Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sit close to the fire

Last night, we had a nice fire on the beach. The nights have been cool so it felt good to sit near warmth after a long walk on the beach. We sat for a few hours until after dark, watching the flames flicker and lick at the driftwood. Too soon, it was time to leave.

This morning, we were up early to make our way back to the marina. I could have stayed out another two weeks. It is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world, and it was over too soon.

We stopped by to see the parents on the way home. My father-in-law was being ugly again. My wife was talking to him and he exploded, telling her to get out of the house, and saying that he didn't need anyone helping him. He said so many ugly things to her. They were screaming at each other.

Now, C. feels bad for losing it with her dad. I was angry but stayed out of it. I could not see how further angry words would help. What I want to do is give him a wide berth and let him think about what he has done. He is effectively driving everyone away. His wife is afraid of him. And now his daughter wants nothing to do with him.

I think it's best to wait, see what happens, and adopt an attitude of compassion. He is sick. Perhaps the doctor will prescribe something that will take the edge off his anger.  For now, I am not going to stand too close to his fire.

PS: Pop took the keys, drove off in the car, saying that he was going to "ride into the sunset".  We alerted the police because no one knew where he was.  He eventually came home around 6 PM.  The police went to the door, but he wouldn't let them in.  

He doesn't have dementia--his mind is sharp and his memory is excellent.  There is no cerebral event.  Nothing remarkable has happened except an explosion of anger.  He has a terrible disposition and has had one for most of his life according to his siblings and C.  I believe that things are not going the way that he likes because he is getting old. And he isn't getting old in a gentle way.  Perhaps this is simply too much to write about.  But it is what it is.  


  1. It's very possible that your FIL has had some cerebral vascular accident which has resulted in this anger. Also- have his meds been changed recently? That can do it too. Someone should discuss this with his doctor. Unless he's always been this way and in that case- yeah, stay away from the fire.
    Sorry you had to come home. I know I just had a vacation but I am longing for another get-away with my husband.

  2. The picture of your fire made me think.

    I like watching shows on The History Channel, Discovery, The Learning Channel, and those types of programming. Some of the ones I watch often deal with anthropology. I watch grown men and women dig in the dirt and brush away dirt and rock with small scrapers and paint brushes.

    They uncover bones and old campfires from thousands of years ago. There is often speculation about life and purpose of their findings and how life so long ago must have been.

    Imagine thousands of years from now a futuristic anthropologist scrapes around your fire pit and speculates all of these great ideas.

    So sad they would be to find that all this place was; a couple of people at peace and enjoying the serenity of the beach, ocean and each other.

  3. Dealing with someone like your FIL is exactly like dealing with a raging alcoholic. The tools of the program can be used in all our affairs. It sounds like dementia or possibly alcohol induced dementia. You can't control the fire starting, but you can keep from getting burned. Out west they dig rings around the fires to isolate them and keep them from spreading. Don't let the anger spread to you and your wife. Too often when I let addicts in my life occupy the real estate between my ears, I let it spill over to the innocent people in my life. That's on me, not on the alcoholic.

  4. I agree with Ms. Moon. Has he always been this way...there are so many things that can contribute to it. It is so scary to lose your independence and have to rely on others. Sometimes that results in anger. Does he have dementia? It doesn't feel good to him to act like that so with that in mind, maybe his dr can prescribe a little anti-aggitation something or other. Ativan/Lorazepam is my favorite for my clients....a teeny little bit soothes a lot of what ails them. I have a gentleman client right now who can scream and call me a stupid idiot and slap at me when I suggest a shower. I give him his tiny dose and wihtin 10 minutes he has calmed down and is joking and walking into the bathroom with me.
    I try to remember, they are at the end of their lives. They are often afraid. So much is now out of their control. They are ashamed to be incapable of so much that used to be so easy. Their bodily functions are for all to know about now, and sometimes even see!
    Ok, thats enough from me on that subject! lol
    Glad you had your time on the water. It sounds wonderful. I'm sorry it ended with a old folk blow up....but all will right itself eventually.

  5. I can only imagine it is hard to give up your freedoms as you get older. If we are lucky we will get a chance to find out.

    It seems that some people do better than others. Maybe some people are better at rolling with the punches. I guess I should start practicing now.

