What have I gotten myself into?
I lie awake in my old room, happy and scared too. I get comfortable and before I know it I am dead to the world until about 4:30 a.m. when I hear my dad banging around in the bathroom near my bedroom. What in the world? I get up at 6:30 and help make the protein drink, one scoop protein power, two ice cubes, and a handful of frozen blueberries; it has to be measured exactly and perfectly. Mom hovers over to teach and watch. Dad is hovering too.
“Push the correct button on the blender. Not too long.”
Come on, guys, I think. Wait, I have to have coffee please.
We sit at the dining room table and plan the day. More stress, more bickering. Wow, already? Slow down, back up, guys, I think, but don’t dare speak. What is the big deal? Well, I get caught up in the big deal; it’s my dad’s life. And he refuses to die, and refuses chemotherapy, which makes him deathly sick.
I chirp up, “I want to continue my yoga classes and find a church to continue my spiritual classes. I do have homework to finish from here so I can graduate with the class.” But I feel like I am not being heard. And the fact of anything I might want not mattering to them is evident to me. Oops, What have I signed up for, and it’s not even 8 a.m?.
“Beth Anne, I need my juice in an hour, meet me on the back patio.”
“OK, Dad, let me get dressed.” I shower and prepare for my day as best I can. I take this time to do some homework and pray for my mom and dad and that I can truly be of some assistance. I decide to text Jack. “Help, where are you?” No response, that’s not like him.
I meet Dad on the wood deck patio he and a friend built. He has everything he needs out there to make the juice. A small refrigerator some counter space, and a sink. He has a new patio table with comfy swivel chairs covered with umbrellas, and then there is his spa. I notice the oxygen tanks and weights. Actually, I like it and feel overwhelmed at being needed, as if a new true connection that had not been there since early childhood has returned for me. I juice as my dad supervises. The carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, garlic, and peppers must be done a certain way, all the way up to thirty-two ounces, not a drop more or less. Keep going, I tell myself, there is so much more to do. No rest for the weary. I clean up the juicing. It’s now time for oxygen and weights. Cancer, I learn, cannot live in an oxygen-rich environment, so Dad spends fifteen minutes a day hooked up to oxygen, lifting weights and pedaling a foot pedal.
Jack, help! I’m coming home. I miss you. Please rescue me! I think. Listen to me! I say to myself, but actually there is no time to even talk to Jack. Our day is jam-packed. Perhaps he’s wondering if I’ve fallen off the planet, as I have not responded to his three or four texts. Finally, I text back, “I’m busy.” Jack is not a patient man when it comes to his woman. Not at all.He calls again. However my dad is showing me how to make coffee for his enema, and how to prepare his spa with ozone.
Lunchtime already, I’m in the kitchen again. My mom’s kitchen, she is going to show me how to use her Cuisinart, one of her prized possessions. This mixture has to be exact too, fresh organic spinach, onions, avocado, peppers, and garlic cut just the right way, splash of olive oil and spices like so. Turn it on, and swish—green puree salad. It has to be pureed since my dad’s last tongue cancer; it is hard for him to swallow. Mom makes a sandwich for herself. I make a salad. She is angry, walled in. My dad only wants to talk about his protocol and make adjustments and changes to it. He wants to theorize, discuss, weigh the options, the good, the bad, the ins and the outs. He is an avid reader and researcher, and at this point, and open to anything natural. Mom leans more toward traditional medicine. And every change or different theory he comes up with is more than she wants to take in for one day. She considers most of them snake oil salesman.
I am realizing how shut down Mom is, but also how very strong. After lunch we make a grocery list and off to the store I go. When I am alone, I am aware my adrenaline is at high speed. I don’t usually function that way and try to remain calm slow and steady, especially since my foot injury from a car accident several years back. Relax, breathe, I tell myself and I call Jack for an update. Already he seems distant. I am consumed and have so much to talk about. I don’t think I even listened to what he was up to. “I got to go, I got to do.”
Putting away the groceries, I feel like I am helping, accomplishing something. Then I hear Dad call, “Beth Anne, time for another juice.” I feel critiqued: “Do it this way, don’t cut yourself and watch every ounce, can’t go over one ounce,” he snaps at me. God forbid if it’s half an ounce under. I can’t breathe or speak up. I clean up and need a break. I am used to my own me time.
