One Year Ago

For a moment, I forgot I was grown up.

Life is a timeline of events that affects us in ways too small to notice in the moment, but in a retrospective, taken all into account, undeniably establishes who and what we become.

One day you’re riding your “Space Invaders” Huffy bicycle, wearing red-ringed tube socks. The next day, you’re mourning the anniversary of the death of a loved one.

Losing a parent is perhaps one of the last chapters in that timeline, at least in the normal current of events. Like everything else, no one is the first to go through it, but it feels like it is to each of us when it happens.

My father died one year ago today. He was my “adopted” dad, but he never said that. I was always his son. He was not perfect, and I’ve found out how even less perfect he was since he passed.

But he always was, and always “shall be” (to steal a line from Spock), my Dad.

We miss you Paw-Paw.

Dad Bowling for blog


Robert Raymond Souther, 83, of Mills River, passed away Wednesday, October 17, 2018. A native of Henderson County, he was the son of DeWitt Talmadge and Reba Case Souther. He was preceded in death by his brothers John, Thomas (Tommy), and Floyd Souther, and two sisters, Florence Clay and Louise Houk.

Robert attended Mills River High School and in 1953, his Dairy Team scored 1100/1200 in the state dairy show, a record that may stand to this day. No is quite sure what they did with the $400 they won, but they didn’t use it to go to “Nationals” in Iowa–we do know that :).

After high school, Robert spent 8 years in the U.S. Air Force, but got out early to care for his ailing father, who passed soon after.

Professionally, Robert worked as an instrument and electrical engineer most of his life. He never met a problem he couldn’t (at least attempt to) solve, nor something broken that couldn’t (at least attempt to) fix. Robert was a quiet man, but possessing a great sense of humor. Few who met him didn’t immediately like him, and when together with his siblings, would happily recount stories of “four of us on a bicycle,” “wildcats following us through the woods at night,” and other childhood tales.

He is survived by his two sons, Robert J. Souther, of Franklin, NC, and Christopher D. Souther and wife, Megan Souther of Roswell Georgia; his brother Frank Souther and wife L.E. of Hemet, CA.; three grandchildren: Ethan, Aiden and Marissa; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews.

He is remembered fondly by his first wife, Carolyn Souther, also of Henderson Cty.

Robert asked that there be no funeral or memorial service. Instead, the family asks everyone to take a moment and think of the loved ones in your lives, give them a call and tell them you love them.


 

Making Peace and “Accepting”

About two months ago, I got a panicked call from my father’s partner in Florida. A cough he’d had for a few months finally forced him to go to the doctor, where tests revealed a large mass in his lung. Cancer. He’ll be 83 this August.

Back at home in North Carolina, further testing put him at a borderline Stage 3A/3B, which means it’s treatable, but just barely, and the long term prognosis is generally not good at all.

A month and a half into his treatments, they had to go in and remove fluid from his lungs and this revealed pleural effusion, which is untreatable. They’ve given him 4-6 months.

It’s a hard thing going from an expectation of having a couple of years, to just a few months. No one is prepared for it. Not him, not me. We’re all sort of lost right now.

Being 3.5 hours away makes it difficult to say the least. You want to be with them, even if you know it’s going to be awkward as hell just sitting around staring at each other. He’s very weak already, so “doing” anything is mostly out of the question. And you want to constantly check on them, but when you hardly ever talked to begin with, calling now is just awkward.

His partner is old herself and frankly, not coping well mentally. Over the past 10 years they’ve been together, her “northern ways” have alienated pretty much everyone in the family. I have done my best to ignore her antics, and the fact that, because he’s taking care of her every need, he’s only come to my house once. Once–in the last 10 years.

Since his terminal diagnosis, I’ve been up to her house a couple of times. Neither times has been pleasant, as I’d already evoked, “You’re not his wife” on the phone once in frustration, and been subsequently hung up on.

Despite being his only real kin from a “nuclear family” standpoint, she has insisted on being his sole caregiver, even (in my opinion) having the audacity to insist she be listed first on his Advanced Directive.

But, in the spirit of “it’s about him” and “not about us,” I let that too pass.

Almost…

I was visiting my father a couple of months ago, going over his “vast holdings” (and I say that sarcastically). It came up that, he owned a pad in an RV park in Florida. It is right next to the one she owns, upon which her $250K RV sits all year. During the conversation, it came up that my father was going to sell her his lot. Great. I had no issue with that. And then she said, “Well, I think he should give it to me. All these years I’ve paid for the house he lives in, and the vacations and I’ve never asked him for nothing.”

I probably should have taken a breath before speaking, but I’m me, so instead, I said, “Wait, you got upset at me for saying you weren’t his wife, but now you want to treat him like someone you just met on the street and say that he owes you for him living with you and literally driving you everywhere, and taking care of everything for the last ten years? If you were married, you wouldn’t be saying this. So which is it?”

I left; time passed.

I got a call from the manager at the RV park, saying he’d gotten an email from my father’s “girlfriend” that said he was “giving” her the property. I immediately called my father who said that was untrue.

Now, to clarify, at one point, she was worth several million dollars. I doubt even she knows her net worth at this point, but it’s at least north of $2M and probably more. So why she was insisting my father give her anything, riled me.

At any rate, I went back up again a few weeks back because, SURPRISE!, my father didn’t have a Will. He apparently thought that he could just tell someone what he wanted and it would magically happen. And despite repeated attempts, he would NOT do anything legally himself. So, I went up with a prepared Will, and had a Notary coming by the house. It was all planned out.

It took about 30 minutes for the fit to hit the shan. Long story short, I completely shattered “her” world and told her what I thought of her.

