Observations on my 84 Year-old Dad: Father’s Day Edition

Observations on my 84 Year-old Dad: Father’s Day Edition

It’s Father’s Day. I guess it’s time to fill everyone in on what’s up with 84-year old Lou. It has been over two months since I last opined about him. I kind of got busy with life: selling my book (found an agent), catching up on the work I missed dealing with my dying mother for 28 days, rampaging for Sylvain, etc.

“What’s Lou been up to” you ask? He has not gone to post–op rehab. What say me? I say, dad presently has no children that wish to speak to him. “What now?” you ask? Perhaps I’m jumping all over the place and confusing you. Well, Lou Weiss keeps you on your toes.

Let’s start about two few weeks back:

Dad – “I’m having a surgical procedure on my back next Tuesday. They’ll be performing a laminectomy on me.”
Me – “Is that arthroscopic or do they open you up?”
Dad – “Ya know, I’m not sure. I better find out.”
Ya think?
Dad – “I’ll be in a convalescent home after that for two weeks of physical therapy”
Me – “Where?”
Dad – “I’m not sure. I better find out.”

That might be smart. This was the kind of stuff my mother always took care of. She was the smart one. I mean, outside of marrying my father…

Tuesday comes. He has my sister (the one that was speaking to him at the time) take him to the wrong hospital. This is after reminding him he might want to pack some clothes…and a toothbrush (doesn’t he usually have one in his back pocket?). This is also after bugging him for a few weeks for the name of the doctor (wrong), the hospital (wrong) and the name and address of the convalescent home (wrong and wrong). After all, he is going to be gone for two weeks……………

After finding the correct hospital, his surgery is delayed a day as the doctors don’t like the results of some pre-op blood tests. The next day though, he goes under the knife. After a day or so he has some physical tests to determine his post op needs. Super Jew walks 500 feet without the aid of a walker. It seems he all but tore a phone book in half for his adoring fans. “You’re free to go home Mr. Weiss.” And what of his post-op rehab? “Not needed” they say. But…the Loid knows better and he insists on his two weeks of rehab. But…the insurance company does not agree (my father causes me to use the dreaded and dangerous literary device known as the ‘double but’, where two “but”s are used close together in a paragraph – It’s only used on rare occasions when talking about psychopaths). They never approved anything beforehand and by walking 500 feet, Macho Mandlebaum failed the needs test.

Does this stop Lloyd Weiss? Nothing stops the Hebrew energizer bunny. He refuses to leave the hospital. Sister who still talks to him (Hereinafter known as “SWSTTH”) spends two days trying to find him after-care. Meanwhile, he remembers that no one is checking his mail box. He asks SWSTTH to check his mail, go into his apartment and bring his “911 file” as he’s met someone in the hospital who knows something about computers.

At this point, I am compelled to explain the “911 file”:
During his trial back in the late 90’s, my father wanted evidence introduced of a a 911 telephone call transcript reporting the fire in his Canal street store. Ya know: the fire he was found guilty of setting. No transcript could be found. He does have a report though, listing the time the call was made, a short description of the call and other pro-forma information. Every time I see him, he shows it to me and asks if I’ve seen it. “Yes dad, you’ve shown it to me about 35 times.” He maintains that this transcript would “exonerate” him, proving a conspiracy by not only his ex-partner’s wife, the building owners, the police and fire department, but is also ‘worth millions’, as he would have to be recompensed for his three years in the pokey and the property taken from him (the long term master lease of 305 Canal Street’s basement and storefront). Another name for this is “delusions of grandeur”…also called “megalomania,” but more accurately referred to as “narcissistic personality disorder”. Several medical professionals have also pointed out his “mild dementia.” “Mild” they say. They obviously haven’t spent enough time with him.

Mind you, he could have made the call himself, reporting the people he paid to burn the joint down, thereby creating an alibi for himself. Another feat of reverse engineering. But even if it wasn’t, this unto itself is not proof of his innocence. A fire occurred and someone called 911. Big deal! When I point this out, he will hear none of it. He has obsessed on this quest to find this transcript for years, to the point of searching for a “hackuh” to get into the city’s 911 telephone archives. He’s even walked up to unknown teenagers in the library who are sitting at a computer and asked them if they can “hack a computuh” (ergo, why my father = Ray Donovan’s father).

