“Speak again oh toothless one; those are words of wisdom.”
In the past two years since I took over Dad’s care, there have been some shitty experiences. The familial conflict has left bruises on all of us, but it hasn’t all been about family.
Dad did things differently when he was a successful masonry contractor and king of our 3.5 acres. He was a proud provider to everyone he knew, the kind of man that bailed you out of jail and gave you money if you asked for it, a mafia boss that never called in his favours.
My first year dealing with his accountant involved resolving a long-standing bad debt on the books. When asked about the $10,000 loan to a name I’d never heard of, Dad had a hard time remembering. Turns out, a man with a terminal disease asked Dad for the money so he could visit his homeland one last time before he died. The loan was never repaid.
“Who are you?”
I ask, arriving home to a stranger on the roof.
“I’m Evandro from Venezuela.”
says the door-to-door salesman cleaning the gutters.
“Please stop what you’re doing and come down.”
I pay him fifty for the half hour instead of the eight hundred we can’t afford.
I post no soliciting signs on the front and back door.
our neighbour says,
“I hadn’t realized your father wasn’t in charge anymore.”
With a bottle of homemade wine, he asked Dad if he could chop down some branches in our forest. Two trees had fallen before news hit my cell phone and my cell phone hit the neighbour’s. He was even taking the fallen wood for his own supply.
With big, capital sticker letters, I write ‘Katie, Big Boss’ next to my cell phone number on the kitchen wall.
“There’s no meeting. I’m busy for weeks,”
says my deceased Aunt’s crook lawyer, denying an overheard phone call regarding the inheritance she left Dad.
“The cheque will be sent to your home address,”
he reassures me when I tell him I am Power of Attorney.
Dad stands at my bedroom door barefoot and toothless for his third time during my fury.
“You’ve got to understand Katie. I’ve been in control of my money since I was a kid. This is hard for me.”
“I have dementia. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.”
“You betrayed me Dad. You went behind my back.”
No, he didn’t. The lawyer and another man took advantage of him. I sensed it in my gut but they picked him up when I wasn’t home, took him to a secret lunch meeting and made him feel like a big man signing over $20,000 to a man that called himself friend.
Shuffling towards the kitchen, he makes noises so I can hear him.
“I wanted to let you know I was coming in case you were scheming.”
Unsuccessfully scheming to hire a lawyer to sue a lawyer for a $20,000 theft.
Dad can’t sleep without reconciliation. Still barefoot and toothless in white long Johns.
“I love you,”
he says to my face, kisses me on the lips and wraps his arms around me.
Another day, another dollar, the phone rings.
“I just need six to get these debt guys off my back.”
Says Jim, another friend.
“I’m afraid my father is no longer able to financially assist others.”
Jim makes dying sounds and Dad sits quietly in his chair.
This shit had better come with some wisdom.