December 26, 1995
Hell on a Couch

Well, so much for a bittersweet last Christmas together. Basically, Dad, getting deeper into his cancer, slowly being eaten up from the inside out, was not in the mood for company. He stayed by himself most of the time as we all got together and tried to celebrate a very sad event.

Despite being terminally ill, Daddy worried about everything. He was a compulsive worrier all his life and now it had gotten much worse. At one point his car seemed to be leaking a bit of washer fluid, and older brother, Lawrence, assured him it was no big deal and we'd take care of it (meaning Lawrence, myself, and my brother) but Dad just paced around and kept saying,"Oh no..." as if his car had just blown up. He couldn't drive anymore and we all knew the car would probably be sold after Daddy's passing but it didn't make any difference to him...he worried.
I took Miimii and Mommy to church and we took a 30-minute detour to pick up something and when we returned he was beside himself, in tears, thinking something awful had happened to us. He said,"I don't have anyone to take care of me".

We bought him presents but he refused to look at them or even touch them. He refused to read, to talk about God at all, and to participate in anything. He just sat and stared.

After a week, pity turned to irritability. On our last day there, Miimii and I were both down with colds. The emotional stress was just too much. Lawrence taught us some card games, and Mommy and Darrel joined in. We played for hours. Later that day, Brenda dropped by to say goodbye, but we didn't want to break up the card game. It was the first fun Miimii and I had

experienced since we arrived, and Lawrence, Mom, and Darrel were all having a great time too--it was just the medicine for a week of depressing sadness. I asked Brenda to join us in the kitchen--she said no. Then after me pleading with her, she did come out but didn't say anything, and headed back into the living room to sit with Dad. After a few exchanges, I sat with Brenda, and she was silent. I was losing patience and said,"So? What did you want to talk about?" I went back to the game and the next thing I knew, Brenda got upset and ran out of the house. Dad jumped up and was upset because we upset Brenda, and Lawrence just dropped his cards and left without a word. Miimii, always trying to hold us together, chased Brenda into the cold night, greatly aggravating her asthma. After a few hours at Brenda's house, things calmed down, but Miimii was now having breathing problems.

When we arrived back in Virginia the next day, I rushed Miimii to the emergency room. In the emergency room, she had completely stopped breathing a few times. She was there for three days, through our 5th wedding anniversary. When she got home on New Year's eve, 1996, she crawled around the house for the first day, but after a few days she was able to make it to work and eventually got back to normal. After that, she resented my father and sister for that incident.

The good part about this whole situation is that, in light of the fact I was losing my father, I pleaded with Miimii to phone her parents. I fell asleep on New Year's Eve and while I was asleep Miimii phoned her parents and spoke to them for the first time in five years. Despite the situation under which she left home, and the hard feelings between them, they loved to hear from her, and her mother even asked how I was doing. There is hope.

The sad result of a family that often exhales, but rarely inhales>>>

***Miss Paul has asked that her face not be shown to protect her identity***
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December 26, 1995