I grabbed the family bull firmly by the horns

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by pigless in VA, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    I am posting this here as it pertains to my family of origin and has little to do with my children.

    Background: My parents divorced when I was 12. My father is now married to a woman who I call the Cactus Queen. Some of you may recall that I invited my step-sister I'll call her Letty (CQ's daughter) to join this forum. Letty and I have thought for years that her mother is a narcissist. I won't bore you with the details. Letty has a biological sister whom I will call Sally. Sally and Letty have not spoken in years. I am on speaking terms with both of them.

    I also have two brothers whom I will call Mark and Randy. Mark lives nearby, but I have noticed a psychological distance between us in recent years. There is an underlying tension between us that I don't fully understand. Letty and I are thinking that perhaps CQ has been filling his ears with dirt on me. I only know that he no longer respects me and would rather have no contact with me. Randy gets along with everyone but he lives in another state.

    Recent events: my father has been suffering a mental decline. Two years ago, Mark and Randy pushed Dad to see a doctor about his memory loss. Dad made an appointment to be assessed but ending up not going. A year dragged by. Finally, CQ encouraged him to see a new doctor. I volunteered to go along.

    We went to the internist, and I was gobsmacked by my father's incompetence. He could not find his license in his wallet. I had to fill out all the paperwork and have him sign it. He could not answer ANY of the doctor's questions correctly. (How many children do you have? Who is the president? What road are we on? etc.) I dutifully typed out an email to my siblings explaining the severity of Dad's memory loss.
    Mark's response was "where have you been?" Out of all of us, he has the most contact with Dad. He had witnessed Dad's decline but not said a word to the rest of us, except possibly to Sally.

    Randy who works as a neuropsychologist, encouraged Dad to make a visit to a neurologist for a more thorough evaluation. I worked with CQ to make that happen. In October, the three of us visited the neurologist. Dad did a little better on the questions since he had been taking Aricept since August. Of note, since I was the "child" who went to the appointments, I was also the person they added to the HIPPA release. All this time we had been concerned about Dad's driving. I rode with him to that appointment, and his driving was fine. CQ reported to the doctor that his driving was fine.

    On Christmas day, Mark had all of us to go to dinner at his house except Randy who was visiting with his wife's relatives. Mark actually made a snide comment to me about that choice. Dinner went well except that Dad did not recognize my mother and played it off as it was joke. As luck would have it, Dad, CQ and Sally left in the car ahead of us (my SO, my kids and Letty). We watched in horror as Dad ran two stop signs, kept weaving over the double yellow lines, rolled of the right side of the road and over corrected landing in the oncoming lane on a blind curve. I was texting Sally who was in the car and pretty shaken. We followed Dad an extra leg on his journey, skipping our normal turn off, and watched him exceed the speed limit and not use any turn signals. Happily, he made it home without accident.

    SO, Letty and I were horrified. I wrote another email to all the sibs explaining what I had witnessed and saying that I was planning to report Dad to DMV. Mark responded with "now is not the time for Dad to stop driving. I have been riding with him several times and his driving is not perfect but he should be allowed to continue." Mark also called CQ to tell her that I was contesting Dad's right to drive. I called and spoke to Dad's doctors who want him to be evaluated by an occupational therapist at the hospital.

    Letty and I ended up going over to speak to CQ and Dad. It was a horrible meeting. Dad denied everything down to the lack of turn signals. "They must be broken." The car is brand new. We tried to have a pleasant conversation, but considering that neither CQ nor Dad could admit that his driving was dangerous, it turned harsh quickly. I told Dad that either he would agree to be evaluated at the hospital or I would file a report with DMV.

    So in the aftermath, Mark is furious that I even spoke to Dad. I had no right. HE is the executor of Dad's will. He is IN CHARGE, and I am so mean to deny him the RIGHT to drive. He will be changing the HIPPA form posthaste. (I wonder if he is willing to take off of work to go the appointments with Dad.)

    Sally is more in the middle of "the road" on the issue. She knows Dad's driving was terrible, she wasn't going to confront him on it, but I handled it all wrong because Letty went with me. I shouldn't have "surprised them" with the discussion. Dad is now depressed. We need to speak to them kindly. I explained to her that we tried the nice route and were up against a solid brick wall of denial. I would not even have attempted to take this on except that innocent lives of strangers are at stake every time Dad gets behind the wheel. Sally and Mark seem to think that Dad's feelings should take precedence. I wonder if they would feel the same way if he had killed an entire family on Christmas day.

