I was thinking about my Dad and how he didn’t know how to live independently. People who knew my Dad would see his actions as working the system. Yet I had never seen him cook for himself or work out basic things like washing his clothes or utensils. He did things in his own way that didn’t really fit any basic normal routine. Even how he washed was not normal. He did have a severe mental illness that was untreatable for decades. When I think about how he lived now that he has passed on I feel for him. It wasn’t that I didn’t before but you couldn’t change his habits and I definitely couldn’t do everything for him. When we did butt heads over an issue and I tried to help him help himself he wasn’t interested. Nobody could budge him. I have the same illness as my Dad and I have a less intense version of doing things my own way. I can be budged and I am motivated. 

The way I live though is a bit strange. Mainly due to my interest in art. I had a pest controller make a visit and they said where I lived was an art studio. That is partly because it is. I don’t have layers of oil paint all over the floor or anything like that. There are paintings and easels everywhere. Unlike my Dad though, I like cooking and washing my clothes in a washing machine. I like having a shower. It was stuff like that my Dad couldn’t do. I don’t know if he just couldn’t do it on his own. Of course, there were various obsessions, but I also feel like he just couldn’t do those routines most people find normal. It had nothing to do with his own reasoning because he actually couldn’t reason. Most people didn’t visit him because it was too upsetting. I remember quite a few years ago I was at home when my partner and child were away for a night I sobbed uncontrollably thinking about my Dad.

I remember when I was quite young I learned to cook a few basic meals that I enjoyed because sometimes my Mum was busy and it was enjoyable. Dad would only use the microwave. I suppose he was like the ultimate bachelor. As I said he couldn’t reason or be reasoned with most of the time. He normally had visits from community volunteers who would bring him out on a drive or tell him the current Covid rules or what was happening with community meals. I know he liked being around people if only to use his rather outdated social working skills. He would tell me about the local beggars and who were gamblers or alcoholics. It was a pretty hard life for him because he couldn’t enjoy independence. I get a bit more emotional now that I can reminisce. I had to remain positive through all of the stress and tried to look at the positives. The main positive was that I got to spend time with him. To be honest I have met far more difficult people than my Dad.

It probably seems hard to believe but when I was a young man I met some people who were mentally ill. One guy, in particular, was unbearable. He would drive any sane person over the edge. He was a friend of two people I still know and we will have a chat on the bus when we bump into each other. Some art performances are unbearable. Some art-house movies are unbearable. They were basically designed to be that way. I think when I compared my Dad to some of those people I had spent time with, not much time mind you because it was torture. Dad was pretty stable in comparison. He wasn’t babbling a stream of nonsense for example. That is a hard one to handle. Yet he was pretty challenging. 

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