David Zaccagnino 01

Oh, Brother

We simply didn’t know. We noticed odd behavior but we just thought he was going through a “thing”.

My brother-in-law (BIL) for years has been acting odd, well, not quite odd, more like bizarre! We live in TN, he in CA. He was a nice enough guy and we had lots of great interaction, meals, conversations, etc. For the first 9-10 years of my marriage to his brother, but in the past 4-5 years, he had become, for lack of a better word, a jerk. I’ll give you some examples.

About 5 years ago when returning to the parking lot after work and discovered that a car parked beside him had side-swiped him. He knew this because the red car left red paint on his silver car, and the red car had a dent in the bumper where he could tell it was THAT car that did this. He was VERY proud of his Malibu. He proceed to open his trunk, take out a baseball bat, and beat the everlasting daylights out of the other car. He was fired. (Remember 20/20 hindsight.)

He had said often how much he hated his job, but as a man in his 50’s, it is hard to find a job sometimes these days. He put out his resume’. He sent it to every company within the state of CA for ANY job opening, whether he was trained for it or now. He wasn’t getting any interviews. My hubby, who is in the world of everything HR asked him to send the resume to him for review. He sent it. YIKES! It was awful. It was full of narcissism (I have NEVER given less than 120% effort; EVERY time I have left a job, they have needed to hire 2 people to take MY place, etc.). The cover letter was awful! It didn’t reference any particular company, it even started off with “Good Morning/Afternoon” to make sure the correct greeting was there depending on the time of day the resume’ was being read. I am NOT a corporate person, I’ve never had a reason to write a Resume’ but I have just in case, but as untrained for the corporate world as I am, I knew this Resume’ was terrible. It was if it was written by a child. (Remember 20/20 hindsight.)

My husband’s family is quite large with many Aunts and Uncles and consequently lots and lots of cousins. Whenever we return to CA to visit Mother-in-law & BIL, we always plan an evening together with some of the Aunts/Uncles/Cousins. Not all can come, but this one particular time about 4 years ago, my BIL and his spouse said they’d cook if we’d come to their house, so many of the extended family showed up, about 20 people. As we began to arrive, we all were gathering in the Breakfast room so that we could talk to the cooks as well as each other. It was a great time. Since it had been so long since one of these gatherings, we were all showing one another pictures from our phones of kids, grand-kids and pets. We were passing around the phones and everyone was laughing and talking, even showing pics to the cooks. At one point BIL had had enough! He didn’t like us visiting with each other and he didn’t want to see OUR pictures, he wanted this to be HIS dinner party, so he took my hubby’s phone (expensive iPhone) and threw it in the trash can with the clippings from the food (the cores, skins, etc. GROSS). The hubby was NOT happy. He thought his brother was just being a jerk, so he took BIL’s phone and threw it into the trash to see how HE liked it. My hubby, of course took it out, wiped it off and avoided letting his brother touch it again. The BIL took his out, wiped his off and we thought all was well, all happy, phones ok. But NO! BIL went to his stereo to put some music on (Barbara Streisand, Kenny G, Whitney Houston, Michael Buble, etc.). We thought this was ok, though not our favorite selections, still nice dinner music when played low and beyond our own conversations because we were excited to catch up, not sit, sip wine and listen to BIL’s music selections. He had apparently brought the remote control into the kitchen because the louder we got, talking and laughing (mind you, all in the presence of BIL so that he could also hear what we were saying) he would turn up the stereo. It finally got to “11” (AKA: VERY LOUD) we all found ourselves having to yell to be heard. One of the Aunties spoke up to BIL and asked him to turn it down so we could chat, so he did. Over the next 20 minutes or so, the music got louder and louder until we once again had to yell over it. My hubby, BIL’s older brother, finally told him to turn it down, or HE would turn it down for him. I don’t remember what exactly happened, whether BIL or my hubby turned the music down, but it went down and once we sat down to dinner, it was at a decent level so we could hear it, but could still talk over it. We didn’t come over there to listen to dinner music, we came to catch up. We didn’t realize that the terms of the dinner required NOT talking and only listening to music. Thus, we thought BIL was being a jerk. (Remember 20/20 hindsight).

At random dinners and visits since then, when we would eat out, he would do inappropriate things, like talk down to the servers, or get mad (out loud) at others around us at a restaurant. He once flew to TN to hear my daughter play at “Memphis in May” with her band. It’s an honor to be invited to play there, so he flew in just for that and was here for only a day and a half. It’s an outdoor festival full of booze. Most people around us were talking and laughing loudly right in front of the stage where she was performing, it’s a come and go – walk-around event. He got furious that people would DARE to talk while she was singing! He over reacted, but I should have been peeved too, since it was my own daughter playing, but he was just a little over the top. (Remember 20/20 hindsight).

He was divorced about 2 years ago and he moved back in with MIL. He never really unpacked anything. He added his bed to one of her bedrooms, but didn’t remove the other furnishings, he just pushed them into the corner of the room. He brought several shirts/t-shirts and 2-3 pairs of shorts. 1 pair of shoes, and only a couple of his personal belongings. The garage, on the other hand was FULL of about 31 boxes of CDs, 15 boxes of DVDs and a bunch of boxes from his failed business attempts since losing his jobs. He was now a licensed Real Estate Agent and a Solar Panel salesman, but none of those ventures worked out.

