Duty

June 6, 2007 at 8:30 am 26 comments

They look at me over the hospital bed with their bright young eyes, breathless with the details of their sparkling new adult lives.  The five of them have matured into quieter methods of pleading for their way, but they may as well be throwing themselves on the floor in the same kicking, screaming fits they threw as toddlers…they want something I don’t want to give them.  Pap is in the hospital once again, an infection in his leg this time.  As a diabetic, he has to be on top of his health, he has to take care of himself and he doesn’t.  Its been determined by my children that Pap can’t take care of himself, so someone must take care of him…and they believe it should be me. 

While I hesitate to say happy, I can say I’m content in my new single life most of the time.  When I finish writing this and whip back the comforter on my bed, it will smell like cherry blossoms, a scent Pap called “too girly” for sheets.  All four pillows are mine.  My clothes have plenty of breathing room in the closet.  I listen to what I want, watch what I want and have the time to plod toward my dream.  I didn’t go into nursing for a reason.  The children know better than to call me selfish, but they get those tight  lipped little frowns that tell me they’re thinking it. 

I wish I could be one of those women who’s husband and children were their be all, end all.  But I’m not.  They are my treasures, and I was a devoted and proactive wife and mother, always believing  that the kids would grow up someday and I’d have a chance to chase my dream.  THIS IS MY TIME.  this is my time. 

Eight more days of things exactly the way I like them.  Then they will release Pap from the hospital and he’ll move in here.  Not because we’re madly in love, but because of duty.  I’ll fake happy, and treat him well and that will be good enough to Pap.   Somebody has to take care of him.  

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26 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jackiesgarden  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Wow. I hear you, Kat. It IS your time. BUT there is always family and duty we have to consider in our ‘time’, isn’t there?
    It’s a fine balancing act, and we all muddle through, doing the best we can. Getting some of our needs met – and having others that are unfulfilled.
    Selfish has always been relative, to me. (Another thing my sister Caryl and I differ greatly on). I believe that if you don’t take care of yourself first – you don’t have anything to give anyone else.
    You’ll work it out, I know, one way or another. And no matter how you do it – this too, shall pass.

    P.S. It isn’t that I don’t feel sorry for Pap. I do. He’s in denial. We all are in many health areas in our lives, just some greater and some larger, or else we’d all be smoke free and thin, wouldn’t we!?

    Reply
  • 2. jackiesgarden  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Well, I really should learn to proof read – I mean, of course, ‘some greater and some SMALLER’.

    Reply
  • 3. Catch  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:15 am

    OH Kat….I am so sorry. This is just not fair to you. I did the same thing when my X had a stroke. I wish I could say everything was great. But it wasnt and I felt stifled. In the end I ask him to leave…he started acting like we were married again. I was used to being alone for too long and I liked it. My thoughts are with you Sweety.

    Reply
  • 4. Gela Words  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Hmmmm. Don’t even know what to say about this. Relationships can be so darn complex man.

    It seems like everytime I stay away for an extended period, a whole lot of stuff happen. Lemme go play catch up as usual.

    Reply
  • 5. hayden  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:54 am

    sigh. I’m so sorry. don’t know what else to say. it’s never fair, but…..

    Reply
  • 6. quilldancer  |  June 6, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    ::sigh:: I know you wanted your marriage reconstructed, but not this way. My prayers are with you.

    Reply
  • 7. Linda  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    When push comes to shove, you do what your heart tells you to do. I hope that Pap sees the sacrifice that you are making. It is hard because you guys have kids (even if they are mostly grown) and there will always be that tie and that need to help him for their sake. You are a good person for doing this. For your sake, I do hope that his recovery is quick.

    Reply
  • 8. guyana-gyal  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    I really like what Jackie says: It’s a fine balancing act, and we all muddle through, doing the best we can.

    Here, the older folks do something that I think is clever. They teach us children, from very young, that it’s the children’s duty to take care of their parents. [Insert bemused, amused expression here…]

    I feel it for you, Kat. Keep your sense of self, remember to take care of you too and find something everyday to laugh about, it helps.

    Reply
  • 9. Tim_Id  |  June 6, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    My first response when I read this was ‘wow,’ too. But it was wow, first because it was an incredibly powerful piece of prose. If it wasn’t real, I would have said it was part of one really well written novel. I hope it ends well.

    Reply
  • 10. katcampbell  |  June 6, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Jackie – Good advice as always. Pap needs a kick in the butt.

    Catch – If I was truly done with this marriage, I think it would be easier to accept this. But we’ve been waffling around trying to sort things out and now I feel like my right to choose has been snatched away. Sucks, but will get over it.

    Gela – Yup, you go away for awhile and my whole life changed. Nice to see you back though.

    Hayden & Quilly- Thanks. Life isn’t fair, I’ll get over it or I’ll shoot him. Whichever comes first :>)

    Linda – He won’t see this as any kind of sacrifice at all. Pap is old school, he thinks its “cute” that his wife has “that little writing hobby”. Maybe poisonous plants….

