Since Father's Day, Mr. Larger Than Life has been doing a slow, downward spiral. Although he's not circling the drain just yet (medicalese for get ready to call the code), he is requiring more attention these days. In between episodes of feeling poorly, he's just as mean and wretched as ever. What do you do with an 81 year old man who is too ornery to live with, but unsafe to live alone?
When he had his emergency embolectomy in June, he told my husband he was afraid to be alone. Since that time, either my husband or my son has stayed there with him. They aren't allowed to open windows to let in the breeze on a balmy summer night. MLTL gets chilled. **At this point, if you cross your arms then briskly rub them, you'll get an idea of the visual cues that go with his complaint of being cold.** It doesn't matter if it's 90 degrees in the house, if the window is open, he'll take a chill. And we won't discuss cooling the house on a 98 degree day, either. Rather than put on a sweater, he makes them swelter. According to my husband, last night, he turned on the heat and set the thermostat to 75 F. Add that to the high humidity and the night was unbearable, but still, he is unwilling to compromise to make his guests comfortable. He nitpicks everyone to death: you dirtied a glass, you're using too much paper towel, you eat too much, your shower was too long, blah, blah, blah. Yet, he doesn't want to sleep alone in the house, eat alone or live alone.
Impossible to please, it takes a saint to live with this man, but he isn't safe to be by himself. He leaves doors unlocked, garage doors open, stove burners lit and water running (except for the shower which he steadfastly refuses to use--it'll be three years in November since he had one). The other day, my husband and son left his home and MLTL came out on the front porch yelling, "where are you, where did everyone go?" They were in the car, close enough to touch the man and he couldn't see them.
This hasn't stopped him from driving and I don't know what to do about that. Part of me wants to report him and part of me realizes that even without a license, he'd probably still get behind the wheel of a car. Lately, he's back to driving downtown to the casino every day. When he cracked his noggin, fractured his skull and survived his subarachnoid hemorrhage three years ago, he'd been going to the casino every single day. He never talked about his losses, but a review of his bank records showed withdrawals of hundreds of dollars every other day for months from the casino's ATM. After his accident, we went to pick up his car at the casino where even the valet staff knew his name and asked after him. In this manner, he's pissed away his retirement savings--in a way, pouring money down the drain. Interestingly if I were to tear up a 100 dollar bill of his in front of him, this man would scream at me, but he sees no problem gambling it all away. Not only do we worry about his gambling problem, we worry he'll be mugged on his way out of the casino or at an ATM. He's a sitting duck and way too blind to see it that way.
After his head injury, his behavior has worsened, and aging hasn't made him mellow. He has no social brakes and blurts out inappropriate things at the unsuspecting public. Since he can't hear himself, he's loud when he does this and has caused complete mortification of family members in public with him. One of these days, he's going to insult the wrong person and get himself clobbered for the effort. Nobody is safe from his verbal assaults that come out of the blue. He had some sort of run in at our dentist's office and "really let them have it." This is code for saying he screamed at some poor girl at the front desk and now can't return there. Ever. Too bad for him, he was in need of emergency dental care this week and ended up seeing someone who fleeced him. The next time I see my dentist, I have to find out what really happened there.
I keep telling myself there is no way on God's green earth that I could live with this man, but if we don't do something, he'll hurt himself or someone else. What if he leaves the burner on when my son or husband are there and burns the house down? I'd never forgive the old goat.
If I cave on this issue and either take him in, or we move in with him, I'll need to start a bail fund. Even if he didn't live forever, a month, a year or two would seem like forever. Sheesh, even dinner with him seems like eternity. I just know I'd end up braining him with my niddy noddy and probably by the end of the first day.
I'm crazy to even be pondering this, but damn it, I want my family back. I'm not liking this split life we're living so MLTL can be looked after. The burden of the past few years has been tremendous and has fallen primarily on my husband's shoulders. I feel badly for him and feel like I should be doing more to help out. I know it isn't easy for him or my son. In the past I've told my husband that if MLTL were to
lose his tongue become incapacitated, I'd be happy care for him, but now I'm wondering if I'm wrong about this stance of mine and the time to act is now. If he were a kind man, there'd be no question about what to do, but believe me, if anything, I've understated how horrible he can be. I can positively guarantee that he'd charge us rent to take care of him. Oh. No, I'm not kidding. He absolutely would.
Obviously, I need to be talked off the fence. I would be insane to even consider living with this curmudgeon, wouldn't I?
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