Apr 11, 2008

My Father is Sick, My Mother Doesn't Even Know How to Pay the Bills

Far across the country, my father is lying in bed, fighting off illness, and my mother is fretting that the lights are going to turn off because the electric bill hasn't been paid.

My dad is in his late 50s and has been suffering from diabetes and obesity for years. He has refused to treat his condition properly, and has not taken the insulin prescribed to him because he said that it was impossible to lose weight on it. Of course, the way he eats with no exercise, it's not possible to lose weight in a healthy way.

He's supposed to go to the doctor to get checkups every few months but he hadn't been to the doctor in over a year. That is, until this past week, when his health quickly deteriorated and has left him bed ridden.

But, being the stubborn guy that he is, he's still telling my mom to bring him the bills to pay. He can't even get out of the bed, yet he won't let her pay the bills.

The saddest thing of all might be the fact that my mother doesn't even know how to pay the bills to begin with. I mean, she could pay them, but she has no idea how much money my dad has in his accounts, or how much is saved for their future. If any credit card bills don't get paid, it's on her credit history as much as it is his.

My father finally went to the doctor. It sounds like there are more problems than just the discomforting illness that sent him into the doctor in the first place. They did some blood work and determined that there's something wrong with his prostate. It's either an infection or cancer, apparently. They're giving him antibiotics to try to clear up the infection but if that doesn't work it might be malignant.

Given that my dad hasn't been to the doctor in forever, he's probably waited too long to treat any sort of cancer if that indeed is his infliction.

My father and I don't have a close relationship, but I'm still scared for him, and for my mom. I've accepted for a long time that he could just die and be gone any day, the way he takes care of himself. Still, I don't want it to happen, obviously.

My mom said he hasn't said he's scared, but he at the very least admitted to her that she was right - that he should have gone to the doctor sooner. For anyone who knows my dad, him admitting to my mom that she was right says a lot about his view on his condition at this point.

He's been in the hospital before, but it wasn't enough to scare him to get healthy. He doesn't seem to believe he can, or he doesn't care to do it.

I want him to grow old and be around to be the grandparent of my children one day. He's not the best guy in the world, he has his issues, he was abusive to me when I was a kid, and he's emotional abusive and somewhat physically abusive to my mother at times. Still, deep down inside of him, there's a good guy there. And I want that good guy to grow old and be around for a while.

And then, logistically, there's the real concern of what would happen now if he did pass away. My mother wouldn't know what to do with the money at all. I have a feeling my dad has a decent amount saved in 401ks, etc, but if my mom knew just how much they had she'd go and spend it all. Of course I wouldn't let her do that - and she'd listen to me. She admits she knows nothing about managing the household money. I'd have to step in and take charge of all of that, probably - from figuring out my sister's potential college education to the cost of my mom supporting herself, etc, etc.

I've always figured it would happen - some day - but I'm not ready for it to happen quite yet.

Maybe I'm thinking too far ahead of myself. My dad could just have an infection and he could get better soon. And if that's the case things will just go on as they've been... he'll continue to be stubborn and my mom will continue to be clueless.



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well if it ever comes to the point of you managing the money.. take a look at Paytrust.. www.paytrust.com. lets you organize all the bills online... between Paytrust and an ING saving account you'll have all you need..

As for the medical issues.. there are actually freelance social workers that can be hired across country to help out in situations like this.. it's sort of a growing service because of the general dispersal of families these days...

TheLocoMono said...

There's a good book, Smart Couples Finish Rich by Bach that talks about this issue. How one handles the finances and the other doesn't.

It should be a shared understanding how to deal with finances together for couples because if you have to do it on your own, there's no reason to stop that when you are married.

Hopefully everything is okay with your dad and at the least, your parents would take this as a sign to help each other understand their finances better, how to pay what, etc..

Fabulously Broke said...

That is totally my mom's situation that I blogged about (minus the illness).. in that she has no clue where the money is, how much there is, where it goes, what other investments there are, and what all the damn bills for the month are!!!

Dana Seilhan said...

Just fyi, it's entirely possible your dad IS having trouble losing weight because of the insulin. It is worth his while to ask his doc to test him to see if he is still making insulin. Believe it or not, type 2 diabetics do make it--and that's a lot of their problem, they make too much insulin and can't respond to it, especially earlier in the disease. If that's his issue he needs to be on metformin (Glucophage) and maybe one or two of the newer diabetes drugs, NOT on insulin. It's a hormone, and not only does it put glucose into your cells to use for energy, it also keeps your body from burning off excess fat.

If that's not his issue and he's just not taking care of himself, that's another matter, and I sympathize--not only is my dad diabetic, he's an alcoholic too.

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