Paul is at the breakfast table in his apartment. Tammy comes in. The phone rings and it is Rosie. Paul asks if she has to leave because he thought they would take the train down together. Rosie is asking him about his father. She hangs up on him.
He runs into Tammy again at Gina's. She says Mark -- her husband? -- is in the car. She looks anxious and says she has to go.
Paul goes in to see Gina. She asks if he is okay. He says his father is sick, in late stage Parkinson's. Paul snaps at her. Paul says he can't talk with him. He is in a nursing home. Paul is angry he has to take care of him, and says he thinks his father deliberately mishandled his finances so he would have to take care of him. He says he is just waiting for him to die. Paul says it isn't that his absence is different because he was never there.
Paul discloses that he has talked with Tammy. Tammy revealed that Paul's father was with his mother when she tried to kill herself, that he went with her to the hospital. Tammy told him that his father called her mother all the time to check on his mother. and his sons. Patrick was out playing sports. Gina says his father was at work, his brother out playing sports leaving him with his mother. She talks about the unreliablility of memory. She tells him she knows his feelings are warranted but the facts may be different for that night. Paul is angry that his father did not get her into the hospital, instead leaving him to worry every day about what he would find. Gina says maybe he didn't want to take his mother away from him, or him away from his mother.
Gina asks if maybe Paul is trying to keep things together for his family as his father did. But Paul says his father never did anything good for them. He refuses the idea that his father could have cared at all. Paul believes his father's infidelity drove his mothe crazy. But, says Gina, his mother was diagnosed as bipolar. He knows that the infidelity didn't make her bipolar. And then he recognizes that if one's wife were bipolar, it could make one want an affair.
Paul starts to talk about Oliver. He says it takes everything he has not to invite him to come and live with him, same with April. Gina asks if Oliver reminds him of himself. He agrees because neither of them knows how to be around their father. Gina says she knows he will do well by Oliver but maybe the boy he needs to be good to is himself. Paul says maybe he should try being a good son, go see his father. He admts he doesn't want to see him. And he wondes how his kids will be when he is dying? He wonders if he also has left his son home to take care of his mother. He realizes he has to talk with them, really talk with them. And to his father.
Paul goes to the door saying he has his homework to do. Gina says that next week they will talk about Tammy.
Oh dear -- more than talk about Christmas long ago happened with Tammy. She came to Brooklyn to visit and we know that Mark is a complicating factor.
And why oh why are Tammy and Paul scheduled so close together? It is impossible for them not to run into each other. How can Gina not know this? And why is she not attending to it as a problem?
Gina was excellent with Paul this week. Not getting caught in his irritation at the beginning, staying with him as they explored what happened that Christmas, working with his resistance to see anything positive about his father so that by the end of the hour, he had some new possibilities to reflect on about his father and about the parallels between his life as a child and that of his son and of Oliver.
It might seem odd that Paul was unable to see about his parents the things he began to see in this session. It is important to remember that these kinds of insights can't happen until the person is ready for them. The combination of circumstances in Paul's life -- his own divorce, the work with his patients, the complications in his relationships together with his previous therapy come together with his father's impending death and Gina's work with his to make it possible for this window to open in Paul and allow him to begin to see both of his parents slightly differently. Insights cannot be forced or rushed. And what opened in this session is only the beginning of a great dal of work for Paul to do. Gina's use of the car accident as a metaphor was excellent.