Knowing this day would come and it actually coming are two very different aspects. I recently had to suddenly take a trip to New York. This was not by any stretch a vacation. I would be taking care of my dad for a week while my siblings were either out of the country or out of state for the holidays. It has come to fruition that my dad cannot be alone for extended periods of time. It has also become known that he can't be left alone pretty much at all unless certain provisions are in place. Watching a loved one literally lose their mind is heartbreaking. I watched my step-dad disappear before my eyes with liver cancer. I thought that was gut wrenching. Now I get to watch my father slowly forget who I am. I honestly do not know which is worse. I made this trip with my son. He had never been able to spend any amount of real time with his grandpa. My father's health has deteriorated immensely in the last 5 years. This would be the only time we would be able to get extended uninterrupted time with my dad to make memories, just be there for him and spend what would be the first Christmas in NY since I moved away and probably my last with my dad. Knowing that made this trip harsh. I knew it would not be easy and I really wasn't surprised by the occurrences. What did surprise me was how absolutely wonderful my son was with my father. He was kind, gentle, patient and understanding with him. He was my rock and I am so delighted he made the trip with me. I am not sure I could have held it together without him.
My dad is pretty much confined to his upstairs apartment. The stairs make it extremely difficult for him to maneuver outside. He has to use a walker without fail since he broke his back 2 years ago. This from a slip and fall on the ice. He is stubborn and prideful, which keeps him in isolation. After this trip it is apparent his deterioration is contributed much to loneliness. He never learned to use a cell phone or computer. His only constant companion is his newspaper and TV. He needs people. Since my sister, who was only a mile a way has moved he truly has no one. My brother, who is still in NY but on the other side of the city is at best 2 hours away. My brother-in-law who still works in the city stays with him when he is not in South Carolina with his family but this is not ideal. We are working to get a nurse to come in every day throughout the week. It is tearing at me that I am so far away with limited financial resources to provide much help.
I guess I am putting this out here because 2018 just started and 3 friends have lost their dad's and one friend is watching her dad lose a fight to cancer. Everyone has their own stuff going on and sometimes people just need to know they are not alone. I also feel like I need to put down in words why this trip was so difficult for me and why I did not show excitement when everyone else was excited for me to spend Christmas in NY. It was a special Christmas gift to just be there with my dad, feeding him, making him laugh, making sure he was safe. I wanted to do his laundry, check his mail, clean his apartment. I wish I could do it every day. I really do. It was hard but it was tender. When I finally had to leave it was the worst thing I ever had to do in my life. I fell apart in his arms and was only able to put myself back together thanks to the little angel who is named after him that took me by my arm and held me the whole way to Laguardia.
Since returning home my father has become even more obsessed with driving. He was told he shouldn't drive, when in fact, he should have been told he couldn't drive. He hasn't driven in over 6 months and it has been since early November that he has had seizures that some how has expedited his dementia. Monday he disappeared in his car and was missing for 12 hours. He was found Tuesday morning at 2:30 am in his car, out of gas in Queens! I thought he was dead. Thank God the temps went up over freezing finally. He is OK but the car will be now permanently inaccessible to him. Talk about the longest night of my life. I feel like I have been run over by a truck. I will gladly take this over the alternative sensation I would be feeling had he not been found OK.
My son is the only one who inherited those gorgeous blue eyes!
Hug your parents if you are still lucky enough to have them. Call them more often. Say I love you. Forgive.