Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crash Story...The End

We were able to bring Dad home just under a week after his accident. He was sore and slow but recovering really well considering what he had been through. Mom and I took turns staying with him the first few days but then had to leave him on his own at home while we returned to work. Dad was scared. He was afraid that the police were going to show up at his door to arrest him. His blood alcohol level made it back to us and it was high. It wasn't 'one or two beers' high...he had been on a binge. His internist had come to see him at the hospital and really ripped Dad a new one. With his liver function as poor as it was he had made a promise to his doctor that he wouldn't drink. His doctor, who has been working to save his life for over a decade now, was reasonably pissed. After looking at Dad's current state, his doctor decided that it was time to get him ready to go on the list for liver transplant, but Dad's little stunt set him back a year because they require a minimum of six months alcohol-free, with a preference for one year before they'll consider you.

We all continued to wait for the other shoe to drop. When I looked in Dad's wallet for his license so that I could pick up some medication for him, it was gone. So we knew that the police had taken it. But for what purpose? About a week later we got a letter in the mail from the City of Marfa, the town near where Dad had crashed. Inside was a blank piece of paper with his license taped to it. No information...just that. We became hopeful. With this being Dad's third offense he was a candidate for prison time, which would be a death sentence...not that he didn't deserve it for driving drunk. But we tend to want different things for our families than for all those other evil beings who commit thoughtless crimes.

After a couple weeks of Dad cringing and practically running to hide any time the mailman or a neighbor came to the door we finally got word. A ticket for an open container came in the mail. That was it. He had gotten lucky beyond measure, and he knew it. A call to the judge, a $200 fine, and it was all done. He got not a second, but a third chance at life all in a matter of weeks.

Our life has gone on the way it always was. We only occasionally mention the unpleasantness of the accident, like when Mom went to buy a new car and got a cheap Hyundai SUV instead of her beloved Lexus. She was furious, but at the time didn't know what kind of legal fees Dad would be incurring, what the cost of the debacle would be, and she wanted to play it safe. Every time we see a Lexus SUV you can hear Mom groan. She loved that car. But amazingly, like the strong woman that she is, she has gone on to care for Dad the same as before. She still cooks him every meal, washes his clothes, escorts him to countless doctor's appointments, cleans his home and does his dishes. She asks for little in return. And she goes on loving him, no matter how much pain he has caused her and how broken he is in body and soul.

They had planned to move to Nashville in the coming months, but have changed their minds in the last couple of days. Dad is fearful of changing doctors during this time. He will find out on the 25th if he is even a candidate for liver transplant. There is a difficult treatment that he has to take in order to qualify, but his seizures may increase due to that medication. His neurologist is measuring the cost vs benefit. They have put it to him that he can decide against it and live a better quality of life for the time he has left, which is the option he is leaning towards. Last night when he and Mom sat down to weigh the pros and cons of moving he told her of his fears, of finding new doctors at the end that don't know him and aren't concerned with this new patient. But the saddest thing of all is that he told Mom that he wished he would just die. He feels like a weight, like he is stopping our plans and our progress as a family, like he is a lodestone. That breaks my heart to hear, but I understand it all too well. There are countless times when I have thought that my whole family would be better off to just plan a funeral, bury me and be done. I have blogged about that thought coming up when Cade was young. As depression and exasperation at the inability to change have come over me in waves, the thought comes like a gasp for breath before the next wave pulls me under. It gives my breaking mind a place to hide, an escape from reality. But to hear my father say that, when he is already so close to going, breaks my heart. I want him to be the man that vows to live life to the fullest in the time he has left, not the guy who gives up and melts away.

Dad told me a few days ago that he relives the nightmare of the accident any time he starts to think of taking a drink. He said that it was as scared as he remembers being in his life. He goes round and round in his head thinking of the confusion and the blood and the feeling of being trapped with a long drop off the side of the car. I guess he needed the experience so as not to drink himself dead now that he sees that the end is nearing. I hope that he will choose to be with us and not take matters into his own hands. I imagine, at this point in his life, the end seems like quite a comfort.


  1. This story breaks my heart. A good friend has gone through something similar, but different. He has made the choice to stop drinking. We pray every day that he sticks to that choice, as his doctors have told him he will not last if he drinks.

    Isn't it odd that when someone hurts so many, and makes such bad decisions, we just can stop loving them? I guess that's what love is really all about though....

  2. i don't even really know what to say Erin.

    You're so strong and amazing.

  3. Ah, Mae. I love you too. Thank you for all of your support.