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My Dad was Crazy

When I talk about my father, that is what most people are likely to hear.  It is a very flippant answer, but it explains a lot.

I have some memories of my father from when I was young.  I remember a smiling man with a huge dark mustache.  Someone who took his daughter to play basketball (Okay, he shot hoops and I chased balls, but that was his way of including me) and wrestled and threw snowballs.

But when I was nine, that mad vanished.  My dad had a complete break.  He went into a hospital.  My mom tells me he was unresponsive for a few weeks.  I remember the hospital.  It had decorations for St Patty’s day.  When we were going through my dad’s things after he died, mom and I found my father’s evaluation sheet before he was admitted into the hospital.  It was his reasoning for wanting help.  Even now I am tearing up over it, because in the two pages he mentioned me a few times.  He wanted to get better for me.

My dad went through shock treatments.  My mom, stubborn woman that she was, stood by him despite everything.  I went to therapy.  It was a traumatic time.  When my dad got out of the hospital we moved to Florida.  The idea was that the change in situation and being close to his mother, who had moved to South Florida earlier, would help him.

I guess it did for a while, but not for very long.  In a few years, it all went to hell again.  My parents were really good about not letting me understand why things were so strange for us.  I am not sure that was such a good thing.  I really did not understand what was happening and I acted out.  I also had my own medical and psychological problems at the same time.  It was a bad time.

But Dad recovered and I grew a little more balanced.  I survived High School, but it was already growing apparent before I left for college that things were going kinda odd with Dad.  How odd?  Well, I learned to break into our house while in junior high and high school, because if I did not know where my keys were, we had to go buy locks, right then.  Even if I could have walked into my room and found them, we had to go buy locks.  He would check the door to be sure it was locked over and over and over again.

By the time I went to College in 1988, it was obvious that something was very very wrong.  When I dropped out of  college two years later, we had finally found out just how wrong things were.  After more than a decade of suffering, my father was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. 

This is not to say that things were easier once the diagnosis was made, but it made it easier to understand.  The decade that followed was not any easier but at least we had a better idea of what was happening.

Drugs never helped, except to make my dad more of a zombie.  One of my father’s doctors actually prescribed more medication to keep my father from calling him.  It was a maddening cycle of drugs and stress and insanity.  During that time, my dad’s mother died of cancer and I suffered and recovered from the worst bout of depression in my life.

And through it all, my dad got worse and worse.  Twenty years before he died, I lost the smiling man.  Five years before he died, I lost the thinking man.  The man who pulled me back from the brink of they abyss.

The last five years of my dad’s life were miserable for us all.  My father struggled with drugs that dulled his mind and slowed his body.  He struggled with other health issues that made treatment of his mental problems worse.  My mother and I were at odds.  I moved in with them, briefly, wanting to help as best I could, but my schedule, which kept me out until late hours disturbed my father’s schedule.  Eventually, I moved to Oregon.  A year and a half after I moved, my father died.

It seems odd to say how much I loved him when I think about it.  After all, I really did not know him much at all.  Sometimes I wonder if this lies at the crux of my inability to connect to people, why I constantly feel like an outsider.  Sometimes, I just think I am crazy too.

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