I’ve since been asked not to come back, as has the only other member of the family who might help them.

I’m not looking for sympathy here. In fact, if there’s anything I hope people take from stories like this, it is this: Don’t wait. Don’t wait until you are sick to do all the legal things you should do to make your passing easy on those who love you. If you wait, anything they do to help you prepare, is going to be viewed by you (the dying one) as materialistic and greedy. As a parent, you should already have your loved ones’ best at heart. They shouldn’t have to make sure you have a Will, and make sure you have an Advanced Directive. Be an adult and do these things BEFORE you’re too sick to care.

I won’t be going back to her house unless it’s to clean out his things, either while he’s still alive, or after he passes. And if it’s the latter, I suspect I’ll have to get the Sheriff involved, but that’s fine.

When your parents get old (and you do too) you realize they are just people. They aren’t perfect; they have problems just like everyone else. And they have made, and will continue to make, bad decisions. Some, more damaging than others.

I love my dad. Really, he’s the only “original family” I have left that I care about. Nothing that happens between now and 4-6 months from now will change that. It’s just a shame we can’t spend time together.

 

 

 

 

My How Times Have Changed

Having recently been forced to upgrade my old computer, I’ve started realizing just how much things have changed in the last decade. And I pick the 10-year point because it’s when my life changed most significantly, and because it’s just a nice round number. But watching change happen around you is a bit like watching your hairline disappear—it happens so slowly that you don’t really notice it til someone points it out to you and then WHAM! You can’t NOT notice it anymore.

For instance, ten years ago:

  • We were all using dial-up
  • A 2.6Ghz Intel Pentium chip, with Hyperthreading, was just da-bomb! Now, it sucks
  • My dogs were puppies
  • I thought making the money that I do now would be a blessing
  • Christmas was still about “me”!
  • Stamps were 33 cents each
  • The DOW closed above 11,000 for the first time (aaah, the good old days. Thank you Mr. Reagan!)
  • IE version 5.0 was released (we’re now on what…8.x?)
  • MySpace was introduced and pervs around the world could now show off their freakiness!
  • We were all walking around quoting “Austin Powers”

But there have been more personal changes of course. For instance, in the last ten years, I’ve gone back to school and finished my degree. I’ve had three children and I’ve now been married for ten years. Ten years…wow!

Funny thing is, my shell has changed, but my mind has not. I’m still the same young-at-heart, testosterone-laden Male I was then. Only now it’s tempered with respect for my wife.

Now rather than figuring out when I want to start having kids, I’m trying to figure out how to stop having them and still have fun.

Instead of going for a run at 9 p.m. cuz I’m bored and have too much energy, I veg out in front of the TV while lying in bed because I know I’ll be up at the butt-crack of dawn getting juice and blankets for the boys, in between potty training and bottle feedings.

This is how old age gets you. It doesn’t hit you all at once with a slip in the bathtub and a hip fracture. No, it sneaks up on you little by little until the next thing you know, you’re having thyroid tests run and trying to figure out when Taylor Swift stopped looking like a child and became a hottie you’d hit given half a chance! (When you were SINGLE. When you were single…)

Oh snap! Maybe my mind HAS changed.

Crap!

Do you see that you’re wasting my time?

image I sit at a computer all day and work. That’s my job. Sometimes I think that maybe it would be fun to be outdoors working, but then I have to dig a 10-ft drain line in the back of my house and I realize what a crap-job that must be, day in and day out, and then I’m grateful that I can work on my butt, in climate control 365 a year.

Lately, I’ve been getting little headaches while working. This happened a few years ago, which prompted my first set of eyeglasses. The prescription is really minor, but it helps immensely. Thinking perhaps it was time for a checkup, I made an appointment with my eye doctor.

I walked in one afternoon last week and strolled up to the front desk. There was a lady sitting there who gave me the vaguest of glances and went back to what she was doing. No stranger to this “appointment” process, I signed my name and went and sat down, assuming that someone would call me to come fill out some paperwork.

There were a few other people waiting and in a few minutes a very young girl came out to wait with them, and then was taken back again to have her eyes dilated.

Still I waited.

After about ten minutes, a lady walked in the front door. I knew her from a place called “Massage Envy.” Last Christmas (2007), CareerMom signed me up for a “Massage a Month” with this place. What you do is, join their little service thingy, and for $50 per month, you get a massage. It’s still expensive, but when you consider a massage elsewhere runs $65-$80, it’s not so bad. Anyway, I had several problems with appointments there; the last being that I had walked in–much as I’d done here at the eye doctor–signed in and then sat there for 25 minutes before finally asking, “Hey, where’s my masseuse?” Turns out, they’d just forgotten I was sitting there, which was funny considering they could all see me. They tried to get me to come on back, but I made up some story about how they’d completely fu-barred up my schedule and how I didn’t have time now! It was the point of the thing by then see.

So yeah, I showed my ass a little that day.

Anyway, the lady working the massage place that day, was the one who had just walked into my eye doctor’s office. She signed in and within minutes was taken back, helped, and sent on her way.

After about 25 minutes, I finally got up and walked to the front desk and asked, “How far behind are we running today?” This brought a questioning glance from another lady who asked if I’d signed in. I picked up the sign in sheet, pointed to my name, which by the way, was the last one on the sheet, and said, “Yep. Says so right here.”

Turns out, they too had “forgotten” I was sitting there.

So yeah, I showed my ass a little that day…too.

But I tell ya what, the next time this lady from the massage place shows up ANYWHERE else that I’m at, I’m leaving immediately because her being there at the same time can only mean that I’m about waste at least 20 minutes of my life.

Should I be more assertive? HA HA HA HA!

By the way, I did need new glasses. So, here’s to aging!