This is the story of my parents, my family, and how prescription drugs and doctors and a state that just don’t care about people have destroyed us. There is nothing special about my family. We were a normal, everyday family who lived in a very middle class suburb in a city in Nebraska. We were dysfunctional to some extent, but no more so than millions of other families. I have left the names out, but it will be easy to figure out the case.
My dad was born in 1927 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was the youngest of five children that my grandparents had. My grandfather worked for the US government and from everything I have heard was a good and kind man. He came from a musical family and had close relatives involved in Vaudeville and theater. It was something that must have been in the genes as my dad had a love of music and passed it on to me. It could not have been from my grandfather himself though as he died when my dad was just a few months old. My dad was especially fond of Big Band music. He played it constantly and would use earphones so as not to disturb my mom.
My dad and my grandmother were very close and it was normal for her to come over to the house on Sunday night. I very much looked forward to her weekly visits as she was one of the kindest and most intelligent people I’ve ever known. I would sit for hours listening to her tell stores about growing up on a farm near Lincoln and how things were back then. She lived to be 94 years old and I still think about her every day. She really was a huge influence on me.
Growing up in Lincoln was hard during the Great Depression and they had to do without many things that most people take for granted. I know that much of what my dad had in those days were things that his older brothers had passed down to him. There wasn’t any money for new things. By the time dad was a teenager war clouds had started to gather in Europe and Asia. And as soon as he reached 17 years old he quit high school in order to join the Navy and go off to war. He served several years on a small aircraft carrier that nobody around today remembers. He was at Okinawa where the ship was attacked several times by kamikazes, but they suffered no hits, just one very close miss. That was their only real action. They spent most of the war ferrying men and supplies to the front.
My mom came from a different world than my dad. She grew up on a cattle ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills near the small town of Valentine, Nebraska. Our family goes way back in those hills. My grandfather’s father settled out there on the land that my grandfather later ranched. It’s still in the family and is run by my cousin and one day his son will become the fifth generation of our family to ranch that land. My grandfather was truly a great man. We would visit the ranch often when I was growing up. It was a treat for a city kid to get to go out and play on a working ranch. To get from the house to the barn you had to walk in back of the bunkhouse. There was an ancient outhouse back there next to a fence and my grandfather would always tell my little sister to be very quiet when she walked by so she wouldn’t disturb the little people who lived in it. He was full of love for his family and is greatly missed.
I never knew much about my grandmother. She had health problems and was kind of distant to us kids. I do know that her family also goes way back in the history of those hills. I have a photo of her being held by my great grandfather in front of their sod house. It must have been taken about 1901 or 1902.
My mom didn’t much like living on the ranch and moved to Valentine to go to school as soon as she could. By 1946 she was living with family in Lincoln and it was then that she met my dad, who had just gotten out of the Navy. From the stories that I have been told they met in a local drug store. The store is still there
and one of the owners has described to me how it would have looked in those days.
They were married in 1948 and at first lived in Lincoln with my grandmother. My brother was born first and by the time I came around we had our first house. It was a small house across from a grade school in a neighborhood full of young couples living exactly as we were. I don’t remember much about that house though. When I was young we moved to Houston. My dad had an opportunity at a better job and took it.
Houston was a joy for me. My parents hated the big city, but I didn’t see the world as they did. I lived for going to the baseball games, the beach, and playing in the bayou in back of our house. Some of my fondest memories are of living down there. Sometimes my dad would take my brother and I down to the docks to watch ships from all over the world get loaded and unloaded. Dad loved ships and would tell us all about them and about the places his ship had taken him during the war. The best thing about Houston though was the baseball. I lived for that game and still do. Dad shared my love of baseball and took my brother and I to as many games as possible. We saw Aaron, Mays, and all the great players of that era. I would ask so many questions that my dad would buy me a bag of peanuts just to keep my mouth busy.
