This is part three of Notes from the Problem ChildRead part one and part two.

I’m crying my eyes out.

Driving and tears running down my face, trying to focus on the road  The hospital where dad had been taken the night before was still a good six hours away.  I found I had to pull over at every available rest stop just to get out, walk around, recompose myself and bury my head in more Kleenex.

I’d gotten the call from mom the night before.  She never calls, especially late at night, so I knew something was wrong.  She said dad had been taken to the hospital.  He’d claimed he’d fallen the night before in the middle of the night and cried out in vain for help.  She didn’t hear anything and there was no clear evidence that a fall had taken place.  Then again, their house was cluttered with stuff.

I’d predicted a fall would happen so that part didn’t surprise me.

But it would be near impossible to tell if something was out of place, there was so much stuff lying around anyway.  Out of place was the norm in their house.  That afternoon (the day after his supposed fall), he’d been screaming at mom, saying all sorts of things completely out of character.  Finally she called the ambulance and accompanied him as he went screaming and fussing all the way to the hospital.  She’d been there all day while he got admitted.  Upon return, she found that he’d left little cryptic notes lying around the house.  Mom was completely confused.  “You better come, Artie. Something’s really wrong with Jack. It’s something neurological.  He says he fell.  Maybe he suffered a stroke?”

She told me the mean, awful things he’d said to her.  She’d also found these notes.  She was upset.  I said; “Mom, he’s not in his right mind.  Don’t believe what he was saying.  He doesn’t mean it.  You know that, right?”  She didn’t acknowledge.  “I’ll be there tomorrow,” I said.  “As soon as I can.”  “Artie, prepare yourself,” she warned.

“I’m not sure you’re going to recognize your father.”

I thought I’d gotten all my tears out that night, the night before my 6 hour drive to Chicago.  I’d had some pretty good, body-shaking sobs.  I’d prayed.  I’m not a religious person at all.  I was raised in a Baptist church and was baptized when I was 12.  It was my choice but I really didn’t do it because I believed.  I did it because it pleased my parents.

But I also feel like, I don’t know what exists and what doesn’t.

If you believe some higher power exists and that works for you, then it does!  I knew that baptism wouldn’t really compromise me in any way and, who knew, if I ever needed to call on a higher power, I always had that card.  Hypocritical?  Perhaps, to some.  I’m not a true believer but I pray every time I’m about to take off in a plane.  I pray before something serious, like surgery.

At that moment, I needed to believe, so I played my card.

I prayed for dad.  I prayed that he wasn’t in pain and that he wouldn’t be scared.  I prayed for the doctors to be able to treat him.  I prayed for strength for mom and for all of us.  I asked that I could have at least one more connection with him, that I could tell him I love him and that he’d know that love was coming from me.

To be continued…

Written by Arthur Roeser
Arthur retells his story caring for his mother and father, covering many common issues caregivers face through first person narration, such as: hoarding, sibling conflict, parents unwilling to be helped, finances, communication with medical professionals, guilt, anxiety, stress and shame.

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