    And Cactus Queen? We asked that she take over the driving but she does not want to give up her chauffeur. She doesn't know how to drive the truck. Excuse, after excuse. We even presented them with a list of alternative modes of transport to which they said, "We aren't going to use a SERVICE!!"

    Sorry that I wrote a novel.
     
  2. wisernow

    wisernow wisernow

    You did the right thing. I would take the keys away from him until his evaluation, where I would advise the evaluator what had transpired with the driving. He could kill someone or himself or both. To not do this is morally wrong but I think if you know and allow it and something happens there could be legal issues as well. Keep strong. It sounds like you are the one who cares the most....hugs...none of this is fun. We had to do this with my Dad.
     
  3. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    First of all, have to say that I love your name "Cactus Queen". That made me laugh.

    I agree with you, your dad should not be driving. Who cares HOW you did it? Good grief!!! What is wrong with people.

    Let us know how this turns out.
    :youreright:
     
  4. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Wisernow, I would love to take the keys away from him. I think that is CQ's job and she is not on board with him not driving. If I were she, he would not be driving anywhere until he is evaluated. I considered taking the keys myself but decided that CQ would most likely call the police on me. They have 4 vehicles.

    RN, I dubbed her that years ago. She is about as cuddly as a cactus. She was being nice to me for the past few months as I was being helpful. She is back to hating me now.
     
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You took the correct action pigless, and displayed courage and love and respect, too, for your father, in facing facts and telling him the truth. That must have been so hard pigless, but it was the right thing. In his heart, your father does know. He doesn't want to lose his driving privileges, and of course he will fight for them. And it sounds like the siblings are more than willing to name you the designated bad guy so they do not have to take responsibility. CQ has to know about the driving issues and yet, she refuses to admit what is happening. Might she be afraid to bring it up with him, do you think?

    Cedar

    Pigless, it's nice to see you again.

    :O)
     
  6. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Yes, Cedar, I think CQ is afraid to confront the reality of my Dad's illness AND his failing driving ability. I found it odd that Dad recently bought a stick shift car which CQ readily admitted he could no longer drive properly. Dad recently traded it in on new SUV of some sort. SO pointed out to me that Dad has purchased 7 new vehicles in the past 6 years. I cannot believe CQ allows that sort of fiscally irresponsible behavior. She is the type of person who will drive across town to purchase a cheaper pint of blueberries.

    Good to "see" you, too, Cedar.
     
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is ridiculous. When any of us is a danger on the road, it is the time. I had to intervene to stop my mother's driving. It was not hard for me, because it was in the interest of everybody. The right thing usually is.

    I often think of the time I will be unable to drive. Why? Because my ability to drive has already taken such a hit. For ten years freeways have been hard and for seven I have not driven them at all. I have almost no night vision. This is a reality.

    With Uber it is a no-brainer. My father did not drive after his thirties. He lived in a big city. He did not need to drive.
    This has nothing to do with the will. Your father is very much alive, thank you.

    Is there somebody designated to make care decisions? Typically this is a document in itself. Even if you are not the person indicated to make care decisions, any person has the right, the obligation to act in the public good.

    I echo everybody else. You did the right thing. For everybody.

    I cannot get over the family members who are willing to sacrifice the welfare of everybody else, let alone your step mother's and father's welfare, and that of the entire family, to satisfy somebody's pride or whim. That is called entitlement. You are right.
     
  8. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Precisely the way I was I was viewing it. I felt like I had a moral obligation to do my best to get my Dad off the road. I find myself wondering how long his driving has been dangerous.

    Just before Christmas, Sally and I had a meeting with CQ to explain to her that Dad has Alzheimer's. We felt like it was necessary for her to hear the word so that she could better prepare for the future. At that meeting Sally told her mother that Mark had reported that Dad had been crossing the yellow lines. Now, Mark is reporting to the sibs that Dad's driving is fine as long as he isn't distracted. (I would not have let Dad drive with me in the car.) CQ is now denying that Dad even has Alzheimer's. I found it interesting that Dad no longer cooks, and that Mark has told him never to use the gas fireplace again. Clearly, Dad has deficits.

    I really don't care much anymore about the path CQ is on. She will quickly discover how hard it truly is. Someone will fall and get hurt in their house of many steps. I can do nothing about their living situation, but at least that does not affect the safety of other people.
     
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I so hear you. My dad is 92 and won't stop driving. It scares me because he is not that sharp anymore, as you can imagine. He even drives sometimes at night.

    Each year he has to retake his drivers test and each year he passes. Yet he can't remember what happens day to day. There is nothing we can do because he keeps passing his drivers test. He can afford a driver for himself but he wont do it.

