Leave-Taking

candlesticksOriginally Written: December 31,2013

Twenty thirteen was a disturbing year on many levels. I’m still in the process of shaking it off, leaving it behind and moving into a new year. If I were the superstitious sort, I would mention that notorious thirteen that followed the perfectly innocent twenty.

I’ve had a recurring nightmare about once a week since Dad died. It distinguishes itself from every other nightmare I’ve had by casting me as the aggressor and even a perpetrator of violence. Usually my unfriendly dreams find me running from a pursuer, cowering in fear or waiting for someone or something to break down my door. I’ve never tried to harm or use physical force against anyone in a dream before this. I even flail about now, sometimes hitting H or my nightstand. I wake him with furious, contentious screams. He grabs my hands to keep me from hitting him or hurting myself.

About a month or two before Dad died, I became suspicious of one of his caregivers. I suspected she was stealing from Dad because things seemed different in the basement, and then H noticed something fishy with the medications. Some were unaccounted for.

I noticed opened packages of household supplies and food I’d bought in bulk at Sam’s, and one or two items would be missing. Dad’s basement was full of antique tools, brass propellers, fishing tackle, etc. He had two lathes, and he made some wonderful things over the years. He made a beautiful set of brass candlesticks and gave them to me when we were first married. The basement was so full of stuff that it was difficult to assess, but my brother noticed many things were missing when he cleaned the basement after Dad’s passing.

All of the brass propellers were gone and so much more. We suspect her husband backed his truck up to the basement and helped himself when my brother was at work.

It was impossible to prove anything. So many people had access to the house, but I have no doubts. The entire thing came to a head just before the arrival of Dad’s shingles. During one of Dad’s hospitalizations, another of his caregivers came to me with her own suspicions and suggested that I remove all of the medications from the house until Dad returned home. I had never uttered a word to her about my own misgivings. She had no idea I suspected anything. H changed the locks, and we removed all medications.

We parted ways with the caregiver. In an act of rank audacity she actually tried to get us to take her back. Clearly, she will never use me for a reference, but there’s not much else I can do. She wasn’t from an agency, I don’t have proof. She now works at something far removed from caregiving. That is some consolation. And all of this came to light during an already horribly stressful time. My thoughts were somewhere else entirely.

Dad had some wonderful caregivers. This was the only one in seven years who had a shaky moral compass. It still rankles that she got away with such obscene behavior.

So, about once a week I throw her out of Dad’s house in a decidedly uncivil way. I’m always giving her a verbal dressing-down, and sometimes I actually shove and swipe at her to remove her from the house. That’s when H wakes me. During the day, I’m lured into believing I’ve taken leave of all that, but it comes back over and over at night. Methinks someone is harboring a teensy tiny bit of anger, but I believe the real problem is regret that I didn’t pursue it to the hilt at the time. Can you imagine Dad’s tiny living room full of police officers and hospice workers at the same time? Of course, she counted on us being overwhelmed.

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