Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly--The General's Version

Yes, I know that Michael has used that title before and it may seem that I am not being very creative which I've warned you all is not my forte; but mine refers to the caregiver role and all that goes with it. Well not quite. 

All the literature that they give you at MD Anderson says that the cancer patient should chose a caregiver that they can get along with and easily resolve conflicts but they do not tell the caregiver how to deal with family. I have established myself as somewhat opinionated, protective, strong willed and perhaps somewhat stubborn when it comes to my family--that being Michael and my children. I totally relate to that mafia mom on the "Real Housewives of New Jersey", she's just taking care of her family. As any parent knows there isn't anything you wouldn't do for your child regardless of how old they are. I know that if any one of our children were going through anything remotely as horrific as Michael has, we wouldn't leave their side--ever--regardless of a meeting or work issues. Because, lord forbid something ever happen to them, are you going to look back and think, "I wish I would've worked more?" I don't understand that at all and yet I get that a lot from Michael's mom. 

I am often told that Michael was his mother's favorite. I find that very hard to believe. She is currently not speaking to Michael or me but then again, she never really wanted to talk to him when she would call the house to get updates last year. I found that very odd but then I thought maybe she is just uncomfortable with the situation and doesn't want to deal with it. Now I know she just really cares about herself. Every conversation, every situation switches to her. You know when you are in the delivery room and your child first cries and you hold them, you think there is nothing you could love more in your entire life--I don't think his mom had that feeling because it is one that never goes away and how could any mother not help their son when he asks for it. It is appalling behavior and completely unforgivable in my book! To me, she is the ugliest person in the world. The fact that she has never once actually called him but instead relies on emails like she does for work speaks volumes. I feel like Clint Eastwood right now--bring it on sister--"Make my day!"

Now I do have to say that Michael's dad is trying and I give him props for that but it took more than it should have to get him to realize the severity of the situation. And Michael is such a sweet, forgiving, laid back and nice person that he can let that go but the general will never forget this one. I am usually one to just let things go but I have been typecast as the "Bitch" to his family for at least the last 10 years and I am so appalled by the behavior at times that this will be etched in my memory for years to come. Unless I really do get that brain cancer that I have told Michael I have for the last 19 years--which I can't really say anymore since he actually got cancer! I know that sounds really morbid but Michael gets it (the joke, I mean).

Perhaps I should have prefaced this whole rant by explaining that I think you should be able to say anything to your family. If you can't say it to them, who are you going to say it to? (either you complain to your friends or your therapist). Communication is key and I have learned long ago that both sides of the Herlehy clan prefer passive-aggressive behavior as opposed to honest communication which I believe is why I come off as the bitch to them...things come out of my mouth that surprise them but are expected at the Penegor house (that being my last name). It is very exhausting to figure out what they really mean--why can't y'all just say it--I have enough on my plate I have no more energy for the games!

I have known Michael for 22 years and I knew after a week that I would be with him for the rest of my life. I was very smitten with him--he was so charasmatic, funny and worldly to me--I was from Wisconsin, he was from Chicago; enough said. I told all my girlfriends and one of them even tried to hit on him after that--yes, I did forgive her, I knew she didn't have a chance! After a month, Michael was going to dump me (shocking right?) but then divine intervention stepped in. On the day he was going to do it, he had a little accident--paralyzed for a bit and ended up with a bruised spinal cord and in the hospital for a week--he never got the chance. He is the most caring, giving person I know and the best father any kid could ask for and I don't know anyone who doesn't love him--except for my brother Rob, but he is a drunk! I often think there was a mix up at the hospital because he is very different than his family. Like that Sesame Street game "Which of these things is not like the other". Michael's the "thing".


  1. I am so relieved to finally hear some gutt-wrenching honesty & anger.....a good catharsis for you and if "the others" don't understand, well, too bad!! You hang in there & keep the Faith!!
    Sending you love & blessings from Forest Park...

  2. Hang in there Mama Bear.