Today I called home and talked to my dad for a while. He had sent me a Mother's Day e-card and a nice email of the "I never thought you were going to be a good mother, but, gee, I guess I was wrong" variety. He means well.
He told me that my brother's wife, Jamie, had called him yesterday, concerned about some emails that she had seen. Jon had, apparently, emailed Dad one day to arrange a phone call to discuss something that the two have been doing together. After the appointed time came, and went, Jon sent another and said I'll call you at 11, or whatever time it was, and then another and then finally, "I'll call you tomorrow." Which he never did.
Jamie was concerned that my dad might have felt that Jon was being rude or that perhaps she was keeping him too busy or otherwise preventing him from calling, and wanted to let him know that the real reason was that Jon is just very tired, and he sleeps often, and is just more worn down by the chemo than he likes to admit.
As the conversation went on, she apparently told my dad of some of her concerns about their finances. Jon is currently drawing 70% of his salary, but that will go down to 50% in August. Jon is holding on to the hope that he will be back to work by then, but that may not be a reasonable expectation. Let me rephrase that. That is not a reasonable expectation.
But again, that's Jon. He holds on to the hope that, despite all evidence to the contrary from all sources, that he will be the one to be cured of this disease. Holding on to that hope is what keeps him going. I am the sort of person who needs to visualize and prepare for the absolute worst scenario, in order to feel prepared to handle whatever onslaught comes. Of course I hope for the best, but it's not the same. That hope isn't what drives me. My pessimism does.
None of us have wanted to approach the topic of money, and how much of it they have, because it feels like it's none of our business unless they make it so. Of course then we run the risk of not knowing when things get dire. I know my dad was grateful to have gotten some insight into this aspect of Jon's disease, because it's probably the one area where he feels he can be of help. Jamie wants to return to work, though she can't bring in nearly what Jon was making. She fears losing their home.
This week, David and I have really begun feeling the pinch of my unemployment. We are to the point of gathering all the change in the house to take to the grocery store to supplement the few dollars we have left until payday on Friday. Both cars need gas, and that will have to go on a credit card, which is almost maxed out. We took an inventory of all the food in the house to determine what meals we could make without having to shop for ingredients. This week would not have been quite so bad, had it not been for David's root canal last week, for which we had to pay a couple hundred dollars up front.
So it goes without saying that I am in no position to help. I can't provide any kind of financial relief for them, because I have nothing to give. But it has occurred to me since this whole thing started, that someday - hopefully not soon - I will inherit something from my parents. I have no idea how much, and there may be nothing, but if there is, I think I'd rather that my brother had it, and if he is not with us then, his family. But I can't decide if this is a ridiculous notion, if I am foolish to ignore my own family's needs, which are not as great but are there, for my brother's. At this point, it feels like all I have to give, and even then it is a tenuous and uncertain gift.
But then, everything about this is tenuous and uncertain.