11 April 2010

Life is so....dynamic

Yes, it's been a while. If you're my Facebook friend you've read that I've been busy with my father. The good thing about Facebook is the ability to post quick status updates. That's what I use it for. A snippet of a slice of life. I'm not a big user otherwise.

I'm not prepared for dealing with my parents getting older and their decline. My siblings aren't either. I'd like someone to step in and tell me what to do, but that's not likely to happen. The time comes when we all have to figure it out because there aren't any instruction books.

There's an interesting dynamic in our family. My mother was always in charge. She had boundless energy and did it all...worked, mowed the lawn, shoveled the snow, did the bills, kept a spotless home, did all the cooking, gardened, took care of the family, etc. I'm a whole lot like my mother except for the spotless home part. My father worked, then laid on the couch when he got home. My parents didn't really speak. My father didn't interact with us. I don't think he knew how. I have two sisters, and I'm the middle daughter. The typical middle daughter. My brother is, as he calls it, the whoops child. He is six years younger than my younger sister Lisa, who is 2 1/2 years younger than me. My sister Ilene is 17 months older than me. Growing up, I was the easy one. Happy. Lots of friends. I liked hanging out with my mother. Lisa was rebellious and more of a typical teenager. She and my mom didn't really get along. My sister Ilene was more of a loner and quiet. Her life changed when she was in high school and became a Christian. Her whole world opened up and she had lots of friends. My brother was a hellion but the beloved son and very close to my mom. Where is this going? I think I've strayed but I'll get back on course. My parents retired, and my mother planned to work at Kohl's. She retired as a cashier at Safeway, and loved that kind of job. Plus she didn't want to be home with my father. She had a massive stroke at 68 and that changed everything. That family dynamic. She went from being a happy, full-of-energy person who did everything, to a very handicapped person who wants and needs help. Enter my father. Who never did anything. It's been a rough 9 years. My father's been a resentful caretaker. My mother's life was forever changed. The family dynamic, you know? Everything became my dad's way, only. It's been really hard for my mother. Fortunately, she can do a lot herself. She can shower and dress herself. She can get around the house by holding on to furniture. She can do the laundry. She can microwave food. Everything she does, she does one-handed, cause that's all that works. She has to lay down after showering because she's exhausted by it. Same with getting dressed. She depends on us kids to take her out and visit. She reads a lot. Watches a lot of TV. She hangs out on her glider in good weather. Goes to the pool in the summer. Loves to eat. She has a companion/aide that comes over a few days a week (and who is soon to marry my nephew). My father took over everything when my mother had her stroke. Controls everything. He does all the grocery shopping. Pays all the bills. My parents fight a lot. My mother can be annoying, and my father has no patience. He's often mean to my mother. Sometimes he's very nice. He's nice to us kids, but I know we all resent the kind of father he was and especially the way he's treated my mother since her stroke. Whew. Am I writing a novel? My father is a totally different man to anyone else that knows him. He's sweet and friendly and talkative to every cashier, bank teller, librarian, doctor, store clerk, etc. Very generous. He's very nice to me. He always has been.

He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. I've been there every day. Things don't look good. He can't stay awake. He's confused. The doctor said he probably won't come home. Maybe he'll go to a nursing home or rehab center. He might be in renal failure. He's not getting enough oxygen and he might have a lung clot. They said he's in the early stages of dementia. This is all new. Sudden. They're doing every kind of test.

I'm not ready for this. No one ever is. Right?

And then there's my mother....

I spent hours working in my garden today. It looks so good! I accomplished so much. It was a much needed break, mentally. I listened to music on my iPhone the whole while. I'm sore all over and you know what? It feels good. Tomorrow it's back to the hospital. I'm nervous. It will be okay. My dad needs me. That's where I'll be.

10 comments:

Golden To Silver Val said...

Oh Cheryl, I am so sorry. I know how hard this all is. I hope your siblings are helping, even if its only emotionally. This is not a time to hold grudges over the past. If your father has to live elsewhere, can your mom manage without his presence at home? I believe most hospitals have counselors that can help....can give you agencies to contact that can be of immense help to your situation. I will pray for strength for you...keep your optimistic outlook...it not only helps you, but its a big help for those around you. Big hugs. If I can help you in any way, please email me. God Bless.

Lauralew said...

Oh, Cheryl. My family went through this last year. Very hard. Glad you have the garden and the rest of your life to distract you. Prayers, Dear.

forsythia said...

Cheryl, sorry you have to go through this. It won't be easy, but you'll do it well, because that's who you are. Get all the outside help you can. Hospice, whatever. We called on a hospice organization for Mom, and they held my hand when I needed it. They were wonderful.

Lena said...

Cheryl, I am sorry you are going through this as well. Seems like your family has gone through so much already.

You are right, there are no instructions for this and no one escapes it.

Good that you are able to be there everyday for him and that you were also able to take some time for yourself and be in your garden.

You are your family are in my prayers.

Cindy said...

WOW, I am sorry to hear all of this. I think fathers were more 'absentee' type fathers than they are nowadays. Our dad rarely talked to us either, he never did a thing aroudn the house to help out and they had 8 kids. He never went in a grocery store or anything. It wasn't a very good role model. Then I married my husband who was raised by his grandparents. He's so hands on, loving and helpful. Not at all like he was raised. IT's weird, family dynamics. I'm sending a huge cyber hug to you.

KathyA said...

Holy cow, Cheryl. And we were just talking about this two weeks ago -- about their looking at retirement communities....
Since the confusion is so sudden, have they considered viral encephalitis?

Mary said...

Cheryl, I'm sorry that you are facing this mountain. It does come to all of us but we're never ready. I know I wasn't. I wish I had a magic formula to give to you - but I don't.

The advice other commenters gave you is all good. In addition I want to urge you to remember YOU. It's the best thing you can do for your parents. When my father passed away and after my mother had a stroke I brought Mother to live with me. It didn't make either of us happy. She ultimately made the decision that I couldn't. She went back to her hometown to live in an assisted living facility where three of her childhood friends were living. I felt so guilty for a time after she left. In time I came to understand that it was best for both of us.

Again, I'm sorry that so much is resting on your shoulders. I hope your siblings participate in decisions. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

C.A. said...

Dear Friend, I feel you pain. I am where you are myself, as you know. There is no handbook, or instruction manual and nobody ever tells you your parents are going to get old and need to become the ones being cared for instead of the ones giving care to you. It's unpleasant and hard and confusing. It leaves you feeling torn and unsettled. I totally "get" what you are going through right now and hope it helps to know that others have been there and are going to be there at some point.

I am thinking of you and lifting you and your family up in prayer daily.

Big loving hugs....

C.A.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

So sorry you are having to face these difficulties. I know from experience that it is not easy to have to take over responsibility for your parents. Seek the help of counselors and agencies that are experienced in these situations. I'll keep you in my thoughts.

Happyone :-) said...

Cheryl, So sorry to hear about your dad!! Wow this is all so sudden. Know I'll be praying for you and your family.

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