Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Publish Day - A father shows his age

Today's column, Reflections on a father's failing health, might seem familiar to anyone who's ever watched a parent get sick. I've got a front-row seat these days, and it's not an experience anyone would relish.

Why I wrote it is simple: when I feel challenged, I write. As I doodled, I felt others might relate to the experience - if not now, then someday.

I wish that someday would never come for anyone who reads this. But I know life doesn't work that way.

Your turn: How did/do/will you handle coping with parents who get sick? How do you get yourself through it? More importantly, how do you get those around you - other parents, spouses, kids, etc. - through it with something more than you had before?


Anonymous said...

My fathers parents had strokes in my teens. We cared for them, and we coped the best way we could. One day at a time. We had some really bad days, my father had many meltdowns, and I had to step up and be caretaker for all, I was 16. They both died eventually, my father never recovered.

Hence who he is today!

My mother has had her probs too. My father has heart issues as well. I've seen him through angioplasties, heart attacks and the such, and we've only had 1 heart to heart in that time.

Now I know he is ill, but his silence and distance separate me from even wanting to care directly, because he does not need me today, yet I pray for him anyway. I am powerless in that situation, at least you still talk to your father and have family relations, I don't.

There is no easy cure for the certainty that illness is possible. Death - in all cases - is unavoidable.

Yes you are right in that society does not discuss death and dying until it hits them directly or by degrees of separation.

You must walk forward courageously, and be your fathers son, and do what needs to be done, even if he can't.

"Remember these words, write them on the doorposts of your home..."

I cannot tell you that the rest of your journey will be easy, but i know how much family means to you, and you will go on, and things will happen as they must, but you have the certainty that you are not alone.

Coping with parental illness and loss is difficult. Don't stay in the dark, but talk about where you are whenever you need to.

I have heard it said that the darkness is not that dark, if you use a candle to light your path.

If things seem dark to you, then go outside and look up to the stars.

You are in my thoughts.

Face the future with courage and the knowledge and remembrance of your traditions and faith.


Better Safe Than Sorry said...

i watched my father die of cancer ten years ago, at that time, i have a 10 year old, a 4 year old and a new baby. i knew he was terminal, he did actually speak to me only once acknowledging what this meant, other than that, i enjoyed my time with him as much as i could. i did my best to be as supportive to my mother as i could, she was his primary caregiver until the last six weeks when she was no longer able to cope. she talked to my sister and i about having my father admitted to the hospital, she felt exhausted and we all knew he didn't have much time left. my oldest daughter was aware what was happening, we did explain to her that he was sick and would not be getting better, we didn't even attempt to explain it to our four year old. i think when you have children of your own it helps you come to terms better with what is happening. i still feel resentment about him dying, he was only 64 at the time, i'm glad he took early retirement (freedom 55) but i feel robbed that my children have to grow up without a grandfather, my oldest is the only one that actually remembers him.

Stationery Queen said...

Excellent column, Carmi.

I have many thoughts, too many to post here. I feel a post of my own coming on....


I wish you and your family the best. I hope for comfort and peace no matter what happens in the near future and beyond.

Knockoff said...

I dread the day I have to deal with that. *hugs* to you.

When my grandmother died a week before Christmas, 2001, we were there with my entire family (all her seven kids, and as many of her grandkids that we could fit in there!) at her dying bedside, and I watched as my father lost his mother, right before my eyes, with her last breath. Suddenly, watching my father cry, all of us hugging and sad, I felt the mortality of my parents. And it saddened me so much and made me cherish the time I spend with them now. I not only grieved for my grandmother, I grieved for the loss of my innocence.

Easy said...

Ten years ago my father was hospitalized with cancer. All of his family was out of town, and we managed to work out a schedule thatkept one of us in town with him during the 6 months he was hospitalized. I will email you a link to his story.

Rhodent said...

I think that I was numb through most of my father's illness before he died. Much of that time he spent in a hospital in Minnesota--St. Mary's via Mayo Clinic. I had to commute there from Florida. It's a complicated story, but we were hopeful about his recovery until he had a brain hemmorhage and died. Lot's of family came together to support each other. I don't know how I would have managed with out my aunt and uncle!

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MissMeliss said...

My grandmother moved to California to live with my parents after my grandfather died. She complained a lot, but it was the best thing for her, as she got to spend her last few years surrounded by people she knew and loved.

The best thing about it was that I could spend time with her, and add to the store of memories I already had. She was there for my wedding, and saw me buy my first house, and even if, two years later, she didn't remember either event, *I* did.

Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

cool blog

Steph said...

Mmnn. I wonder every day how much longer I have with my dad. Each time I see him, I have to accept that even he gets older, and age will eventually break even him. Little things like him falling asleep sitting up on my couch with a half smile on his face. The same half smile he had while listening to my last story or remembering our night at the Fish Market eating steamed clams.
I tolerate my step mother, who I can not stand, simply because any time avoiding her would be a missed opportunity to see my dad, and who knows how much longer we have.
I have so much to say to him. I think of ways to say it. We talk very easily with each other. We're very affectionate, very demonstrative. But it's almost too big. I need to figure it out soon, though.
I'm sorry you're having to face this now.

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Beanhead said...

I just went thru the illness and death of my grandmother who in all rights was my mother and it was the hardest thing i have ever had to do. I had to make decisions that I never thought I would be put in the position to make. I had to tell her it was okay to let go and to not fight even though every fiber in my body wanted to tell her to hang on and fight with everything she had. When I got overwhelmed and had a tough time dealing I turned to my blog and to my family for support. This is all very fresh for me and I would say that I am no where even close to having dealt with it yet.

Dlynne said...

I read your article and thought it was wonderful. My father died almost six years ago from sclerderma also known as the statue disease. It was a slow terrible death. He died two days before my mothers birthday. The weekend before he died he had me go to the drugstore and buy her birthday card so he could sign it for her. Oh the tears that fell when I gave her the card on her birthday before the funeral.

Like your father my daddy worked tirelessly to take care of four children and a wife. My momma worked inside the home to take care us children and my daddy. He wanted us to have a better life than he did. We were brought up to show respect to our elders, teachers, persons in authority and our parents. We were expected to behave. By todays society standards they would have been accused of child abuse, but we all turned out okay.

It was a diffcult time watching daddy die and watching mother take care of him. Now I worry about my children (22, 20 and 15 years) watching me. I know how much my daddy loved me and my brothers and sister and my biggest prayer is that my children know how much I love them.

I will keep you and your famiy in my prayers.

birdychirp said...

What a moving post - having lost several family members I can empathise with your situation. Will be thinking of you all.

Lou said...

Oh Carmi, how this touches home.

My father has already passed and not a day goes by that I don't miss him.

Earlier this week my mom, strong fortress of a woman even at 87, seems to have had all the symptoms of a mild heart attack. I was informed by my sister via email ...

That evening, after talking and giggling with mom on the phone, I sat back with a giant lump in my throat and just let the tears fall down my face.

I'm not so young, but yet I feel far too young to be an orphan.

I feel your pain dear friend. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

patricia said...

I have no idea how I will handle it. I'm guessing not very well. My parents have always been very healthy. I've never seen them really sick, ever, other than a bad flu or cold. My father is 76 and travels a great deal all around the world with his wife, and my mother is 70 and still works part-time as a librarian and has a very active social life. They still seem to me to be in their 50's. I think about that inevitability more these days, but it's very difficult.