    GG – Now your old people are on the right track! It would be easier for my five kids to take care of him than one me. Sounds like it isn’t working though…

    Tim – That was the nicest thing you could have said ever. (See response to Linda above).

    Reply
  • 11. Dave M  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Maybe Pap will be a bit more understanding of you if he moves in with you. Its your territory he will be in. Its you who are doing him a big favour and maybe he will realise that. Just play “Eight days a week” in the meantime and enjoy your solitude.

    Reply
  • 12. katcampbell  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Dave – Miracles happen every day. Long live the Beatles, eh?

    Reply
  • 13. rel  |  June 7, 2007 at 12:12 am

    Kat,
    I hear ya.
    Sometimes good people outgrow each other. Choosing to admit it becomes the hard part.
    Just sayin’
    rel

    Reply
  • 14. Nessa  |  June 7, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Kat, I am so sorry. While it may not be the best consolation, you are a good person for doing this. Duty is a very hard thing to get a from.

    You are strong and brave and talented. You can still have your dream. It is worth the extra effort you will now have to put out to get it, but it will be all the sweeter for your struggles.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Reply
  • 15. hayden  |  June 7, 2007 at 2:32 am

    Humm, maybe Dave is on to something Kat. He’s moving in with you, after all. I’d double the cherry scent on the sheets and do my best to keep everything EXACTLY like you want them. This is YOUR house, not his. It’s a message both subliminal and direct. NOT HIS HOUSE.

    Reply
  • 16. katcampbell  |  June 7, 2007 at 4:00 am

    Rel – An apt summation. Its more surprising that people stay together for 50 years. How? People grow and change, do they put their dreams on hold to save the marriage?

    Nessa – Thanks. Funny things about dreams and middle age, once you feel the clock ticking you just have to start running.

    Hayden – Worth trying. I think I won’t change my habits to make him more comfortable. Everyone has a limit.

    Reply
  • 17. John Linna  |  June 7, 2007 at 5:23 am

    You are a good person and you are stuck. I doubt Pap will pay much attention to the fact that it is your place. He is who he is. He won’t change. But hold to your rights and remind him and don’t fake happy too well.

    Reply
  • 18. katcampbell  |  June 7, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Excellent advice Dr. John.

    Reply
  • 19. Gela Words  |  June 7, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Agree with Tim. While reading, I too was thinking (not the first time) ‘damn, Kat writes so well’

    Reply
  • 20. delmonti (Dave)  |  June 7, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    DONT take this the wrong way, but what you’ve said here is summed up in the “For better or worse, ’till death do us part”.

    I just hope the both of you can find that middle ground, and if its any consolation, I’d be hard pushed to do what your doing.

    Hmmmm, I don’t think any of what I’ve written makes sense. This “life” thing can be bloody difficult at times.

    Reply
  • 21. Janet  |  June 7, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    I hope he gets better fast so you can have your closet to yourself again!

    Reply
  • 22. J.  |  June 7, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Much as we try to get away from it, we’re the glue, right? *sigh*
    I feel bad hon. And I also wonder if Pap didn’t take care of himself on purpose, you know?
    Chin up babe. It’ll work out.

    What’s going on with your old house?

    Reply
  • 23. bobciz  |  June 7, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    It’s awfully easy for adult children to push the caregiving status onto one parent or the other without considering that person’s own capabilities or desires. If they are so concerned about Pap’s wellbeing, they need to jump into the breech and take care of him instead of insisting that you reprise the role you’ve pushed aside. If it is “duty” that drives you into this unwelcome role, instead of a real desire to help, you will be miserable and so will Pap. It may be time for Pap to learn to take care of himself and to stop relying on others to pick up the slack in his life. Children and spouses are too often creatures of habit who need to be shocked into the new reality. Don’t give in too easily, Kat. Your happiness is important, too.

    Reply
  • 24. katcampbell  |  June 8, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Gela – Thanks Sweety…does this mean I’ll have at least two people that will buy my book if it ever gets published?

    Dave – It is that “better or worse” part that keeps trapping me in these jobs of duty, so I know exactly where you’re coming from. Sucks, but I’ll survive.

    Janet – Isn’t that just the heart of it all! My clothes like breathing space, they like to stretch out. We won’t even discuss how thoroughly disgusted my shoes are at having to share space.

    Jan – Yup, glue is right.

    Bob – Thank you, that’s excellent advice.

    Reply
  • 25. frothingatlemouse  |  June 8, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Kat, after our last weekend with my inlaws-won’t go into it, but the duty thing…
    I’m blessed because Jeff and I are on the same page about shit. But, it’s all rough. Sometimes everybody else sucking the guts out of you makes you mad. But, you have to do what you must do. You also don’t have to do what you really don’t want to do. And selfish isn’t that bad a word at times.
    If I had the gumption I’d blog about it. Maybe later.
    Bless you, though. Be strong.

    Reply
  • 26. Gawpo  |  June 10, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Whoa. You’re a better man than I am, woman. Way better. I’m writing Pope Benny to nominate you for sainthood prior to your earthly demise. Someone has to take care of him, huh? Hmmmmmm….

    Reply

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