I go to the computer to look for a yoga class. Actually I had already looked up some information before I left but had not made a decision which one I wanted. I make some calls and decide to try several classes. I feel good; starting tomorrow I’ll do something for myself.
“Dad,” I say, “I have homework to do. I need some time.”
“OK, but I need you to get on the computer for me and find some raw goat’s milk, my supplier is just temporary, he has other customers and I am running out. That takes priority over any silly yoga class!”
He’s so urgent; everything is so urgent. “OK, Dad.”
I close my door for some much-needed solitude. It feels like ten minutes before I hear his knock.
“Don’t forget I need goat’s milk, and I have some CDs I want you to listen to on cancer and nutritional healing. I want you to listen; do you hear me?” It is a command more than a request.
“Yes, Dad, I do. I will but I have to finish my homework.”
“How long will that take you?”
I tell him I just need an hour or so.
“What is that music I hear?”
“It’s just some relaxing music I have.”
“OK But I need my goat’s milk, I’m running out.”
OK, gosh, I think. I text Jack, “I’m on a mission for raw goat’s milk.” I chalk it up to my dad’s extremism. When he does something, more is better, so his protocol is the same. More is always better. He identifies himself as a mover and a shaker. If the music doesn't move you, my dad's directions will.
OK, OK, I think, my homework is keeping me sane. I’m remembering my newfound friends from class and how lovingly they sent me off from last week’s class. I soared spiritually in the class especially during the interactive meditations. The peace and tranquility I felt was extraordinary. Reviewing the words I wrote about God’s presence engulfing me 24/7. Aahh!! I’ll never stop; that is one of my passions.
Reverend Susan blessed me and I gained a much-needed perspective from my all too short time under her care. In fact I felt it prepared me for this step. I’m not sure I would have taken it without the class, and believing in all possibilities and probabilities. I enjoyed the philosophy of Ernest Holmes. I excitedly prepared my prayers that are called “treatments.”
I even had a practitioner, that is a person who has been trained in healing prayers, come to visit me several times, to help Jack and me. It was mostly for me as our relationship had been turbulent in the past. I had a tendency to leave, he had a tendency to play, he was an open and free spirit with lots of women friends, very social, and that made my insecurities flare.
I knew I had issues, we both did, and I wanted to work on mine. I wanted to make sense out of my life. I found a counselor who encouraged me to find a church, one that had what I felt I needed, and she practically begged me to attend support groups for women. I had gone before but found it difficult. I did not want to be in support groups forever. I did not want to be labeled as one of those women. Jack simply did not understand any of it, church or support groups; he was dumbfounded and aghast.
But I loved being in an unconditionally loving atmosphere. I craved it. What I didn’t realize and was soon to find out was that I needed to love and accept myself instead of seeking all the love and acceptance outside of me. More inside work needed to be done. Gosh, I thought I had done most of that before. I had had quite a bit of counseling before, but looking back it was mostly crisis counseling after my first divorce and shortly after my second divorce. I already had been through so much devastation, I thought I was done with that healed. After all, I knew about the Law of Attraction, The Secret, Louise Hay, and Wayne Dyer. I felt after listening to hours of CDs that I had changed my bottom line from hating myself to loving myself.
My affirmations seemed to work, I had retired and had money and an exciting love life. I had traveled some after retirement with a good friend but that relationship failed also. In fact lots of my relationships were falling apart due to my current relationship with Jack.
I suddenly realize I am supposed to be doing my homework, not reminiscing about my life’s failures and successes, twists and turns. I have an incredible way of repressing all this stuff.
Knock, knock—“Yes, Dad.”
“I need my protein drink,” he says gruffly.
“Sure, Dad,” I fake-smile at him. I make the drink and check on Mom. She’s watching Vanna White on TV. Back to my homework. There are several more texts from Jack. Day one was almost over and I am realizing how grueling this task might be for me emotionally. I try to tell Jack, but he just doesn’t get it. How can anyone understand, I don’t even understand all my emotions! I wonder, pray, and worry. Enough homework I’m done. Sleep comes fast and hard with confusing dreams where I am shrinking into corners at a highly populated event.