I had to make a very tough decision. I am feeling extremely guilty for my choice.
My dad will turn 80 at the end of the month. Dad lives two days away from me. My tough decision is that I decided not to go "home" for his birthday.
He won't be alone on his birthday, my sister and one or both of her kids will be there. Still, my son and I should be there to help him celebrate because it is such a big deal. I worry that my dad will feel let down. I worry that by not attending, I am teaching my son to not be supportive of family.
On the other hand, every single time I go somewhere it is to visit dad. Period. Okay, we went to South Carolina last November only because my husband was working there and his company paid for my son and I to fly out, for the motel, and for our rental car.
Every year I spend hundreds of dollars getting to Denver and back. Three times in the past eight years we have gone to Indiana with my dad, my sister and her kids. Dad grew up in Indiana and he wanted us to attend his family reunions. Even though we were in dad's car, he paid for gas and motels, I still spent hundreds of dollars on the trips.
I don't mean to sound unappreciated. I loved our trips to Hoosier land very much. I loved meeting family, renewing some relationships, and seeing the country. I loved, even more, the trip down memory lane -- going on a family vacation with dad. It took me back to my childhood. I loved his stories. I loved finding ancestors' graves. I loved researching our genealogy. I also love going to dad's house, cleaning for him. (I am always cleaning for him!)
Now we are a one-income family. I used to be a professional bringing in a nice salary. In fact, I was the sole support of this family while my husband went back to school for his degree. Now I feel it's more important to be mom and teacher. With that, I knew money would be tight. It is, we make due, and have a good life. Nothing extravagant, but our needs are met.
We have some major projects we have to do. We need a new roof. We need some new windows. We need to evaluate our transportation and update. Money, money, money.
Here comes the guilt. I am putting my needs before that of my dad's.
From a different perspective, traveling is difficult for me. In the summer, my right leg swells up terribly. Who knows why. The doctor gave me water pills. It is painful and uncomfortable. It takes two days to drive to dad's. We cannot afford airline tickets. Amtrak is five hours away and due to my leg, I cannot sleep in coach for one night or I wouldn't be able to walk the next day. When we take Amtrak to Denver, I get a room in a sleeper car. I'm a good shopper and it's usually cheap. Not in the summer. Can't afford it now. Last summer I drove us down. My leg was swollen the whole visit. It was a long haul and I was physically exhausted and in pain.
I also have a little phobia. I hate driving into Denver. Really, I hate it. The last three times I've driven in, we've experienced scary situations. Once, I was driving on I-25 and a car entered and almost drove right into me. I couldn't get over because of traffic. I shook violently. It was very close at high speeds. Another time, I was driving down 6th Ave with what I would consider "medium" traffic. Top a hill and right in my lane is a mattress! I had to slam on my brakes and I was barely able to get out of the lane. I have had nightmares over that mattress.
Finally, the worst was our visit last June. Hating driving into Denver as I do, I went a different route. We drove through South Dakota and Wyoming. (Took my son to see my inlaws.) We spent the night at a friend's house in Cheyenne. I got up at 5 am on a Sunday morning thinking the traffic would be next to nothing going into Denver. We were on the road at 5:30 am. What I didn't take into account were drunk drivers on their way home from late-night partying.
Driving on I-25, just past the Wyoming/Colorado border, before 6am, there was very little traffic. It was wonderful. Until I saw the car swerving in my rear view mirror. I slowed way down and got over as far as I could when it passed me. Sadly, the truck in front of me did not. The drunk hit the truck. The truck spun wildly. I slammed on my brakes, watched the truck come to a stop in the median. Thankfully the guy was able to walk and was only "banged" up. I stayed with the man until the Highway Patrol arrived. The drunk driver was never caught.
So anyway, I now have a horrible phobia of driving into Denver. Face it, I live in a town with a population of 10,000 and 3/4 of that is senior citizens. It's slow. Fast paced city driving is not my thing anymore.
Dad had two strokes last October. Thankfully they were mild and he's doing just fine. I needed to get there but I couldn't drive. We took Amtrak because I was able to get a cheap sleeper car. Thomas and I stayed almost three weeks while dad was recovering. Thank goodness for homeschooling, we just packed it up and did school in his living room. But...I couldn't drive.
So here I am. I'm afraid to drive into the city of Denver. My health isn't the greatest which makes long-distance driving miserable. I'm broke and can't fly. My dad will suffer as a result.
I feel like a heel. I also would like a little fun money to do some fun things this summer. If we went to Denver, that fun money is gone forever.
This was a tough choice. I'll probably feel guilty over it until my dying day. Ugh.