So, dear SWSTTH, having gotten facacta (look it up…no, it’s not a type of bread) info from him from day one, who’s spent days trying to clean up after his latest fool’s parade, is now being asked for the 911 file. Her flame of concern and compassion is turning to a few smoldering embers by now. I get “the call”. This is the point where she calls me and says “I can’t deal with his mishegas alone anymore. Please help.” As I learned with my mother’s decline last year, it’s the time when I need to step into the breach before SWSTTH becomes sister who has killed him (which would cause me to refer to her as “SWHKH”).

Now I get on the phone. I talk to the hospital social worker, who connects me to someone at another organization, whose job it is to place seniors into assisted living. He says my father is sitting in his hospital room in his bath robe, doing crossword puzzles and watching TV. He’s taking up space in a critical care unit that can be used for someone who needs REAL critical care. After considering the donation of my father’s brain to science while he’s still alive, assumedly to be replaced by that of a chicken (I could use the free eggs), we instead set out to find him somewhere to go for two weeks to be looked after. While this assisted living stay would officially be temporary, what we’re hoping is, he ends up liking the place and wants to stay. People that don’t know him very long seem to like him, and when most of the people you meet are in their eighties, you don’t have to worry about them being around long enough to find out how compulsive, irrational and neurotic you really are. With cantankerous, delusional, old farts like my dad, the challenge is getting them into assisted living in the first place, as they cling to their independence. And payment? He says my father agreed to pay up to $1,200, as insurance won’t pay for rehab when the patient doesn’t need rehab. He later denies he ever agreed to pay anything. Surprise!

After several more calls back and forth (to my dad, my sister, the counselor, the person that runs the place…all while I’m at my own paying job mind you…) we find him a place on the west side for 14 days at the reduced rate of $87.50 a day with food. That comes to $1,225. I agree to pay the extra $25. All that’s needed is for a nurse to visit him in the hospital for a medical assessment. They’re even willing to consult with his general practitioner to find a way to finagle Medicare into paying for physical therapy, thereby circumventing his show of super human strength to at least get him some free post-op care.

I call him with the good news. “No need for that” he says. “I got Medicare to pay for a place. They’re coming in a few minutes.” Seems like the squeaky wheel got the grease and he’s getting his way. After getting the name and address out of him, I call back everyone who has moved mountains and spent hours of their day looking to meet my father’s needs, and thank them for their time and efforts. In the back of my mind I know on one hand the Loid is feeling very proud of himself, having finagled the system to get what he wants (‘Boy, everyone else is so stupid!’ he’s probably thinking). On the other hand, he has screwed up so much over the last year when it comes to navigating the world of medicine and insurance, I wait for the other shoe to drop.

A few hours later I get a voice mail from SWSTTH. The other shoe has dropped. Verbatim transcript of the message follows:

“You have to call me. You would not believe what happened. I just got a call from the nursing home. Dad walked in there, didn’t like the toilet, said the backyard was too small…and left. I have no idea where he is. He left against treatment advice. He packed his bags. I’m assuming he’s getting on a bunch of busses and coming back from Santa Monica to Korea town, which will take him a minimum of two hours this time of day, if not three, with his ‘I can’t take care of myself, my back hurts too much.’ And he has no medication. Welcome to my life. Bye.”

I speak to SWSTTH. She said when the convalescent home called her, they also said that he was surprised they didn’t have his medication and since he didn’t like the food (he apparently got there after dinner was served and they scraped something together for him) they went out and got him Chinese food. He still left.

