Driving Mister Dad – Part 1

The moment we got out of hospital, he tried to assert his independence and insisted on driving to San Jose in his truck.  That was a scary ride with him straddling the lanes and nearly hitting some cars in a zero visibility rain storm.  My brother and I forced him to give up the keys at a gas station in Fairfield.  Only later when I went through the medication that he’s taking did I discovered that he was driving under the influence.

I drove his truck back.  A big Dodge Ram with a Hemi engine that my Dad was reluctant to let me drive.  I have never driven a truck before and never a vehicle with an engine that powerful.  However, I did followed my brother all the way back without incident and Dad fell asleep because I’m a careful driver.  My brother is the one who routinely gets tickets for speeding and tossing his cigarette butts out on the highway.  I went into computers and he went into cars, which I have to constantly remind Dad about when he thinks I’m driving too carefully.

He’s been getting better since I’m taking care of him now.  I used to take care of a roommate for four years who died from Lou Gerhig’s Disease.  All the old habits of denying myself to take care of someone else kicked back in.  Although I’m squeamish about needles, I got used to injecting Dad with insulin four times a day.  The swelling in his legs has gone down and the sores on his feet are healing.  A home nurse visits us once or twice a week and we been to Kaiser in Santa Clara for doctor appointments.

While I been driving Dad around in his truck to doctor appointments at Kaiser in Santa Clara, my own car ended up in the shop.  For the last two months, the engine been stalling out in idle every two weeks in the parking lot at my apartment complex.  Then it started happening more frequently at intersections and once on the highway.  When I drove back from seeing Alice in Wonderland at Oakridge Mall last Saturday night, I noticed the battery light flickering on the dashboard and told my friend that the engine would stall out a moment before it did at my apartment complex.  I went over to Kragen to have the battery tested and it appeared that the alternator was overcharging the battery.  I took the car over to the John’s Bascom Auto for troubleshooting and the mechanics couldn’t figured out the problem.

Then Dad mentioned a loose ground cable may be the cause.

My car used to be his car.  Unless I’m having a problem with the car, he never tells me what problems he had.  (After having the car for two years now, everything should be fixed.)  When I informed the mechanics, they fixed two ground faults, replaced a vacuum hose to the brake booster and installed a brand new battery.  Seems like I’m driving a completely different car and the brakes are no longer stiff.  I’m taking the old battery back to Kragen to exchange under warranty.  The mechanics said they would buy back their battery if I got mine replaced.  Dad is paying for the repairs since I been fixing all the problems that he had worked around to avoid fixing.

How is this affecting me as a writer?  A lot.  My dedicated office space was cut in half to make room for another twin bed.  Since Dad has the TV running 24 hours a day, he’s been respecting my privacy to work on writing after dinner.  I had submitted my short story collection to the Prairie Schooner Book Prizes contest last weekend after spending months editing the 28 short stories that I written over the last three years.  This week I’m finalizing my vampire novella to submit to an ebook publisher.  I had reviewed two-third of the current draft today while in a waiting room at Kaiser today.  Next week I start editing my first novel in earnest for the next nine months.  Plus being in a hospital environment is giving me a lot of useful medical information for future stories.  If Dad is going to stay with me for a while, writing is the only escape I have from the TV and his snoring.