{ Saturday, December 20, 2003 }

News of the Father.

So, today I called my father's house. I was going to be in Cincinnati and I wanted to know if my sister, Nikki, wanted to go shopping with me on Ludlow in Clifton. I was really hoping we'd find some sort of sculpture or something with Dad written all over it. (My father's house sometimes reminds me of any of those Indonesian Imports stores on Ludlow).

I left a message.

Dad called me back. Clearly, we're not the biggest communicators. There'd been a lot of news since last we'd spoken (the week after Thanksgiving)

My grandfather got out of the hospital. The day he was supposed to get out, my grandmother fell down and shattered some portion of her leg, I think he said kneecap, but he wasn't terribly clear with me on the details. She was in the hospital for "like ten days or something". My grandmother is a mean, mean lady and I will not be visiting her regardless. I probably will send a card.

So, he has two invalid parents.

On top of which, my sixteen year old half-sister, Nikki, ran away from home. It was sort of passive, but she didn't come home and she strung Dad along by cell phone from a Wednesday to a Sunday night and then he called the police. She spent a few days in a Juvenile Detention Center and now she's in a Group Home. Dad's working really hard to straddle the line between "I do love you" and "This is the rest of your life if you can't learn how to abide by some simple rules."

We were on the phone for a couple of hours. Honestly, I don't know if he wants her back. I have no idea what is going to happen to my little sister. It scares the hell out of me.

He went out there and brought her her make-up (he went to the house where she'd been staying to get it for her). He also brought her one of her Blink 182 posters and two books. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Catcher in the Rye. My father has an excellent sense of humor. Also, my sister is pretty ignorant on the subject of literature so she obviously did not get the joke. Dad seemed to think that maybe she'd read them and relate and possibly begin to have a connection with literature... I suggested he add Girl, Interrupted to Nikki's new Group Home Reading List.

Nikki's been falling like this for about a year and a half. I mean, before that she was not an angel, but I thought we were just dealing with some high level normal middle schooler angst. Shelly went through a terrible couple of years and I thought it was just eh same for Nikki. Then she had that back surgery and started high school and her mother and step father declared bankruptcy and relocated her and she went from being a rich, suburban punk in Ohio to being a poor punk in an apartment complex in Florida. She got kicked out of public high school and had to go to reform school and blahblahblahblahblah she came to Kentucky to live with Dad shortly after the people in Florida had very nearly just sent her away for a long time.

She's really basically a nice, sweet girl. She's remarkably good with children for a teenager. She's really great with them actually. She's pretty and she''s funny and she seems to me to be reasonably intelligent although clearly she doesn't think sometimes. Honestly, I'd say she's a normal teenager. Except that she keeps pulling stunts like this that I just can not match up to who she is when she's hanging out with me. I really just do not understand.

I told Shelly (my sister who's 13 months younger than me and lives in Sacremento) all of this. She had no sympathy for Nikki, and none for Dad either. In spite of the daughter in the group home and the invalid parents, she continues to refuse to visit him on Christmas. Actually, she said "Good, so this means we can completely skip Dad." I told her I would be going over there.

Yeah, so, if you have a kind thought to spare, send it my father's way. His parents are sick, he has one child who won't speak to him and one who's on the long and winding road to doing nothing with her life (and also, me) and really he's just mostly all alone with his dogs and it's Christmas. He's a really cool guy and he tries really hard and he does not deserve this.

posted by mary ann 11:22 PM