As I said though, my parents didn’t share my love of Houston. They thought it was big and dirty and they missed Nebraska and our family. So, after two years my dad managed to get a new job back in Lincoln and it’s in Lincoln where we would settle down. We rented a house while building a new house in a new part of town near new schools and it was in that house that I mostly grew up. And it’s in that house where my parents would die.
I never really liked Lincoln. I missed the bayou and the beach. But most of all I missed my beloved Houston Astros (who were still the Colt 45s at that time). Frequent trips to the ranch did help though and to this day I love going out there.
The time passed quickly as I grew up. We lived a very middle class life. There was nothing at all special about us. We had problems, but no worse than most
families. I was close to my parents, but we had our spats from time to time. It was the 1960s and 70s and I went through the whole youth rebellion thing. I think that as a nation we let out a collective sigh of relief when that turbulent period of our history ended. And when it did I became close to my parents again.
My dad retired early and my parents bought a trailer in Florida and joined the ranks of thousands of snowbirds fleeing the cold of the north each winter. My sister and I would take care of the house while they were gone and we would talk on the phone at least once a week. Eventually it became too much for them and they moved back here for good and went quietly into old age.
My dad had a serious problem with Crohn’s disease for many years and had trouble with drug absorption. About a year and a half ago he had heart valve replacement surgery. The surgery went surprisingly well, but soon there were problems with the drugs. My dad started having hallucinations, crazy mood swings, and depression. I went over to the house quite often and every single time my mom would complain to me about what “those god damned drugs” were doing to him. Every time she took him to the doctor she would complain about the reactions he was having to those drugs, but she was apparently ignored. When he wasn’t on the drugs he was his normal self. When he was on the drugs he was a different person. Then late one night about five months after the surgery my dad took a .32 caliber revolver and shot my mom between the eyes while she slept in her recliner in the den killing her instantly. He then went into his office on the other side of the house and put the gun to his temple. There was no note. Nothing to explain what happened. But there were five drugs in my dad’s system. Benzodiapines, citalopram, tramadol, diphenhydramine, and acetaminophen.
There is no doubt that my dad had been given a lethal cocktail of drugs and I have spent the last year and a half of my life trying to find out who gave him those drugs that killed him and my mom and why, but I’m being blocked every time I turn around.
You see, as soon as we were allowed into the house that horrible day my brother’s girlfriend started taking things that belonged to my mother. After watching her increasingly crazy actions for two days I wrote her an email telling her that she was totally out of line. For this my brother and sister threw me out and changed the locks on the doors of the house I grew up in and in which my parents died. That girlfriend has control over both of them and I’m being punished for “upsetting” her. To compound matters, two hours before the funerals of my parents I was called into an attorney’s office, had a bunch of papers shoved in front of my face, and was told to sign them. I was not told what all I was signing and was not given copies. All I was told was that they gave my sister the power to pay bills on the house and things like that. I was not told that I had just given up all rights to anything. It was those papers that I signed two hours before the funeral of my parents that are now being used against me and are keeping me from own father’s medical records. My sister herself has told me that I’m being “punished” for sending that email. And not only was I called into that office two hours before the funeral of my parents when I was at the weakest point in my life, but I was already suffering from a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by then. It’s so bad that the US government fully disabled me going back to the day my parents were found. There is no way I even knew what I was doing that day.
I have complained to everyone possible about this, but nobody in Nebraska cares. The attorney involved refuses to answer any letters. The guy who heads the complaint department at the Nebraska Bar Association wrote back that the attorney did nothing illegal or unethical that day. He also called me a liar. My own state senator refuses to even answer a letter and the Attorney General of the state of Nebraska has refused to call for any kind of investigation into what caused the deaths of my parents and refuses to get involved in any way.
Unless I find a way to get my dad’s medical records the case will remain unsolved. The State of Nebraska does not care about unethical attorneys or about what happens to the elderly. And the nightmares that I have every night will continue until the day I die. And my family will remain broken. And that attorney will be free to do this to other people. And other people will die as my parents did.