    You are trying to do the right thing.
     
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You are the unsung hero of countless people, pigless. I truly mean that. I don't know how hard that conversation is, but I did see my dad get ready to have it with my adopted grandpa, and I know it tore him up something fierce. I do wonder if there is more to CQ's denial than just denial though.

    Living with someone with Alzheimer's is very hard. Even if you deny the deficits, you are living with a very large toddler. Remember the tantrums that your children threw as toddlers? How they threw things, hit? Now imagine someone the size of an adult doing this? There is NO reasoning with a toddler, no matter what size they are. MANY people just let them do what they want because it saves them from a tantrum.

    My adopted grandpa was kept at home by his wife for a very long time. I went over to visit one day and my adopted grandma did not have time to put makeup over the bruises, so I saw all of them - the new ones and the old ones layered on top of each other. Her husband would not lay a finger on her in violence in his right mind. I went home knowing something was so very wrong, that he was totally gone from us. I had still had some hope until that day.

    Shortly after that day, my adopted gpa could not be found. The keys to their main car were hidden, but he had managed to get his old rust bucket truck running and gone for a drive. He meant to go to the university 7 minutes away. He ended up 4 hours away. He was found when a nice man noticed him at a "gas station" trying to use a "pay phone". It was actually an antiques store and it was an old phone booth that was for sale and not hooked up, but the man was very sweet and figured out that Gpa needed help. This was the last time Gpa drove. The rust bucket was sold as junk and Gma had to keep her keys locked up.

    Could some of CQ's attitudes and her denial be because your dad has outbursts of rage when he cannot remember things? This is apparently part of the disease for some people. They get very frustrated and end up reacting with rage. Loved ones bear the brunt of the rage and some of them won't tell anyone because they feel shame that all is not perfect in their lives, or because their loved one is sick. Often they won't even tell the ones closest to them that this is happening.

    Even if it isn't that bad, your dad could be much harder to live with than you know, and that could be behind some of CQ's current reluctance to accept limits to what he could do.

    You still did the right thing, and I am proud of you. I know it was so hard. I think Mark is just a total jerk and needs to shut up. So what if he is the executor. That doesn't put him in charge of squat until AFTER someone is dead. Your dad is still ALIVE. There is a big difference there, if Mark can tell the difference. He needs to either start helping or get out of the way. Maybe he should lay down in a parking lot and let your dad try to drive around him, then parallel park next to him? If he can do that, then Mark can have a say. Sorry, That was WAY sarcastic and NOT meant to be serious. Sometimes these things just pop out.

    I hope that your family works its way through this with minimum pain for you and for everyone else. I also hope your father does not hurt anyone with his driving. Part of me thinks that anyone with a prescription for alzheimer's medication should need to take a driving test every so often, put that would put a big burden on the system. I just cannot think of another way through this to take some of the burden off of the family.
     
  11. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    :bigsmile:This made me LOL.

    susiestar, I have no doubt that CQ is terrified of my dad throwing a big ole tantrum. I think that it is better that they are furious with me. It gives CQ an out. She and I have had a talk about Dad getting violent. I can easily see her covering that up. The sibs and I have had some conversations about CQ's reasoning ability of late. She, too, has deteriorated and does not appear to be operating rationally.

    Two weeks have passed and I don't believe an evaluation has been scheduled. Reports return to me that I have "destroyed" my dad. The next step for me is to contact Sally to see if CQ has made an appointment for the evaluation. Sally wrote up an agreement that everyone but Mark thought was reasonable and supposedly CQ and Dad also agreed. If Dad isn't evaluated, then I have to file the DMV report.

    SWOT, that must be very scary that your dad keeps passing the test. At least he does pass and is tested yearly. This is such a emotionally loaded issue: taking away a grown adult's independence. They seem to forget that a car is a potential weapon.
     
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, it is. He does not drive well though. I won't drive with him.

    I feel your frustration.
     
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    pigless, I'm wondering whether the issue could be presented in a way that the father and CQ might feel they've taken responsibility. Whatever the real case, could the father be presented with the driving issue as his having correctly assessed his own situation? And could he be convinced that taking responsibility for refusing to get behind the wheel is a courageous and responsible decision? Taxi service cannot be more expensive than the costs of owning, maintaining, and insuring a car.

    My heart goes out especially to elderly men when these kinds of decisions come up. That first license, that first car ~ those things were rites of passage, when they were young men, and very strong, and life was theirs for the taking. It would suck to admit and take responsibility for, this opposite rite of passage.

    So hard for him, and for you too, pigless.

    Cedar