Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Family, in a Turbulent Holding Pattern

That's what the last two days has been... and likely the next few days, may more, will be.

My brothers remains are in the custody of the Maricopa county coroners. They wont release their official finding of cause of death for 8-10 weeks. Because of workload backlog, they won't even do the post mortem exam until Thursday at the earliest.

Because it was an unattended death, with suspected criminal activity, they may hold his body for as long as 12 weeks or "until the investigation is concluded"; though they may release it next week after the preliminary findings are released... possibly as early as Friday, possibly not til next week sometime.

My mother...

My mother is very much not well; emotionally, physically, or mentally. She is already terminally ill, with significant brain damage, and this shock and stress has caused... well I suppose you can imagine what it has done. I honestly don't know if she can survive this.

Worse, she can't live on her own (and yes, to her, that isn't just "worse", it's the worst possible thing other than Rob dying). She needs to be in an assisted living facility, or to live with family; but she absolutely refuses either.

Frankly, she wants to go. That was her "plan", just wait it out until she died, eking by and just trying to be as little trouble to anyone as possible.

Those are her words by the way.

Now, she keeps saying.. really crying over and over... "why did he have to go now. Why couldn't he have just waited til I was gone, it won't be long".

Yeah... her mental and emotional state is not good, as I said.

She's also refusing to see me. She says if I go down there, she won't open the door for me. She doesn't want to "burden me'. She doesn't want me to see her "like that"... all the same things she's said before when it looked like she was ready to go.

I honestly don't know if her plan is to go on living... or just to see Rob cremated then let herself die. I suspect it's the latter.

Worse, now my grandmother is involved.

My grandmother is, as I believe I have mentioned here before, a very hard person. She can be mean, cruel, vindictive... She's not a BAD person, she generally does the right thing legally, morally, ethically etc... and she loves me... the whole family... very much... but she is not in any way nice, kind, gentle... She's just hard... and at times she can be cruel, and mean, and nasty.

The funny thing, is how my family are going to react to me saying that in public. They all know it's true, but some of them will be angry at me for saying it.

Just like they're still in denial that my grandfather, for as much as he loved us, and we all loved him (and still love him. I still think of him every single goddamned day of my life), and as much as he did for us, and as much as he is responsible for everything that I am...  He was also a violent, controlling, at times emotionally and physically abusive, high functioning alcoholic.

Some of then have come to accept that we had... in some ways still have...a seriously screwed up, seriously abusive family... and some of them have not.

I honestly don't know what the world looks like in their memories... but it's not the world we actually grew up in; and to them, my saying otherwise is a betrayal of the family.

But... that's a whole 'nother story...

My grandmother and I were talking yesterday, about what to do about Robs remains, and about my mother. Rob wanted to be cremated, but he wanted it to be done back in Boston, where his real friends and his family could have a wake for him.

Frankly, he hated Arizona, and would not want his ashes resting there. He also didn't want a formal memorial service, just a wake. He liked the idea of all his friends and family getting drunk for him; and, ever since my grandfathers funeral in '96, he absolutely LOATHED funerals... as far as I know, he never went to another one.

There are several problems with this; first being, neither I nor my mother, have any damn money right now.

I literally just paid (as in Friday with my most recent paycheck) all my Christmas bills, paid for boomershoot and a bunch of the gear I'm going to need for it (and yes, I AM still going. I've spent five years waiting and trying to save for this event, I'm NOT missing it again), and five figures worth of medical bills, legal bills, and fees related to our custody case (which I had to take a loan out against my 401k to pay for).

Frankly, if the memorial service is before my next pay check, I'm going to have to sell some guns or something just to pay for the airline tickets.

Oh and you know how the airlines used to give big discounts on bereavment fares? not anymore. The best case is $450 a seat each for Mel and I (and no, I'm not going without her).

So, my grandmother is stepping in, and she's going to pay to transport Robs remains to Boston, and have him cremated.

There are two major problems with this.

First, my mother is in such frail health, and with her specific condition (frequent seizures, TIA, and multiple unrepaired aneurysms in her brain) she may not survive an airline flight. Plus she's absolutely terrified of flying, and needs to be tranquilized to fly (that at least isn't a problem, with the number and dosage of medications she's on). Even with doctors clearance, which it is seriously doubtful she'd get, any airline would be well within its rights to not let her get on an airplane.

It's a very LONG three days car ride from Arizona to Boston, and that might be even worse for her health.

Ok... That's a major practical issue... Maybe we can cremate him in Arizona then if she can't fly or drive. We can still have a memorial in Boston.

Which brings up issue number two.. Why I had a huge fight with my grandmother this afternoon.

My father.

My grandmother LOATHES my father. This hatred is not without some justification; as he was both violently abusive to my mother (she was also violently abusive to him. They had a seriously unhealthy and mutually abusive relationship, complicated by both of their drug use, her mental illness, his PTSD from 'nam, and both of their histories of violently abusive families), and completely neglectful and absent as a father to me and my brother (though to be fair, he was in prison most of our childhood and adolescence; and when he went to prison, my grandfather threatened him, credibly, with death should he ever attempt to contact us. He didn't, until after my grandfather died).

However, in my grandmothers case, her hatred it utterly consuming, and completely unthinking. There is literally no reasoning with her about him.

This is so much the case, that my grandmother will not acknowledge that my last name is Byrne. She won't send me any mail under that name (she sends it under my mothers maiden name, which she considers my "real" name), she won't open mail received from me with that name. If she calls me and I answer with that name (as I generally do, by reflex trained into me by the Air Force), she won't talk to me (or worse, she'll harangue me about it).

Now, my father is utterly devastated by my brother dying. He and I have spent hours over the phone, basically crying with each other, over the past two days.

One of the great regrets of my fathers life, is not having been a father to us growing up. When he was able to, he attempted to reconnect with us.

In my case, we were able to reconcile; and for about 13 years now, we have had a pretty good relationship.

With my brother... for a while they seemed as if they were going to make it up with each other. Rob even worked for him for a while, laying stone. Then Robs anger and hate, and demons took over; and one day he just walked off the job site, and they haven't spoken since. That was about 10 years ago, and it still pains my father deeply to this day.

My dad always hoped that one day, Rob would get help with his issues, and deal with his anger; and maybe they could reconcile. Sunday, that hope died with my brother... and I really think it killed something inside my dad.

Now... my grandmother...

Yesterday, we were talking about arrangements. About how we were going to need to do something about my mother, about how she was not listening to me, and behaving irrationally towards me about the issue (nothing new there), about how we may have to do things in Arizona but everyone would prefer it if we could do things in Boston...

And then I said to her "Nana, I need to talk to you about something, and it's going to upset you. My father, of course, wants to be at the memorial".

She flipped out, as I knew she would.

I stayed calm, and just kept repeating to her "but Rob was his son" and "it's his son"; each repetition of which would just make her scream "no he isn't his father. no, he was NOT his son. In order to be a father, you have to BE a father" or some other such similar rantings...

Which, again, to be fair, is a valid position to an extent; but honestly, the mans son just died and this is is the position you choose to take? Now?

She was literally screaming at me over the phone, at the top of her lungs... and you have to understand my grandmother may only be 5 foot 3 and a hundred pounds soaking wet, but she can SCREAM.

I even tried to tell her I had talked to my mother about it and she agreed that my father had every right to be there, and to grieve with us (my mothers words were "nothing else matters, that's his blood. He grieves as I grieve... tell him that").

I was keeping calm right up until she said to me "and you... you shouldn't have even told him. I don't know why you told him, he doesn't deserve to know"...

At which point I told my 76 year old grandmother to go fuck herself.