The bully pulpit…

As weeks go, this one has been a bust in terms of family relations.

A routine call to check in on my ailing parents went south in a hurry; my dad was tired, his nerves frayed and on edge from years of caring for my mother and her needs, plus tending to an overly-large (and unnecessary) home and his own worrisome health issues.  Then there is the perception my brother and I pile on at every opportunity.  To be blunt, dad snapped at me.  In all my life, this was truly one of the first times he had ever lost his temper.  He vented big time.  As he barked on the phone, it occurred to me to wonder why it hadn’t happened earlier and more often.  Who could have blamed him?

My brother and I have treated the situation in something of a good cop-bad cop manner.  He is more vocal and forceful; I favor moderation.  For all these weeks and years as their healthful world and retirement have collapsed, I have alluded to and mentioned and cajoled in the weekly letters, all in the hope – apparently with very little success – that my drip-drip-drip process would soak in.  Clearly, it has rolled off like so much water off a duck’s back.

But that doesn’t mean I will stop trying.  To say the letters are my bully pulpit is somewhat misleading.  Just like the notation earlier this week about Craig’s dear letter to his son, phone calls do dissolve for all the wrong reasons.  I will continue to plead with my folks and state my case.  As I remind my twin brother, we can only hope to nudge them along at a pace they can live with.  Perhaps they have earned the right to be obstinate.

Here is today’s letter to mom and dad.

March 12, 2010

Mom and Dad: It appears I spoke too soon when I badmouthed the un-sprouted lettuce seeds.  The next morning as I retrieved the paper on the front porch, there they were; their little heads had popped up, each and every one.  They persevered over my bleak pessimism.  I’m glad they in essence said ‘screw you.’  I’ll gladly eat my words – and the lettuce, too, probably in about 40 days.

We’ve had better phone calls than the ones we had earlier this week.  The situation is just wearing on all of us, and mostly to a huge degree on you guys.  I’m just not sure how you’ve borne up to everything.  It just seems one thing piles on top of another, and emotions are starting to fray.  Honest to God, we need to think of some way to make the situation better because it’s simply not working out.  Please don’t read this as an attempt to harangue you, but it’s very hard for my brother and me to watch this from afar; with mom and her stroke, and you and your hip plus all the daily chores and needs and the enormity of a big house.  Dad, I’ll be honest in that you sound exhausted and on the edge.  To be sure, a change in venue for the both of you will not be the cure for what ails everyone.  But it will be one small step, and perhaps that is how it needs to be looked at.  The reality is we cannot recapture or reclaim our lives from four or five or six years ago.  We have to deal in the ‘right now.’  Ralphie and I both want the best for you; health and health care, security, familiarity, and far, far less stress.  Not for us, but for you.  This sounds like a broken record, but to downsize is not the end of the world.  It’s just a change of scenery.  It preoccupies all four of us and truthfully we need to do something about it.  But enough of the lecture.

Ellen and Reid are planning a separate trip to see you guys in the relatively near future.  They are both very concerned and ask about you at every opportunity.  I’ve kept them loosely up to speed on the situation.  They are very anxious to see the both of you.  I hope you’ll accept them as visitors.

Reid is getting some ink in the Midwestern media for his two-man push to get Google to give Des Moines some money to fund a broader community based Internet effort.  He and a buddy in Chicago saw that Google was on the prowl for just such communities to grace with funding, and they took things from there.  Don’t ask me for particulars because I just don’t get it.  He tried to patiently explain it to me in a half hour call but it sort of went in one ear and out the other.  Now if they can just get some credit for their good work.  I’ll get some clippings and send those along next week.

My golf game deteriorated last week before my very eyes.  I cannot keep one iota of concentration and the results can be very dire.  I make more bogies and doubles from the middle of the fairway than anyone in the recorded history of the game.  Maybe it’s a sign that I should give up and try something else.  But why be lame at another sport?


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