Monday, June 22, 2015

Frank's visit

Fri night Spouse's eldest brother Frank arrived with his girlfriend-du-jour, Anya.

I've mentioned Frank many times here, and usually not in a flattering way.  (Click on the 'Frank' tag at the bottom of this post to see some of the posts.)  I don't dislike Frank as a person; I just dislike the results of his lifetime of bad choices.  Years of chain-smoking, abuse of alcohol, lying, borrowing money without repaying, just to name a few.  To my knowledge Frank has never had a checking account.  For the last 10+ years he's not been able to keep a job for more than a few months at a time.  He would have been homeless on several occasions if not for his mother allowing him to move back in.  Everyone in the family has tried on multiple occasions to reason with him and try to get him to behave differently, but in 60 years none have been successful.

You may be wondering why on earth we invited him to stay at our home.  Well, we didn't.  He invited himself, and his current girlfriend.  But we agreed to the visit because we feel bad for him.  Frank is dying of cancer.

His symptoms began a few years ago but because he's Frank, he didn't go to the doctor.  Instead he would drink the pain away.  Eventually that no longer worked, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Frank finally had insurance and went to the doctor.  Over the last year he's had chemotherapy and radiation and surprisingly didn't loose his beautiful, wavy, salt and pepper hair.  But he's lost a lot of weight and can't escape the pain, despite all known measures. 

He's already outlived his original prognosis but no one is foolish enough to think he's okay.  When pressed he told Spouse he's "on borrowed time", yet he still smokes cigarettes and still drinks alcohol even though his doctors directed him to discontinue both.

So when Frank and Anya arrived at 9pm (their original ETA was 6pm but Spouse & I knew better than to wait for him for dinner) we accompanied them to a cute little pub where they both really enjoyed their meals and we had polite conversation.  Sat they visited an arts and crafts show nearby, had brunch, and went to the beach for a few hours on their own.  That night Spouse brought them to see me perform as Elton John in the LEGENDS show, which they both really seemed to enjoy.  They picked up a pizza to enjoy at home for a late night snack.  Sun morning we all had coffee and said our goodbyes.  I had to go to work and they wanted to head back home before the traffic got too heavy.

Their visit was actually more pleasant and less dramatic than I expected.  We had lots of short, topical but not controversial conversations here and there, and of course memories of funny family situations are always good for a few laughs.  But I feel bad mostly for Spouse because I know he is conflicted.  He's mad at Frank for causing so much grief and emotional pain for himself and his family for so many years, including their 85-year old mother.  But Frank is also his brother, his family, and he's dying.  Its a tough spot to be in.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you guys are handling this sad situation as best as you can. I'm glad the visit went well (a good memory to have).


anne marie in philly said...

{{{{{hugs}}}}} to spouse.

it IS a puzzlement (show tune!) when it's a relative. I had a cousin like this - smoked/drank anything he could, died of cancer 2 years ago at age 53. for our family, it was relief felt upon his passing.

Biki Honko said...

Oh poor Spouse! What a spot to be in. But it sounds like dying has made Frank a better person. It sounds like he didn't cause any trouble, nor hit his brother up for funds. Maybe the shadow of death has shaken him out of his prolonged adolescence?