t move there.
We looked for decent providers, but my dad wasn’t happy with any of them. My youngest sister, who had treated the family horribly since the death of our mom, raged loud enough so her jobless, unfaithful live-in boyfriend, (who I will now refer to as a scumbag), got the job of taking care of my 93 year old father. I disagreed vehemently since I’d seen him in action – he lied about everything, cheated on my sister, and hadn’t a job in almost four years. I urged my siblings not to hire him. I just knew that he would not only try to get my dad’s money, but that he would drug and kill him too.
Scumbag had already tried to scam my dad out of $50,000, and had slept with another women at my brother’s house, when my sister wasn’t there. But hey, give him another shot – why not? And guess what – it played out exactly as I thought it would.
When some of my siblings went to visit my dad a month after scumbag’s attempt at employment after three years, the house was filthy, and scumbag, who claimed he was a gourmet chef, and would prepare healthy and delicious meals for my dad, who required a very low sodium diet, was feeding my dad high sodium frozen dinners! The result? My dad had to be hospitalized for THREE DAYS and scumbag couldn’t even take him. He called some of my dad’s friends to take him!!!
Scumbag was allowed to hire someone to help him with my dad off so he could have two days a week off. He actually hired someone to take care of my dad four days a week (we found his calendar) while he went out and cavorted with his new Montana girlfriends. In addition, the women he hired to co-caretake with him, was very attractive and apparently they had a little “fling” going on. As a bonus, he convinced my dad how evil all his children were and that all we wanted was his money. This was odd, since all of us are professionals and make plenty of our own money.
He took his stupidly to the next level.
Honestly, for the past ten years, as my parents aged, all of us have stepped up and taken really exceptional care of him (and my mom too). My dad really loved his family deeply.
How did scumbag convince my dad that we were all evil? By drugging him with Ambien, a highly addictive sleep medication and feeding him a bunch of lies over and over again.
He then took his next step logical step, now controlling my dad from a drugged state, and he convinced him hand over his power of attorney. He planned to open a new account where only him and my dad would have access to the money. And believe me, my dad was in no condition to manage his own money-he was almost 90% dependent on scumbag to take care of him. What a nightmare! Scumbag, in all of his bravado, was bragging to some of my dad’s very good and loyal friends about how he was going to get all my dad’s money, sell OUR house and move to a fancy resort town in Spain!
Thank God, these friends called several of my brothers who jumped on a plane and headed to Montana. We were all beside ourselves with fear that scumbag’s evil plan would play out before they got there, so we hatched a plan. We had my dad’s former office manager and loyal and committed friend for over 40 years, post a “lookout” near our house until my brothers arrived (I told you it was Dateline material). Her role would be to distract scumbag by pretending she had “just stopped by for a visit,” in case he decided to take my dad to his lawyer to change his power of attorney.
Fortunately my brothers got there in the nick of time. They asked for a police escort to come with them and they kicked scumbag out of the house! I guess he put up a feeble fight, but to no avail. My brothers were willing to kick the you know what out of him. This was discouraged by the police officer. My dad has some truly amazing friends who suspected scumbag was corrupt and totally ratted him out.
Stand by your man
I certainly have to hand it to my sister though-she’s really standing by her man. Her rage was off the wall defending “him” and his “innocence” and how he was a victim, working so hard, taking care of dad day and night. What a joke! Her rages and threats delivered by voicemail and text were unconscionable, even wishing death on one of my brothers.
And to ratify her loyalty she has now completely cut herself off from everyone in the family. She blocked us from Facebook, her phone, email and whatever other communication medium she could find, I imagine.
My brother decided, after this debacle, to spend the rest of the summer taking care of my dad. We were all very grateful to him. The plan was to let him finish out the rest of the summer in Montana and move to a facilitated care center, in Portland where two of my other siblings lived. Sadly, my dad passed away on August 24th – another devastating loss for the family :(.
Okay, so I delivered on the chaos part and how now, how about the personal growth aspect? The story continues.
I’d been in an emotionally damaging marriage and decided, after 25 years to divorce my husband. You may be familiar with the saying: “Out of the frying pan and into the fire?” That’s exactly what I did. I got into another dysfunctional relationship, almost immediately, that lasted eight years. He was a former drug addict, but had three years clean and seemed to be Mr. All American. He was very involved with his kids, had his own business, participated in a sobriety group, was fun and funny. However, he was a drug addict and as it turned out he was using drugs most of the relationship, but I didn’t realize it. So why did that happen? Out of that frying pan and into the fire. I hadn’t taken anytime between my marriage and this relationship to make sure I didn’t get into the same mess.
You may think I’m deviating from the original story but this will all make sense. This boyfriend broke up with me five years ago because he found a girlfriend who he said, “accepted him for who he was,” a drug addict. Gosh, I just couldn’t aspire to the new girlfriend’s level.
So, what I learned from my marriage and the next relationship, was how to stop an asshole from a mile away. That’s how I knew scumbag was, well, a scumbag. So we (me and my siblings, except for “I stand by my man no matter what” sister) learned to be a lot more cautious when selecting people to help us, especially in matters so close to the heart, like selecting a caretaker for our dad. Even though my family doesn’t know this yet, I’ve given myself the honorary role of well, “asshole spotter” in all affairs family (including myself!) I’m sure they will be much ingratiated to me.
What else did I learn? I learned how life is without an outstanding set of parents. Although I grumbled about them for many years, they truly were wonderful and loving to all of us, which couldn’t have been easy. Raising eight kids, getting us all through college and many other precarious life situations, visiting all of us on a regular basis, weekly phone calls, celebrating our successful and not so successful moments, and our bi-yearly (okay so that means every other year) family reunions, leaves of legacy of pure, unconditional love.
Although this was an extremely painful part of my life experience, and I am still grieving the loss of my parents, I can appreciate their legacy and honor them always in my heart. I can take all the good they taught me, and brush away the bad, and move forward to create my own legacy with my kids.
I know this may sound cliche, but if you haven’t been in touch with your parents, and they were good, but not perfect, make an effort to contact them. They may really appreciate it and maybe you can start talking to them or seeing them more. If you have your own kids, you know we all make mistakes as parents, just like they did. So try to soften your heart a little. It will not only help you, but it will help your parents and your kids. You can start to form a “new legacy” in your own life.
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