A few hours later I get a call from SWSTTH. She said the Duke of St. Andrews place called her. After hearing his complaints she reminded him that there wouldn’t be physical therapy there since his post-op Olympian display at the hospital. They also won’t have his medication that late in the day (why didn’t he just take it with him?) nor will they have a doctor on staff (another one of his complaints) and he should know this as he went through this with my mother. He of course brushed all of this off. He couldn’t understand why she’d want him to stay there. After spending days cleaning up his messes, looking to find him a place to stay, hearing about his 911 call madness…AGAIN…and his dismissing all of her efforts as well as anyone else’s, well…that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. She left the phone call with a few choice four letter words and went on her merry way. SWSTTH is now the second sister who doesn’t talk to him (now known as SSWDTTH).

And now…I’m the only child that speaks to him. He’s called me several times, each time asking me to explain why SSWDTTH won’t talk to him, and would use such language with him. I tried explaining that SSWDTTH put a lot of effort into solving his problems, and he seems to go on his own path nonetheless, leaving us the mess to clean up. He immediately dismissed her contributions…and mine. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t talk to him…and I ignore most of his phone calls. Just a guess.

On subsequent calls he again re-iterated that the place was terrible and he filed a complaint against them. “For the hour you were there?” I ask. The next phone call he said the place had complaints made against it, as if that would justify his behavior. I said “Yeah Dad, they have complaints because you made them.” Again, he is a master of reverse engineering.

On his first call after getting back home, he said that “The bus ride wasn’t so bad. Maybe I don’t need any physical therapy?” Lord help me. He’s lucky I’m three states away. Correction: I’m lucky I’m three states away.

There’s a rubber room waiting for him…if not me…

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -18

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -18

My father has created this view of himself as a marketing expert. He took some courses (a course perhaps) in the late 90’s and became an “expert.” When I made the mistake of saying the name of the department I worked for, he repeated it back and said, “That’s a marketing opportunity.” Or when I mentioned that my employer had over ten thousand employees he said, “That’s a marketing opportunity.” I sense what he really means is “There must be a good scam I could pull there.” I thought to myself, “You’re not getting anywhere near them.” The next thought I had was “Remember: Tell him nothing.”

For example:
*When he got out of the hoosegow, he had some plan to sell generic Viagra from India on the internet. Though he wouldn’t admit it, I’m sure it was in partnership with some miscreant he met in the slammer. Let me remind you, this is someone who can’t remember how to get into his own e-mail, or that every e-mail address needs to have an “@something” and a “dot something” in it. And of course, when he does get into his e-mail, he has no clue as to what that thing on the side of the page that says “spam folder” is, or that it’s filled with endless messages trying to sell generic Viagra from India. Talk about a saturated market! What does he think it is: a collection of recipes my mother created for processed meat products? Loco Moco indeed!
*He once had an idea for a beef brisket restaurant called the “Brisketeria.” My mother, who I should say made a nice brisket, would run the kitchen and he would be the business and marketing end. That’s a really scary thought. Who would invest in it, Carmine Gallente? Do any of you remember the scenes in Goodfellas where the deliveries are coming in one door of The Bamboo Lounge and going out the other?
*He once partnered with a dentist to market some medical device about ten years ago. Never made a cent. Still, the only money he’s ever made in dentistry has been the malpractice lawsuits.

There was also a time when he added the word “International” in there too. Or as he would say, “Intuhnational”. When I went back to school in 1990, he kept saying I should go into “Intuhnational Banking.” He must have had some sort of money laundering scheme in mind (was that what he was doing on all those foreign trips he refers to in the seventies?). His thoughts on banking came down to this: get one loan to pay off another. Keep that going and you never have to pay back the loan. Others call it Amway.

I Google my dad every once in a while to try and see what he’s up to: who he’s suing, etc. I found the link at the bottom a few years ago. It says he has 101-500 employees. He actually tried to get “Dad has the plague” sister to answer the phone for him at their apartment and say something like “Lloyd Weiss Enterprises”.

Lloyd Weiss Marketing Solutions: he’s got all the answers. It’s a good thing I never went into banking. He’d never leave me alone.


© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -11

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -11

*My sister said my dad was having problems finding a file that had all of my mother’s pension documents in them. My wife, who cleaned the disaster known as my mother’s desk, is sure of where she put them.

Me – “Dad, look in the bottom left hand section of her desk for a set of pocket folders.”
Dad – “There is no left hand section of her desk.”
Me – “Face the desk dad.”
Dad – “Wait a minute…my pants fell down.”

