A Weekend with Family
Eva was waiting for me, actually stood at the house’s front door, when I arrived, that Friday evening. I had barely parked the car in the driveway when she rushed up to me.
“He’s watching some crap on the television. I’ve left my new mobile number, his GP’s number and the District Nurses’ number on the front of the fridge. His pills are in the dosett box, on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I’ve left a set of keys in the hallway for you. I’m off and I’ll see you on Sunday.”
She didn’t wait for me to say anything, she just rushed passed me, jumped into her car and drove off. I, with my overnight bag in my hand, went into the home. She had been right, I found Dad sitting in the lounge and watching some quiz show on the television.
“Hello Dad,” I said.
“This is a cracking show,” he said, without taking his eyes off the television.
“Good,” I muttered and left him watching it. I took my bag upstairs to the house’s tiny guest room.
Eva, my stepmother, was having one of her regular “Weekends Away”, as she called them, and it had fallen to me to look after my father. Since his Alzheimer's Disease had worsened, nearly two years ago, he couldn’t be left alone. Previously, Eva had employed carers from an agency to look after Dad, when she went away, but the last time Dad had lost his temper and struck the carer, causing her to require stitches. Now Eva was convinced all the care agencies had blacklisted her and so it fell to me to look after him, I’m the only family he has left.
I was just starting to unpack my few things in the guest room when I heard a loud crash come from below. I rushed down the stairs to find Dad stood in the lounge with an overturned stool at his feet.
“It was in my bloody way,” he said before I could say anything.
“What were you doing?” I asked.
“Going for a piss,” he said and pushed passed me, almost stomping his way out of the room.
Eric, my partner, says Alzheimer's doesn’t change someone’s personality, it just destroys their memory but our memory makes up so much of who we are. Eric should know, he’s a nurse. But Dad Alzheimer's also seemed to have destroyed any tact he had. He’d always been blunt (“An old school, tactless reactionary bastard,” Mum would refer to him after their divorce) but now he didn’t seem to care what he said. Because of that, Eva and Eric had agreed that it was best that Eric stayed away from him. Before Alzheimer's, Dad hadn’t liked Eric, my sexuality was not one of his favourite subjects, now he could be really nasty. So I was here on my own.
“Eva! Eva! Where the bastard are you?” Dad shouted, a few moments later. I always winced inside when I heard him swear now. Growing up, he’d have beaten me for using language like that.
I found him stood in the downstairs toilet doorway with his pants around him ankles (I felt another flush of embracement at this).
“She’s gone away for the weekend,” I answered him.
“She never told me.”
“Yes, she did,” I told me.
“No, she didn’t!” He shook his head.
I decided not to argue so instead I said, “Why didn’t you pull your pants up?”
“Because I can’t reach!”
I knelt down and started to pull them up for him, careful not to look at his cock. I’d never thought I’d have to do this and I felt my stomach sink with embracement. Once I was done I said to him:
“Let’s go and start supper.”
I sat him at the kitchen table while I looked through the fridge, were Eva had left a supply of ready meals.
“Where’s Eva?” Dad said.
“She’s gone away for the weekend,” I told him.
“She never told me.”
“Yes she did,” I repeated myself.
“No she didn’t Keith, I know what she said to me!”
I stopped and turned to face him, now it was shock that grabbed at me.
“I’m Tom, your other son. Keith’s dead. He killed himself twenty years ago.”
“Don’t lie to your father. I know my own son, you’re Keith. Tom killed himself. He was a dirty little queer and they all kill themselves!”
“I’m Tom!” I shouted back, my temper finally breaking. “Keith killed himself when he was nineteen. His girlfriend fell pregnant and he wanted to marry her but you forbid him. You said Carol was a dirty slut and the baby wasn’t even his. You cut Keith off without a penny. He had to drop out of university. Carol left him and had an abortion. He was so heartbroken and so down that he killed himself. He took an overdose. You said it was all his fault. That’s why Mum left you and has never spoken to you again. I was fourteen at the time and hated you for it because you took my brother away from me…” I’d never said this to him before and never told him how much I blamed him for Keith’s death but the anger took over and all of it just fell out of me.
“Don’t you bloody lie to me!” He shouted back. “I don’t like your jokes, Keith. Tom was a dirty little queer who killed himself because I won’t let him carry on with that queer bastard of a boyfriend of his. I know what happened.”
I balled my fists up in anger.
Eva spent her “Weekends Away” with a man she’d meet at her Alzheimer's support group. His wife had Alzheimer's too. They booked into a hotel and had a weekend of sex and romantic meals, and tried to forget about their spouses back at home. When I’d first heard of what exactly her weekends were I’d got very prudish, Eric had taken the piss out of me, but I couldn’t get ignore the fact that Eva was still married to Dad. Now, I understood why she needed her weekends away, it was only Friday evening. I had two whole days of this to come.
“Keith, why don’t you bring that wife of yours to see me. I want to see my grandchildren. I have a right to do so, I’m their grandfather…”
“You haven’t any grandchildren, you stupid old bastard,” I muttered as I turned back to the fridge. “You saw to that…” I looked into the fridge and wondered which ready meal would actually choke him.