Monday, 17 December 2012

How do I say no, without saying no?

At risk of being overwhelmingly sarcastic, I find myself cheering on the people who gaily sail through life without letting anything get to them.   You know the ones, with the silver spoon of life in their mouths.  Not necessarily rich, or even moderately wealthy, but some comfortable ones.   Those without the frown lines from wondering how to pay the bills, or juggle multiple school pick ups at the same time. 

The ones who pull back from disaster without a scrape or a worry.  Then there are the other silver spooners.  Some of them aren’t so lucky money wise but nothing ever affects them.  They carry on gaily doing whatever it is that they want to do, and without any regard to anyone else at all.

I’ve got a couple of energy sucking silver spooners in my life around me, but one has had the tables turned.
I’d class my dad as a silver spooner.  He never had much money, but he also never had any conscience.  Never cared about letting people down and I spent several decades of my life not even knowing if he was alive or dead.  I hardly know him at all.
He’s now hit the octo mark and has cancer.  He’s started his chemotherapy and all of a sudden I am expected to be transformed into the dutiful, caring, doting daughter who will spend every waking hour seeing to the needs of her devoted father (or so the medical profession seem to think).
Nurses nodded at me as if I will be able to do his shopping and I could hear them shake their head as they walked away when I said that actually, no, I won’t be there to do that.  He lives an hour and a half away by car and I have 3 adopted children, 4 animals and I already have my mother living with us to look after.  Looking after him personally is never going to be practical.  I’m happy to help him sort out his finances and keep him on the straight and narrow, but I’ll never be the daughter running in the car at the slightest whim.
He’s forgotten most of the fact that he wasn’t interested in me until I reached over four decades, so I’m not sure how to feel about that, or the daily phone calls needing reassurance, or his need to have me as a daughter now.
I know he wants me to invite him to Christmas dinner and I know he’ll spend it alone in his miserable chemotheraputic aftermath, and I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do.   I know how callous it also makes me sound, but immediate family has to come first.
He regularly mentions how he’ll spend his day alone, as his occasional lady friend will soon head off to exotic climes with her family and he’s becoming more and more isolated and lonely.  That doesn’t help with my guilt levels, but I have to stick to what exists.  I know he doesn’t remember much of the past, and his guilt has kicked in now with age, but saying no without saying no is actually one of the hardest things I have had to do for a long time.
I’m not quite sure why I’m blogging this, but I suspect I’ll feel much better about it after I do.