"Where are you headed?"
"Going back to Pittsburgh to deal with my estranged father who I haven't had any contact with in 20 years."
"Dude, I know how you feel."
I'm writing this on the redeye Megabus from New York City to Pittsburgh... a bus from the FUTURE!
I grew up in Pittsburgh and my father still lives there. My father and I haven't spoken in nearly 20 years, since he disowned me. But last year the neighbors contacted me through an old neighbor and family friend, Mrs. Hoburg, saying that my dad had become a shut in. When the police had come to shovel him out during the blizzards of 2010, he refused to come to the door. Not really know what, if anything, I should do, I left a few messages at whatever numbers I had left that worked, but never heard from him.
Fast forward to the beginning of this April; I was contacted by a sergeant in the Pittsburgh Police Department with pretty much the same situation. Except that this time, my father had fallen in a shopping center parking lot, cut his head, but refused to be taken to the hospital. He still refuses to answer his door for any social services assistance, hasn't paid utility bills, etc...
That last one was odd because last I knew, my father, formerly a cardio-thoracic surgeon, was rather well off. I realize there have been several stock market crashes in the last 20 years, but dad was always savvy when it came to holding on to his money, so I'd be shocked if he'd somehow lost it all.
Anyway, the very kind police officer thinks he'd be more likely to answer the door for social services if a friend or family member showed up as well. I couldn't find any information for anyone else, so, hence, my trip to da 'Burgh.
So why am I going? Well, speaking to my mother, she told me that it would be the humane and compassionate thing to go and try to help him - and this is a woman to whom my father was NOT particularly nice. I figure, if she can ignore his trespasses and suggest I reach out to him, I can certainly do the same. Not for him, but just to be a decent human being.
Of course, she's not on a bus reeking of bathroom sanitizer at 3 am...