Friday, October 28, 2011

The Call

Well, it wasn't actually a call. It was a text message from one of my younger sisters, one of the three who still live in the same state as my father. It said something like this: "Police are going over to dad's house. No one has heard from him in two days and he isn't answering the phone."
I live in Massachusetts, a state away, and my contact with my hoarder father is pretty minimal. For me, two days would be nothing. Sometimes months go by without any communication between the two of us and, quite frankly, I don't give it a thought. Another sister who also lives in Massachusetts feels the same. It's a relief, really, when we don't hear from him, one of the reasons, perhaps, we have chosen to live where we do.
I had actually been thinking about my father just before the text came. I was writing the date on some documentation for work, and I thought to myself: "Saturday is my father's birthday. I wonder if I'll remember to give him a call." (Sending him a card has always been out of the question; Hallmark doesn't carry a line suitable for abusive hoarder fathers.)
Yet, despite how removed and unconnected I am from him on a daily basis, receiving that text gave me an odd feeling. It was a message that I have been expecting for quite some time now. My father is in his early 80's, lives alone in his hoard, is in poor health, doesn't walk well, and won't allow any support at home, other than one daughter who calls every day to check in on him. I've always known that this is how he will die, abandoned, surrounded by the only thing that really has ever meant anything to him: his stuff. What I haven't known is how I will feel about it when it happens.
I still don't know. The whole thing turned out to be a false alarm. A few minutes after the first text, I received another, from the same sister. "He's all right. Pain in the ass." Apparently the police had pulled into the driveway of my father's house at the same time my father was returning in his own car. He had gone out of town for a couple of days and hadn't told anyone.
I was relieved, of course, but know that this was just a "dry run," with the real call not far down the road.

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