Chapter 29: Parenting our Parents

Upon returning from Chicago, where I visited dealt with dad, my boss says the following to me:

You, know, Rachael, my friend’s mom said this and I think it has merit: the reason parents become helpless and sick when they are old is so that it is easier to let them die. If they were healthy and able to care for themselves, you wouldn’t be able to let them go. But, if they get sick, you’re kinda like “just die already”.  As soon as they become a burden, its like, just go.

Dad and me at my wedding 2 years ago.The thing is, I don’t agree. My parents aren’t a burden, but at the same time, I didn’t expect to have to “parent” them so young. I mean, I’m not even a parent of my own child yet….and still, there I was, dealing with things that my father – pre-stroke – would have handled with ease. It was hard and I didn’t like doing it, but what was the alternative?

For those who don’t know, dad had a stroke…a minor one if you had asked him – a MAJOR stroke if you listened to the doctors (and I chose the latter) – 10 or so weeks ago. The stroke impacted the left side of his body, and pretty significantly. He’s been depressed and filled with anxiety, but until now, would not accept my help.

Partly because he has a worthless girlfriend,  fiance, FRENCH WHORE, and partly because of pride, I had to allow my dad to flounder before I could come in to help. It was ugly. I mean, it was UGLY. In 2 hours, I was able to solve the problem du jour: where to go.

The hospital basically gave him a “closing time” scenario: he didn’t have to go home, but he couldn’t stay there. That said, it wasn’t that he didn’t want to go home….he actually couldn’t. He can’t do much by himself and the FW (french whore) is back in France….yup, she left him alone (this is a story for another entry altogether). Anywhooooooo………….we finally got him settled in and – in a twist that was unanticipated by ALL – he thanked me.

So, while this was all going on with my dad, across the U.S. my mother was having her own issues. Watching my sister and I deal with dad, she started to question how we would treat her. She worried about being all alone in a hospital or rehab facility or ….even worse….and old folks home assisted living facility.

I then spent the better part of 2 days convincing her and creating a “what if” contingency plan for her own extended care – resulting in the agreement that she would come live wherever I was so that I could be there for her to help her maintain her dignity.

60_R&D_0845seThat’s the thing about having older parents – and I guess, about having parents in general: they won’t live forever. They get sick. And, when they get sick, sometimes the fear become paralyzing. The fear and the illness take over; it causes shortness of breath, crying and an inability to make decisions. It can make them mean; sometimes they say things they later regret. And, as the child, you become the parent. Your parents become insolent and poorly-behaved toddlers. And, while you once could just tell them what to do, now you actually have to do these things.

In explaining it to my girlfriend, Amy, I said – “you could tell Finn all day long how to tie his shoe; he’s 2.5 years old. He won’t tie it. that is what many of my conversations are like right now with dad. I tell him to advocate, I tell him who to call, I tell him how to do and still, I need to do it. it’s exhausting, but what’s the alternative? not do it and let him rot? I can’t do that either.”

Other than all that Meshugass (pron. MISH-I-GOHSS), I did have a great visit with Debra and her new son, Frank and with Shauna and her daughter, AlanaThumbs up. I had a great burger at Michael Kornick’s new place DMK with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Michelle, and hit up a couple yoga classes: one with my sister and one with my friend Amy.

deadlocked coverI also……wait for it…..read 1/2 a book! yup, you know what that means, right? I will be delivering a book review to you shortly – even if it is only the newest Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) book……

OH, and one last thing – when I got home yesterday, David had chloe dog“caught” a pup in our backyard….I guess her name is Chloe, but I called her Abbey, since she didn’t have any tags. And, instead of giving her to the Animal Control people, we just decided to foster her until we could find her owner. It was a good call! She was such a lover and, while we gave her back to her rightful parent today, for a minute, I thought I was being blessed with a new “child” and fell in love. I mean, honestly, look at this face!?!

Stay young. Stay foolish. (thanks Steve Jobs!)

Rach

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