  6. def a tough place to be...and to try and play peacemaker is not a lot of fun either...hope that the FIL is soon willing to listen...

  7. My Dad lived across the street from me before he passed. His meds would effect him in such crazy ways. One night he left the house @ 3 AM and wondered the streets to our downtown area and kept warm in the doorways of businesses. I could still cry thinking of what he went through. We did find him and then he had to have 24/7 care. My RN sister is who he lived with and we all took nights, days taking care of him. He did scare a few of us, But, one thing we can all say is that we did our best to give him as much dignity as possible..understanding, compassion does not come easy at these times. So thankful for the program and the 12 steps that steer the way to taking care of ourselves so we can give to others and honor our parents..You shared a few blogs about your mom a few years back and I commented about my Dad at that time. Do you keep an archive? that far back? I love your passion for the program and for blogging. I come here to get a shot in the arm..good ol tonic for the soul! Thanks so much. Donna

  8. I'm so sorry to hear of all this, Syd. My mother's mother was quite venomous in her later years and, frankly, I have fear that my mom will be the same. My mom has a tendency to take a lot of her agitation out on me and I will dread having to be the whipping boy if that happens.

    I hope your wife isn't being too hard on herself. I think most people would have reacted in the same way.

  9. Sounds like you handled it really well. Wise. Prayin for your FIL, you, C and MIL. I have made so many mistakes in the past because I care about people and it hurts me to see them hurting themselves and to help FIX the situation. It never works. Letting him find his own way, being loving in your heart and actions is really all you can do. Take care! Jeanne

  10. It is sad that his wife is afraid of him. I hope the storm passes soon.

    Your time away sounds wonderfully quiet and peaceful.

  11. I'm so sorry you are going through this Syd.

  12. My brother in law is dying at the moment, from cancer of the mouth. His is a tragic tale, not least because he is bitter and angry and sees himself as a victim. In his mind he was delivered what he sees as the 'alcoholism gene'.

    He took after his father. He smoked as well, hence the cancer. Now when others would like to comfort him, like your father in law, he drives us away. It's sad to see.

    I think of it as his reluctance to come to terms with the fact of death, and perhaps in the case of your father in law, with aging and of life slowing down and closing up.

    I reckon as well that people often as they get older have a tendency to experience their worst and best traits magnified.

    If your father in law had a tendency in the past to be aggressive, it gets heightened in his old age. But that's just a theory. I'm sure everyone is different.

    Your post here is beautiful, Syd, especially the description of the comfort of that fire, however over heated your father-in-law's rage.

  13. That pushing others away and trying to provoke family members into arguments, running away, refusing to listen or respond -- it could be due to so many things. My heart goes out to C because the ugliness and irrationality is so hard in someone we love. My mother, an untreated suicidal alcoholic, was a nightmare towards the end of her life. Now I have so much sympathy for her but back then I was enraged and afraid of her as well as for her.

    I hope your FIL can be helped.

  14. Seems like you took care of yourself
    by keeping out of the firing line.
    Hp has a plan for your FIL...
    I grew up with huge blow outs between my parents I try also to detach from the antics from others most days.

  15. Maybe everything could start being just about the mother in law and he wouldn't feel like all eyes were focused on him right now. "Just calling to check on Mom" "Hi, just coming to see Mom" that sort of thing. My mother said once that when older people start getting ill that it feels like everyone is intruding on your space and life, even if its' with good intentions. She said a person coming in with a delicious pie in hand is still a person coming in that you have to interact with.
    I'm sorry you're going thru this sugar butt.

  16. I keep in mind my mother put up with all kinds of ugly outbursts from me in my youth. I know I yelled at her; I hurt her feelings. I was not to be reasoned with.

    Maybe at some point it will be my turn to be as forgiving of her as she was of me.

    It's hard however, and frequent breaks are necessary.

  17. I have heard it said that as we age, we become "more of what we were" during our lives. Sounds like that is more and more true with C's dad and for that I am sorry :(


  18. prayers my friend... lots and lots of prayers for healing and peace...

    toes in the sand by a fire... there went the peace, right?

    be well Syd!

  19. Syd, I'm so sorry to hear things have been rough. I can relate to keeping that wide berth to someone else's fire. Keeping you in my prayers.


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