Am I living in an episode of the Abbott and Costello show?

*He sees conspiracies all round him. “The DA is withholding evidence!” My sense is the only conspiracy is the one his brain is perpetrating on him. But it’s partially true though; his partner robbed from him; his accountant robbed from him…he probably robbed them too. I told him to stop living on the margins. “She’s not ‘non compos mentis’ dad. She’s ‘dead.’” The truth is fluid to some people, but when the truth is so awful, maybe the ones who are creating the alternative reality are the smart ones?

*There was always music in my dad’s store. Among the favorites of the staff, and some customers too, was a collection of Perez Prado, the Cuban Mambo King. Many of the sales staff were Latino: Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, etc. They would fight amongst themselves but always enjoyed Perez Prado. The Chinese salesmen liked it because the Latinos would get so into the music, they’d forget to make sales. More customers for them. I would buy these records in a shop in the Times Square subway station called Record Mart that specialized in Latin music. One day the sales person asked me, “Are you Puerto Rican?” ”No” I said. “But my dad thinks he is.”

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 10, because on the -9th day, I rested

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 10 (because on the -9th day, I rested)

Of the five trips I made to Los Angeles during my mother’s illness, the third was a quick one after she suffered a small stroke due to endocarditis. Her heart valves had become infected, forming broccoli type growths, destroying 80% of their usefulness. The doctors said these growths would flake away, travel up to her brain and cause strokes. In time, the infection even spread to her liver, after spending time in her spine, causing more pain and damage. After the stroke, my sister called me to say one of the endless stream of doctors told her they didn’t think my mother would last through the night. She actually lived more than two additional months. However, right after the stroke, it seemed she was going downhill fast. Then suddenly, she rallied. I’ve been told by others there are often rallies before the final descendancy to the ever after.

Her brother, my dear Uncle Michael, came to LA this time. His partner Sam was too ill at the time to come with him on this trip. My uncle is 78 year’s old and slowing down. That he’s alive at all is a wonder as he came close to death himself back in 1997 when it was discovered he had AIDS. A combination of AIDS cocktails, a large circle of supportive friends and his own, and Sam’s, focused determination get the credit for his continued robust survival.

Although my post-stroke mother was comatose, we were told by the doctors to try and communicate with her. It was espescially heartbreaking to see my uncle, who never thought he’d outlive his sister, tearily try and speak to her, attempting to break through whatever blanketed layers stood between us and her damaged consciousness…and through the ear canals of someone who’d lost both their hearing aids months before.

On this trip, my rental car came iPhone ready. I set up a playlist on my phone of 30’s and 40’s songs for my uncle and my dad, figuring I’d be driving both of them around more often than not. It was no more than 15 songs total. Lots of Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. In particular there was a Billie Holliday track I had recently discovered called “The Man I Love.” I had somehow stumbled upon it, tooling around Youtube one day, while sampling different songs. The combination of the Gershwin composition, Billie’s 100% convincing and emotive voice, those heart tugging descending horns in the verses and Lester Young’s signature solo telegraphing both economy and confidence, is to my ears, which are less familiar with this genre of music than the music I grew up with, one of the most sublime recordings I have ever heard. It’s a musical marriage made in heaven. Conversely, here are the three of us, with so much bad water under our respective bridges, all sighing simultaneously under the spell of this transcendent music. Later on, when I was less receptive, my father said these trips in the car listening to music were some of the highlights of his day. He may drive me bananas but it takes too much energy to hate him. Better to soothe the savage beast.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 8

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 8

*He never understood the DNR.

The Palliative Care doc said we should decide on a DNR. My father said “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” The doc said, “We’ve come to it.” After discussing the pros and cons, he asked me to make the decision. Was it that he didn’t trust his own cognitive skills or did he want someone else to be guilty of pulling the plug. I said, “We should do it” in a barely audible voice. A few days later he rescinded it. My sister got him to put it back. Later on when the dialysis doc recommended stopping dialysis, he agreed without hesitation. I said to my sister, “He doesn’t understand what he just did.” A day later he started asking questions. “Won’t it kill her?” “Dad, it’s not helping her anymore.” “But won’t she die sooner?”

