I have a crazy brother. He’s 63, a Viet Nam vet (medic – could there be anything worse? At 19 years old?) on 100% disability for PTSD. He’s been medicated, done copious amounts of self-medication, disregarded medical advice, burned through friends and family at an alarming rate and over the years has generally made it more and more difficult to have him in my life. That doesn’t even count the times that he’s written me off for various imagined transgressions. It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve had a conversation with him. I’ve seen him a few times – when my sister and I took our dad to tell him that our other brother had died (he wasn’t speaking to him at the time, either), at his funeral, at his estate sale, at another funeral. I’m not mad at him. The Crazy has him firmly in its grasp.
He’s not well, physically. He’s had a problem with his heart for 15 years. He experiences periods of tachycardia where his heart races at 200+ beats a minute for 10-15 minutes or more. The episodes exhaust him, but apparently haven’t frightened him enough to seek help. That is, until last year. He goes to the VA (keep in mind that he’s never worked a regular job for more than a few months – he made a career out of pursuing disability) FINALLY last fall. They admit him and tell him that he needs a procedure to do something to a nerve in his heart that is causing this problem. And he should have had it done years ago – his heart is damaged now, so it can’t be FIXED, but further damage can be avoided. And the only place that can do the procedure is Mayo Clinic.
What does he do? He checks himself out AMA, just walks away from the hospital. He tells Dad and Sister that he’s setting up the appointment. This will be done on his time frame, when he feels good and ready to do it. He tells Dad he’s going in May. And asks (our 92 year old) father to drive him to Mayo and wait the 3 days while he’s there and drive him home. Dad agrees – which makes me crazy because he has no business doing this. He tells him he needs to be up there ‘sometime the week after Memorial Day’. Dad frets and worries and plans. I tell Dad that there is ZERO CHANCE that it’s as nebulous as ‘sometime’. If he’s really scheduled for the procedure, he knows exactly when he needs to be there. I tell Dad that he’s probably not even been back to the VA, he’s just imagining that he can call and tell them he’s ready and voila’, he’s in.
Sure enough – the week before Memorial Day, Dad tries to nail him down and Brother says ‘well, I guess it’s not going to happen next week. I’m going in July. Sometime in July.’
July comes and goes. Nothing. Same scenario. August comes. Brother has another spell – a bad one. Bad enough that he calls a friend (one of the few that are left standing) and goes to the ER at the VA. Oh yes…he needs the procedure and needs it bad. But…because of something (missed appointments? Who knows what else?), he can’t get in to Mayo until January. And will Dad take him? Dad says yes.
Brother is in a bad place now. Not driving anymore – not sure why this is. My money is on either his car isn’t running or he’s got troubles of the insurance kind and has it parked. Dad takes a short trip with TMHM and comes back exhausted (you think???) and tells Brother that he just physically can’t commit to taking him to Mayo. In January. In the Midwest. In the depth of the winter. Brother says no problem, he has someone else lined up to take him.
He calls Dad last week and waxes philosophical about facing his mortality. He’s FINALLY quit smoking again (3 packs a day habit – he’s quit several times over the years, for years at a time and always went back), quit drinking (Huh? I thought he did that a couple of years ago?) and is ready to clean up. Bemoans all the lost opportunities he’s had, mourns the discarded relationships, kicks himself in the ass for not getting to this point 20 years ago.
Dad is worried that he won’t live until January – a distinct possibility. He’s sad and yet pragmatic – he’s had a front row seat to The Crazy his entire life.
And now – the twist to the story. Oh, you thought this was all? Not in my family – there’s always one more enormous shoe to drop, it seems. About 18 years ago, he left his wife in the midst of a manic cycle and took up with another woman. He introduced her to the family and we all wondered what in the hell she was thinking. She was young, cute and a neonatal RN. Seemed to have it really going on.
After a few months, he announces that he and RN have split up and he was back home with his wife. Oh, and this just happen to coincide with RN getting pregnant. But in what appeared to me to be a flash of genius from RN, he tells us that she’s asked him to sign away all parental rights after the baby was born and she would go on her merry way with the assurance that he would stay out of their lives. He tells us that he signs away rights and that chapter is closed. She wants nothing to do with us, doesn’t want to hear from any of us and doesn’t want her daughter to have any involvement with our family. I get it – I’m sad, but I get it.
So…in August of this year, Brother gets a subpoena for a paternity test. The baby girl is now 17 and has decided to pursue paternity for back child support – to the tune of $250k. He took the test a couple of weeks ago and is waiting on the results. Of course, he’s sure that he’s not the father.
But…if he really signed away rights, how could this even happen? I’m no lawyer, but it would seem that there would be no recourse for compelling a paternity test and/or suing for child support if that had indeed been done.
I’m hearing all of this from my sister, who stays in contact with him. I can go out to our state’s online court records and see it all. It’s a mess that’s getting messier all the time, now with a faultless child involved. I love my nieces with all of my heart and the idea that there is another out there that I don’t even know makes me heartsick. I want to reach out to her and her mom – to show her that the entire gene pool isn’t all insane.
What should I do????? I don’t even remember RNs name. I have Sister trying to get some details for me and eventually, her name will be in the court records, I think. Should I go there??? Your opinions both wanted and welcome.