1:45 p.m. Dad’s going nuts. He tore into that real estate agent, in front of [my brother] N. I wonder what N’s reaction was. I wonder if dad is burning bridges he doesn’t realize he’s burning.
11:25 p.m. This is the first thing I’ve ever heard about dad that makes me ashamed of him. Sure, there was his … and that lowered my respect for him, but this is the first time that Dad has been a public embarrassment. N said he felt bad for J__ having to listen to it.
Called N tonight to see what he thought of dad’s scene—first thing he said was dad’s insane, or rather, that dad is to a higher degree of instability than before.
I’m going to say something this weekend. I feel like I ‘m the adult and he’s an adolescent, or at least an irresponsible adult. I’ve felt more like an equal to him, rather than a son, and maybe his … and my resulting loss of respect/awe for him is a cause of that. But I feel I need to say something. I don’t feel burdened like it’s my duty to say something because I’m the oldest son—I care about him, and I feel sad and helpless to see him get like this. I feel I need to say something because no one else will—either like mom or C__, they aren’t that close to dad and don’t particularly want to be, or they’re either more distant, like D_, J__, P__ & P__—they see his madness, I suspect, but they maybe don’t feel it’s their place to say anything. Or they simply aren’t close enough or don’t care/want to bet involved, etc. And I’m not saying they should. But I don’t think G__ or J__ will say anything either. N and (my brother) D largely just want to distance themselves from this situation.
I’ve been sitting here in my observation booth, making comments. Hell, I’ve almost been rude in my questions lately, asking whether dad actually has the money to make these purchases. Well, I never asked anything that directly—well, maybe I did, with this farm. I’ve been asking about risk. I hear the news second-hand, usually, filtered down from mom or N, and then dad tells me, and the last month I’ve tried to not be a cheerleader, like maybe I was more of last fall. But I’ve been almost reluctant, or hesitant—though not going so far as to tell him it’s wrong. I’ve still reacted with surface interest, surface enthusiasm.
But it’s time to say something. I won’t say he’s wrong—I don’t want to alienate him. I’ll just say that he’s not himself. Maybe I’ll bring up medication. He’s just not himself. N tonight said,”he’s all extremes.” H called back last Thursday morning and apologized for cutting me off after an hour-long chat. There was no need to apologize—and that’s just not him. After blowing up Monday, he apologized four times to N.
What C__ said was that manics have delusions of grandeur—they’re all-powerful. Dad’s been buying like a madman. So I hope dad doesn’t just tell me I’m wrong and leave, or, worse, get mad at me—a real possibility, seeing what these other conflicts are doing to him. He’s irritable, like C__ said.
Today is bad—this is a bad sign. For someone who has this job built on all his person skills and respect in the community, he’s going to lose not only his job but his respect in the community if this keeps up. But this isn’t him, he’s sick. He’s not well. It’s like I want to tell everyone this—maybe they can tell. Whether they know he’s sick or not, this kind of outburst isn’t good. You either lose respect or gain pity (and distancing).
And also, like N said, it’s scary to think this might run in the family. M tonight said I’m happier/more excited now than during winter—and that’s true. But I’ve always been down in February–a sh!tty month.
The thing with me telling dad is that, even though we’re more like equals, he’s still my dad, and there’s the feeling that he is competent, qualified, good, worthy of respect—maybe not in his marriage, but he’s always done well at work. He’s gotten along with people, and he’s carried himself well—groomed, respectable-looking and behaving. He’s never been an embarrassment. I’ve always been proud to say I am his son—but, and N said this too tonight, I might not want to say I’m related to Gene H___ much more.
He’s still my dad and there’s a feeling he should be able to take care of himself and now there’s the realization that he can’t—he’s sick, he can’t fully take care of himself, he’s not himself. He’s like Grandma H__, he needs some help. I’m stronger now than my dad and that’s hard to take.
[From journal of Weds., 26 March 1997, Journal 18, page 27-31]