Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Dad's Journey: A Room with a Different View

It is now a little over two months since the world my dad lived in, ceased to exist. While the past two weeks have not produced any major changes, there are quite a few little ones...and none of them are good.

My mother is with him every day for lunch, my sister-in-law visits mid-afternoon and I take the dinner shift. Dad has no clue how lucky he is to have family visit every day. After a week or so, you get to know a lot of the residents, even if it's just to say hello in the hall. So many have no one. Most are thrilled to have a stranger pass them and ask how they are feeling. The first week I was there, I smiled at a woman as she sat wheelchair bound in the hallway. Perhaps thinking I was laughing at her she screamed at me "this is not funny." Never one to let something like that go, I said "excuse me..." her reply was the same, so I told her I was only trying to say hello. Her face changed immediately and now that woman is the first to greet me everyday. As the weeks go by, it is sad as you watch the visible slide of a few. But it is another chapter of life. This is not an apartment complex, this is where old people go to die.

Dad has a cough now. X-rays showed nothing serious. A lot of small things are bothering him. He is scared because he knows every little setback in his frame of reference, is a big one. We needed to have his room changed this week. His new roommate was a younger man who required the room to be a lot cooler than my father could handle. It is the end of June and he sits in his undershirt, long sleeve t-shirt and sweatshirt...with no AC on. This move has brought on a whole new level of anxiety. The nurses and aides are different. The view out his window does not provide the same view of the birds flying in and out of the trees. No longer can he cope with any change in his routine. From the minute I walk in, he asks about what clothes he will wear to bed and what clothes he will wear in the morning.

His appetite is non-existent. One reason we want someone to be there for every meal, is to be sure he eats...something. Last night, even ice cream...the one food I thought he would never grow tired of, did not bring him any joy.

After my mother's visits and again after mine, we talk of his condition. This past week the description has changed from "he was good today" to "he was ok" and as he was last night, "he wasn't good." There hasn't been a good day in a while. So, you do what you can to make his life tolerable. As he struggles to find the words to explain his problems, you hold his hand and offer as much comfort as you can.  There is no talk of his coming home, he is fully aware that is not possible.

He loves going to therapy each morning, it gives him hope that his body can regain some of its use. He fears, as his body grows weaker, that he will soon need to give that up.

As the weeks turn into months, more and more I miss him. Though I see him daily, any meaningful conversation is impossible. Our family's SOP has always been sarcasm. That is something that now is lost on my dad.  Still, I treasure every visit.

Love you Pops.


1 comment:

  1. never quite understood the meaning of(youth is wasted on the young).now think i ya GIPP