Sunday, March 16, 2014

Taking Care of Dad

It’s Sunday morning and My Dad’s live-in caregiver has the day off. I will be leaving soon to spend part of the morning with him. Pam is busy making homemade cinnamon buns, scrambled eggs and bacon for me to take to him in hopes that I can get him to eat a decent breakfast. His appetite hasn’t been great recently. Actually nothing about his condition has been great lately. A recent fall has been a setback. Each week brings some new reversal of fortune, but that’s how life works when you’re 89 I suppose.

I will leave him around 10 or so once he’s settled down in his trusty recliner. Then for lunch Pam and I will return with Paula and Ron for a St. Patrick’s Day lunch of Irish Soda bread, potato soup, corn beef and cabbage. Since Dad eats anything put in front of him, he will make an attempt, but probably finish only half of it. He will enjoy having us at the table, listening to the conversation, but adding little to it. His voice has gotten weaker lately. Conjuring up the words has become a labor. Everything is a labor.

After lunch, we will get him resettled into his chair and spend some time trying to get the DVD player to work. He likes to watch old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, The Waltons and Andy Griffith, great taste, my Dad. At some point he will doze off. We will leave around 3 or so, then Christina will walk over to check on him, and a couple of hours later Bill will arrive to see to it that the DVD player either gets fixed or replaced. Bill will bring Dad’s supper, and stay with him until he’s down for the night.

This is how we care for Dad. It has been 21 months since Mom passed away. Dad has required increasingly specialized and more intensive care. My incredible family has somehow figured out a way to provide it. Whether it’s his sisters, Nancy and Emma spending a Saturday afternoon talking about the old days, or Donnie calling him from Maryland every single day, it has been all hands on deck. Orchestrating it all has been my sister Linda, who with the tender mercies of a saint has organized it all.

We have not always agreed on how best to care for Dad, largely because we’ve never done anything like this before. None of us except Linda has any expertise. But we all agree that our Dad deserves our best efforts. When God finally decides to allow him to be reunited with Mom, we don’t want to have to deal with regrets.

So, Pam is downstairs whipping up cinnamon buns and trying to figure out how to transport scrambled eggs properly in a container that I can pop into the microwave to rejuvenate them when I get there. No way in the world she would let me make bacon and eggs by myself on Dad’s stove. Bad appetite or not, he doesn’t deserve my cooking.