Legal Quandary

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Does This Make Me a Bad Person?

I am in the process of making reservations to travel to a midwest city over Spring Break to help my dad pack up his apartment there and move his stuff to a different midwest city. He's been living in Midwest City A for the last 4-5 years because of a job. Last May, he was diagnosed with a particularly nasty type of cancer. He's since retired, but hasn't moved his stuff. Because he's undergoing chemo, he's pretty weak and can't pack up by himself. City B is where he's originally from, and where he plans to live. Keep in mind that my mother is still in Europe, taking care of my Oma. And my dad is currently there visiting her because my mom just had hip replacement surgery. Which is frightening to think that they're both "taking care of" each other. And also begs the question as to why he's moving back to City B - but the only answer I can think of for that is that nothing is easy in my family.

I talked to my dad back in November about coming out during Spring Break for the purpose of packing up and cleaning his apartment and gave him the dates. He booked his travel to Europe so that he returns the day of my last final. Well before he left for Europe, I looked up the phone numbers of movers, emailed them to him, and told him to call and set up an appointment to get weight estimates and quotes before he left. Didn't happen.

Finally, last week, I offered to make the phone calls for him because I have so much spare time in my schedule - and because I thought it might be fun and entertaining to arrange another person's move from 6 states away. No - I really did it for purely selfish reasons - the whole air travel arrangements thing. When I called the movers, what did I find out? That you pretty much can't get a weight estimate and move in the same week because they have to schedule things based on weight. Which is pretty much what I figured when I asked him to call before he left. This morning I called him and explained the matter to him, and told him I would be taking the red-eye out and would arrive the Monday after finals.

His response? "That doesn't give me much time to recover from my flight back from Europe." So I calmly tried to explain that I only have a week for Spring Break and that I needed to fly back on Saturday to spend Easter with my kids and start classes on Monday. Because we are on the stupid quarter system and get a whopping week for Spring Break. I told him I would do as much packing and cleaning as I could, and we could set up an appointment for the whole weight estimate, and get them to leave some boxes so I could pre-pack some things. He continued to grumble and I said, "Look dad, I only have a week" not even bringing up that he's the one who booked his return flight so close to the date I told him months ago that I'd be there, or that he couldn't manage to call the movers, but could book a flight to Europe. He says to me, "Well, I have less than a year."

I know he's sick. I know chemo makes him feel crappy, but the general self-centered crabbiness is a pre-existing condition. And I'm trying to help him. And I feel like the fact that I'm taking my one week off between now and June and going to pack his house and scrub his toilet means he could be at least decent toward me. I'm not doing this because I expect gratitude or saint points, but because this is what family does. I have to admit though that I'm starting to feel like he's deliberately making things difficult. I suppose the repressed Psychology major in me could look at this as a last ditch effort for him to maintain some control. Or something.

And then I feel guilty about being angry with a (most likely) terminally ill man. *sigh* I swear, I can't win here.

Any thoughts?

You're right - you can't win. You do what you have to do and feel good about having done the right thing later. It sucks, but don't feel guilty. I'd bet you're doing more than 90% of the population would do.
you do what you can do—and you're doing it. he'll crab about it, but that won't really make any difference. in the end, you'll have helped him as much as you can.

it's easy for ME to say it, but try and be patient, too. you are right—you can't win—so don't try. just do what you can.
oh, lq...i know how difficult that situation is...wanting to help and throttle in the same moment :) and i agree with ml and're doing everything you can, and there is still no way to make it a win-win...hang in there, and make sure you take at least a little time to take care of you... :)
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