Most recently, we visited CA to visit MIL and BIL and the entire family back toward the beginning of May 2019. BIL had a very set routine. He would wake up at some point, proceed to the kitchen to make pots of Chinese Green Tea. He would drink anywhere from 5 – 10 cups of tea each morning. He is sure to let you know that he puts nothing in the tea, no sugar, no cream, nothing! Just pure tea. It cleanses your liver, you know. Then, around 10:30 – 11:30 he will make a huge meal, generally a frozen dinner from Costco intended for an entire family of 4-6 people, and eat the entire pan of food. What I saw him eat was a frozen box with 6 “Crab Stuffed Salmon” In a metal tray. He turned on the oven, cooked it, and then proceeded to eat the entire pan. We knew MIL hadn’t been eating well, and I thought he would at least offer her a 4-year-old size portion of the salmon. But nope, he ate the entire family size pan, no side dishes, and a bottle of wine. It was not even noon, but he drank an entire bottle of wine. At dinner time, he didn’t have any food, but didn’t want to miss the bottle of wine. He had also started a strange behavior. As a non-drinker, I thought it was bad to mix drinks with beer, but apparently wine and beer pair perfectly together, because after his 2nd bottle of wine for the day, he would proceed to drink beer.

Normally, we would stay in the house with MIL but since BIL was staying in the spare bedroom, we were now staying in a hotel about a mile from MIL’s house. No big deal, my hubby gets lots of free rooms because of all his travel throughout the year, so it’s usually free, or very inexpensive for most trips. So we would come to MIL’s house around 10 in the morning, take her places, offer BIL to come along, but mostly he declined, which was a bit of a relief as he was FILTHY. It appeared he hadn’t showered in months! He smelled awful and his shirt was very stained, as if he had been under a car working on something and the oil had dripped on him a lot, but no, he was just dirty. Therefore, we wouldn’t let him go with us unless he showered and put on clean clothes. Which he did one day while we were there. We also asked him to move his car to one side or the other of the driveway so that we could park beside him off the street. He moved over ONE day, but then he was back in then center of the driveway the next day. So, as we came and left throughout the week, we would notice a different number of beer bottles sitting around the den. The day we arrived, there were 4 empties. After 2 bottles of wine, I thought this was a lot, but also thought, this could be a few day’s of empties, so didn’t think much of it. BUT, the next day when we arrived, the bottles were gone. During the next day, we took MIL out to dinner and shopping, etc. When we came back late that night, just before she went to bed, I counted 19 empties! To some of you, that may not sound like a lot, but to me, I can’t drink 19 of anything, or everything all added up together (Coffee, Tea, Milk, Water, etc.) in one day! I couldn’t believe anyone could drink that much beer in one day. Again, we thought he was just being a jerk, I don’t have a job, I don’t care, I’m not going to shower, It’s my life, leave me alone! (Remember 20/20 hindsight.)

We really thought something was wrong with him by this time, if nothing else he was depressed and he needed to get back into the work life as he was only 57 at this time and there is a long time between then and retirement. We suggested having him see a doctor, but he maintained that there was nothing wrong. His Ex had begged him to see a doctor because his insurance was going to run out at the end of 2018, but he didn’t. He needed to, 20/20 hindsight.

My hubby and I discussed how to get him to see a doctor for some sort of evaluation. We believed him to be drunk about 24 hours a day and he was totally introverted. He would walk about 2 hours per day in the afternoon, but had a routine of napping as well. He was very locked into his routine. He would take MIL to the grocery store on Saturday, but one day when his car wouldn’t start, he couldn’t problem solve to deduce why it wouldn’t start. At least the neighbors suggested AAA to come look at it (MIL used to work for AAA and the family had always used it, now I do too). So he called AAA to find out it was his battery, they replaced it and it was paid for. But he wasn’t concerned about it in the least, even though Shopping Saturday for MIL had come and gone and she had no food. This was when we decided in the very near future we needed to bring MIL to TN so that we could make sure she had the things (food + necessities) she needed. He apparently didn’t care for her at all. They lived in a small home with a pool. Each week the pool guy had to come because he wouldn’t do the pool tests and scooping of debris. They had to hire out the lawn mowing (which could have been done with one of those non-motorized push mowers because it is such a tiny lawn, because BIL wouldn’t do that. It made me angry because he’s a grown man, and was not paying rent, the least he should be doing were the lawn and the pool, not to mention that they had a house cleaner come each week to clean the inside of the house because he is filthy and everything he touched got dirty. (Remember 20/20 hindsight.)

We returned to TN and decided that we needed to do something about BIL, but just what we didn’t know, but for sure, we needed to bring MIL to TN to stay with us, if not forever, for at least a few months until we got BIL some help. We were lost, though. A grown man won’t get help, but yet needs something, just what, we didn’t know. So, in July, MIL came to “visit” us. After about a month of being with us, she came to me and asked if it was ok if she just stayed forever with us. Of course, she could. I knew this would be difficult, but she was all alone in CA, even though her son was there, they didn’t talk, he couldn’t have a conversation, so they were both all alone, and I think both a bit depressed. MIL is 82 and has mild dementia, but otherwise can do some cooking and takes care of herself just fine, so I thought being here was the best thing. So in July, the hubby flew to CA and brought her back with him.

Fast forward to October 2019 . . . To be continued . . . . . . . . .

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