I have previously written posts about my Pop but today I needed to write once more, so forgive me for not having a ‘cheery post’ to submit tonight. I simply need to be able to talk about how I feel.
I am watching my father decline rather rapidly. It is the most heart breaking thing I have had to witness (apart from having to hold my 16 year old dog as the Vet put her to sleep) and anyone who has cared for their elderly parents will know what I am writing about. This.. this is something almost unbearable to face.
The last few weeks he has been experiencing so much trouble walking, he struggles to actually raise his leg to place one foot in front of the other. His hands also shake uncontrollably and he is embarrassed to eat in public.
Thankfully they are only a seven minute drive from where we live, so I am visiting as much as I can, helping in whatever way I can. Mum is also struggling with walking but currently she is managing better than what Pop is.
They both are so frustrated with life. The last couple of days I have heard mum say, “If I could end this I would, I can’t do what I use too, I hate being this way”. This afternoon around 4pm mum phoned, just as Mr. S and I were heading out to watch a Movie. The call of help – “Dad had a lie down in bed and he is standing but can’t walk”.
Mr. S. and I drove over immediately. Dad was standing holding onto his walker, his whole body shaking. I gave him some pain killers and helped him onto his chair, his middle back and hip are hurting and he has sciatica symptoms. The issue is that he is not walking or able to exercise and his muscles are seizing up. After making sure he was comfortable (as there was really nothing else I could do to help), we went to the pictures (the whole time me watching Oblivion) thinking of how he was. As soon as it was finished, I went back to see him.
He was standing cleaning his teeth holding onto the basin. I asked him if he wanted to get his pyjamas on so he would be more comfortable. Then I changed him, taking off his glasses, his jumper, undoing his shirt and slipping his pyjama top on carefully and very gingerly. I then took his track suit pants off (sweat pants) and put his PJ pants on.
This gorgeous man, my father, telling me it was all right for me to see his ‘privates’, thankfully no embarrassment from his side and certainly none from mine.
Then I gently rubbed some pain cream into his back and put his dressing gown on before helping him back to his chair.
He sat there shaking his head, feeling so depressed about how he had become, how he felt that life was not worth living anymore. This is the hard part, watching the man that you have idolised since you could remember feel that their life no longer holds any purpose. I gave him a sedative, which I told him to take 20 minutes before he went to bed to help him get through the night without pain, I turned down his bed and placed a pillow for him to put his legs on. I gave him a drink of water. I watched as mum put her arms around him and stroked his white hair with tears in her eyes saying “We are here for you”. It is so hard to be strong in front of them, I turned my head not to show my tears. He replied “My girls”.
I have tried to talk them into moving into an Aged Care facility, but mum unfortunately is being a little stubborn and refuses to move anywhere. Granted uprooting yourself from your family home at their age is a difficult proposition. I worry constantly about how they are coping and I feel guilty that I am not there 24 hours a day to help and support them. My life is now centred on being there for them whenever I can, this is what a child should do, as our parents age, we are the ones who then have to nurture them, as they did for us all those years.
I wrote a card for Pop some time back and he must have misplaced it and I found it on his bed head this afternoon. I wrote what I thought of him as a father as a man as an individual. This soft spoken caring human being who has never said a wrong word about anyone in his life, who has always tried to be there for everyone is now in need of my help. He said “I read your card Ginger” (my nickname) you have a way of making a grown man cry”. I just hugged him and tears came to both of us. I sat in front of him and told him I know how frustrated he must be feeling and that he has to think that now he is in this stage of his life that he is limited with what he is able to do. I told him not to get depressed about his situation or mums, but to try each day to simply do what they can and what they aren’t able to do, I am there to do.
I fully understand why the elderly want to pass from the earth plain, to obtain relief from their suffering, from the embarrassment that they feel of no longer being fit and able without requiring or asking for help. It’s humiliating for them. For so very long the mere thought of either of my parents passing has made me almost physically ill. No one wants this, no one wants to say goodbye to those that they love. Now though I understand, when I watch them, barely able to walk or in pain, now I understand…it terrifies me beyond belief, this is something I hide in the back of my mind wishing for it to go away, to bring me back the parents that I had, for their sake not for mine. Sadly I know this will not happen and they will decline further and all I can do as their daughter is to be there.
We can say they have a ‘good innings’ but that does not bring me comfort.
If I could be by their side all day to help them I would, but as I am working now it is an impossibility. Tomorrow morning I am going over to do the weeding and mow the lawns and just be with my mum and dad.
Oh my darling Pop I wish that you weren’t facing this part of your life as you are, knowing that you were once able bodied, I understand how this must be tearing you apart inside.