This is key for me. When your life is as miserable as hers was those last few weeks, death WAS the better alternative. Maybe some moral code is telling you that no one should make that choice. I’m telling you, be prepared to make that choice.

“Dad, if I’m ever in the same condition as her, drive me off of a cliff.”

When she finally passed, my father asked, “Why didn’t they try to revive her?”

He never understood the DNR.

*I tried to explain to my dad who Leee Childers was. “He was that friend of mine who had the photo exhibit and then got sick. The fellow I tried to visit in the hospital.” When I explained who he was, he said “He must have been a very wealthy man.” “No dad, he wasn’t. But he was so generous and loved that he seemed to always have people willing to step up and help him.” Food for thought perhaps? When Mott the Hoople were on American TV in late ’73/early ’74, I remember watching it and my dad just stared from the distance. They played this song. On the album, it’s dedicated to Leee.

© Curt Weiss 2014

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -7

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day -7

• He may be a health nut but he likes his cake. Not gooey, frosted kind of cakes, but dry, dunkable cakes. You could call it a coffee cake. Growing up, he would stuff the cake in a tall glass, pour coffee with milk over it and eat it with a spoon. It’s not bad actually. A biscotti will also do and so will scones.

We were in a steak house and he started the meal by asked for a scone.

A scone.

In a steak house.

(Insert Eye roll here)

• I sent my sister some links of supported housing for the elderly in Los Angeles and she was sure he’d seen them before. Even if he did, he couldn’t have understood how to use them. There’s all kinds of search filters. It must be terrifying to be old, alone and broke. If you’re a narcissist and you’re alienating your remaining family, you’re really on your own. This is when the “funny” stops.

• He really liked Sly and the Family Stone. Both the music and the clothes. He used to repeatedly ask, “What ever happened to Sly?” He’s stopped asking so that may be another memory that’s slipped into a pothole down memory lane (that’s a Randy Newman line, not mine. I give credit where it’s due.) He also loved the Locker dancers. They were a dance troupe that often appeared on Soul Train. Fred ‘Rerun” Berry was a member and I think my dad liked him the most. I guess it gave him hope that my mom could get buck wild in spite of her girth. I think I was listening to Black Sabbath at the time…

© Curt Weiss 2015

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 6

Observations on quality time with my 84 year old father, day – 6

*He called me this evening and I even answered. Seems reality is once again knocking at his door and forcing its way in:

Dad – “Curt, the bank called and they’re aware that mother has died. They want a copy of the death certificate. Do you have it?

Note that I gave him a certified copy the day before I left and told him not to lose it

Me – “Dad, remember I gave you a copy before I left? It’s to the left of the computer keyboard.”
Dad – “Hmm, let me look.”
Me – “Dad, look in the envelope where the power of attorney docs are. It’s blue and while and official looking.”
Dad – “Wait a minute. Let me see if I can find it. Wait, here’s the envelope. Amazing, it’s there!”

Will wonders never cease?

*My wife keeps giving me these verbal scripts to use while talking to him.

“Hon, I’ve been very clear with him about what to do. You act as if we’re dealing with a rational person.”

*My dad was a pretty straight laced guy. He always wore the same shoes to work (had multiple pairs) and wasn’t into getting with the 60’s. In the early 70’s though, he had surgery for some torn up body part. He was always tearing something: elbows, multiple hernias, etc. He ended up in a hospital where he was one of the few white people. When he got home, all of a sudden he liked dancing to modern music. Before that he only liked latin music. Now he liked black music. “I was the only white guy in there, and the black patients were always putting on music and dancing. I was having surgery the next day and thought about it: I may be dead tomorrow. I might as well have some fun.” He started dancing with them. “They called me ‘Stepper’.” Now he wore bell bottoms and Huckapoo shirts and watched Soul Train on Saturday mornings. He loved “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” I doubt he ever listened to the lyrics. Then again, maybe Stepper did?

© Curt Weiss 2014