Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When You Change From the Daughter to the Parent

I have mentioned that my father is not well. The truth is that he is on hospice and has been so for about six months. He moved in for the winter, but when the weather was better, my husband and I decided that Dad was no longer able to care for himself. That was three years ago. The doctor said Parkinson's and dementia. What an easy thing to say when someone asks, what a horrible disease. Looking back now, I knew there was something just not right. The early morning calls, asking what day of the week it was. The lack of cleanliness. Forgetting to pay the bills. I put it down to his age. He was good at hiding his disease. Would forget to call back, then would say his cell phone battery was dead. Always came to my house, never invited me into his. He insisted that he didn't need help. I insisted he did. Cleaning the house and preparing meals began monthly, then weekly, then daily. My father had been my rock, a single dad of three in the 1960's. His life revolved around my siblings and me. If he was not at work, he was with us. His first heart attack and surgery was at 48. I fully expected him to die after a hard day at work, on his horse or four-wheeler. I would have been crushed and would have missed him terribly. This is so much worse. I hate to watch him slowly waste away, first his mind, now his body. I have become the parent, enforcing the rules of appropriate snacks, what clothes he wears, what time he gets up, what time he goes to bed. Why is life so cruel? Not for my sake, but for his. When he was aware that his mind was slipping, he kept saying that he didn't want to be a burden. Now he is in a world that is clouded and I cannot find the way in. I do not enjoy the role that I am forced to play. I know that what I am doing is right, but it is so very hard. I still want to be the daughter. Hold your loved ones tight, never take anything for granted. Be kind to one another.

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