I'm going to be like you, Dad. You know I'm going to be like you.

It's strange, and kind of scary, watching your parents age. Seeing them ask for help with things they never needed help with before. Watching them try to do things that they probably shouldn't be doing, but you can't be the one to tell them to stop. They are, after all, your parents. You can't tell your parents what to do, even if you do have the best of intentions.  The role reversal is...humbling in some ways.  Like, noticing that the house is a mess, knowing it's a mess because Mom's always at work and Dad's too weak to do much of anything, but feeling like you might somehow insult them if you point it out by trying to straighten up.  Or worse yet, you take it upon yourself to clean up, only to have money thrown at you for work you never intended to be paid for.  It's amazing how much like his father my father has become.  Grandpa, who would insist on paying me $20 for mowing his postage stamp sized inner-city lawn.  All 15 square feet or so of it.  Of course, 15 square feet took me almost an hour, since Grandpa insisted on using an electric lawn mower, and he'd unplug it approximately every 7 seconds, to remind me about the poison ivy, or the rock in the lawn, or because he decided I was going to run over the cord (even though I never once did).  If I flipped his mattress or washed his dishes, I was guaranteed another $10 or so that I never asked for or expected.  If he had to be somewhere, like a Dr's appointment or shopping, I would drive to his house, and we'd take his car for whatever errands needed to be run.  Upon returning to his house, he'd ALWAYS hand me at least $20 for gas.  "But Grandpa, we didn't USE my gas, we took your car!"  "You drove here, didn't you?  You still have to drive home, right?"  So, $20 gas money for 8 miles round trip.  More than a decade ago, when gas was still affordable!

Taking care of Dad this week has actually thrown me back in time a bit.  A bittersweet sense of deja vu.  He's aged so much in the past few weeks, lost so much weight, he even kinda looks like Grandpa now, but with smaller ears.  His hearing is going, so I find myself doing the "Deaf Grandpa shout" more often than I'd prefer.  Repeating myself because Dad doesn't want to admit his hearing's going, too stubborn (just like his father) to go get fitted for a hearing aid.  (No, Grandpa, I didn't say Social Security paid for my parking, I said I know one of the security guards from high school, and he lets me park for free.  Why the hell would Social Security pay for my parking?)  The drive to and from my parent's house costs me 2 gallons of gas.  Two gallons!  Apparently that earns me $40 gas money AND a carton of cigarettes.  Not to mention all the coffees, sodas, sandwiches, and whatever else he decided we needed to stop for in our travels.  (Grandpa, it's 97 degrees out, are you SURE you want to go out and get homemade soup for lunch?)

I'm complaining, but I'm not.  I really appreciate the money, but I don't want my father to feel like he has to pay me to help him.   I understand it better now than I did with Grandpa, realize that it's his sense of pride, and that since he feels helpless due to his failing body, money is the only thing he's capable of contributing at times.  I also learned last time around to not argue, just take the cash and say "Thanks", because somehow, inexplicably, arguing with Grandpa over how I didn't want or need his money only earned me MORE money.  I still can't rationalize that.  And, he was sneaky about it, he'd slip it in my glove box when I wasn't looking, or put it in my purse when I went upstairs.  So, just like I learned to do with Grandpa, "I stashed the bill in my shirt", smiled, and thanked him.  What else can you do?  

   

   

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It's funny, because I'm starting to see so much of my Grandpa in him, and at the same time, I'm starting to see myself, too.  Hopefully *knock on wood*, I won't have the hearing loss, no sign of it yet, but phrases, mannerisms, the way I inflect certain words and expressions, it makes me take a step back at times.  

Grandpa started to lose his hearing in his mid fifties or so, and by the age of 60, was forced into retirement because of it.  He wouldn't give in and get an aide until he was almost 70.  Dad just turned 60 in March.  Every time I go over to the house, I swear the TV's just a little bit louder than it was last time.  Kind of makes me wonder if I have 10 more years of shouting to look forward to.   All in all, though, there are worse people I could see myself turning into. 

As for the helplessness, we're hoping it's temporary, that his strength will return now that he's through the worst of it all.   He's had prostate cancer for the past 12 years or so, but this past year or so of treatment has pretty much kicked his a$$.  He's been on and off of chemo, then started radiation.  We're all firmly convinced that they overdosed him with the radiation, that's when all the trouble started.  He has "hot spots" in his back and shoulders, and they were zapping one of them from the front and back.  Around his next to last treatment or so, he started blistering on his chest, right by the X where they hit him with the beam.  Wicked blisters, like the worst sunburn you've ever seen, and then some.  Well, turns out, those blisters aren't just on his chest, they go down his throat and esophagus as well.  So, eating has been challenging, and there have been a few trips to the ER for dehydration recently.  Some days he can eat, other days his throat hurts so much he just gags and can't swallow anything.  If it continues, his gastro wants to put in a PEG until the throat heals, but he wants no part of that.  In the meantime, it's all the Ensure he can drink, yippee!

 

"We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon

And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden"

I liked reading this. My dad is getting up in age now too, of course we tend to live into our 80's. I'm a lot like my dad in several ways. I see him as a window to what I'll be like when I'm old. It's not so bad. He has trouble hearing but did have surgery several times to no avail. I have hearing loss but that's foolish teenage years stuff. It's odd to think of my dad as becoming helpless because he's always been so strong. It happens to us all I guess. 

I don't want to die without any scars. 

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