05 May 2007


Two summers ago I first found out my parents were having problems. My first hint was walking into the middle of a one-sided argument. I used to walk along the canal near my parent's house. It was a good, straight walk, and sometimes there would be ducks on the canal. I stopped inside my parent's house to fill a water bottle. A lot of the events there are a blur, but I distinctly remember my dad telling my mom, "You want all the f***ing money." Bear in mind that I'd never heard my dad use that kind of language, ever. I sort of froze up, filled my water bottle on auto pilot, drove down the hill to the canal still on auto-pilot, and started walking.

When I got to the canal, I climbed out onto a platform with a large, locked wheel on it, presumably for shutting off and turning on some water source to the canal. I just sat there, not thinking, for a long time. I can't remember if I actually walked further down the canal that day or not. I think I did. I think I walked down to where it passes the Post Office before coming back. When I got back to my car, it dawned on me that I'd left my mom alone with a madman. Very quietly, I checked to make sure that I still had my little pocket knife with me. Tiny blade, but very sharp. Dreading what I might find, I drove back up to my parent's house...to find that my mom's car was gone. I was relieved that I did not need to go back inside. I was more relieved that I didn't have to find out if I was actually capable of using that little knife as a weapon.

I haven't walked on the canal since.

My second hint that there was a problem was finding out that my dad had started sleeping in the guest room in the basement. Rarely used as a guest room, it had always been his own space in the house. Tonight, I found out the reason for his move, if paranoid delusions count as a reason. I've known for a while that he thinks my mom is part of some plot to destroy him (along with his mother, sisters, brothers, and probably everyone else he's ever met). Apparently he actually told my mom that this morning, and explained that she'd been trying to destroy him while he was sleeping. Or that she had destroyed him. Something like that.

And so now I have to wonder, not for the first time, what are the criteria for getting someone committed? With his eyesight as bad as it is, he's already something of a danger to himself. He can't take care of himself, since he can't see well enough to drive. He relies on me or Mom to get his groceries, pay his bills, etc. And if he keeps this up, eventually Mom's going to give up on him, and I can't say as I blame her.

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