I’m currently sitting on a flight to return back to New York City today. Thank God. If I had to stay here a day longer, I probably would have lost it and really screamed at both my parents after already yelling at my uncle yesterday.
In the midst of trying to keep up with the news given the Muslim and refugee ban and protests at major international airports around this country, I’ve had my own version of personal hell to deal with at home. It all started yesterday afternoon when I was making brownies at home at the request of my mother. She went out to do her usual JW preaching, and my father was at home with me. He complained to me that he was feeling weak and had a slight fever, so I told him to lie down while I made him some ginger-honey tea. My mom, the paranoid woman she is, called three times in two hours to ask if everything was all right. I said everything was fine and that the brownies came out chewy. I said that my dad was feeling weak, so I told him to lie down. He insisted he still wanted to come to dinner but didn’t want to walk, so my aunt drove all of us to the restaurant a few hours later. We arrived at the restaurant; he greeted no one and scowled at everyone. He sat down at the table with his arms crossed, looking like a tense and unhappy toddler. My mom arrived later, and he kept snapping at her. She asked him what was wrong, and he responded, “Don’t you know? I have a fever!” No, she didn’t know because he never told her.
Dinner went on, and she tried to get him to eat, and he continued to whine and whinge in the same tone of a young child, insisting he didn’t want more food and didn’t have an appetite. My parents socialized with no one except for the occasional question to my cousin sitting next to them. They sat there as “statues” as my parents once criticized my mother-in-law of being. My mom got angry at me when I served tea to my uncle and cousins before her and my dad when I didn’t even see that they had finished their tea. Then, when dinner ended, we went home. The whole crew came back to the house to hang out for a little bit, and while everyone went upstairs to my aunt’s, my dad went into his room and shut the door. My mom followed him.
After spending some time upstairs, Chris arrived back again, and my mom pulled me aside into her room. “Why didn’t you tell me that your father had a fever?” she says in her signature icy tone. “If I had known he had a fever, I would have come home earlier to take care of him, and I definitely would not have let him go to dinner. See what happens when you don’t tell me anything? You have to tell me these things. This is when things go wrong. He won’t tell me because he doesn’t know how. Your father doesn’t know how to take care of himself. Now he’s sick and has a fever. Can you read this thermometer and see that it says 100 (F)? Can you? If I came home early, he wouldn’t feel weak like this now.”
So in other words, it’s my fault my dad had a fever and went to dinner when he could have been an adult and decided himself he didn’t have to go to dinner. It’s my fault because I didn’t tell my mom sooner, and because my dad needs my mom to mother him endlessly. It’s our responsibility to take care of him because “He cannot take care of himself. Without your father, we would have nothing. Don’t you realize that? Do you not understand?”
And to continue the drama, we scheduled a dim sum lunch near the house with my aunt at noon today. My dad didn’t go because he still claimed to feel weak, though his fever had miraculously disappeared. My mom announced at lunch that my dad had diarrhea and felt weak, and I suggested that maybe he ate something bad. My mom changed the subject.
When I got home, that’s when she voiced her strong dissatisfaction at my saying that. “Yvonne, I want you to know that your father did not eat anything bad,” she said in her usual tone of “don’t fuck with me.” “I never gave him spoiled food. I only give him good food. Everyone at dinner last night was fine and no one got sick, so it’s not the food. He has the flu. Do you understand?”
It just got more ludicrous as the seconds went by, and I was eager to get out of that house as soon as possible and was thankful Chris and I were about to leave.. in a car not driven by my dad. I told her that no one has accused her of giving him spoiled food and that wasn’t what I was saying at all. I was only raising the possibility that he could have eaten something bad because… hello, what is diarrhea usually a sign of? And with contaminated food, a single piece could be bad and that’s all it takes for a person to get sick, so just because no one else got sick doesn’t mean something he ate was not bad; don’t they remember what happened to me in Vietnam? Oh, or was that because as my dad accused me of then, “You have a weak stomach!” as I was running to the bathroom every hour (as I always say, everything is my fault in this house. Everything — especially after Ed passed). “Stop arguing with me!” she raised her voice. The man-child chimes in. “That is NOT what happened here. I have the FLU!”
In less than 24 hours, I was accused of giving my dad a fever, having his weakness exacerbated for “allowing” him to go to dinner and not telling my mother in advance, and then supposedly suggesting my mother tried to give my dad food poisoning.