I always said I could write novels about life with my father (LOL). Shortening it was tough, but here it is.
First a quick bit of history so you will understand better how and why I have changed, and how and why I have opened up to forgiveness.
Growing up with my father was not easy. He was and still is the epitome of sarcasm, is overbearing, manipulative and quite a "game player." My mother and I put up with much emotional abuse from him for years, she being a quiet person and finding a way to take it. Once I reached high school
I found I could match his sarcasm and temper, which led to constant fights between us. I was merely sticking up for myself and my mother, with my resentment towards him building. He found fault with everything we did and seemed to be totally unreasonable. I soon learned he did not want me to have any semblance of a life and resented me terribly for rebelling and doing as I pleased.
At 21, I married the man of my dreams. We bought a house a couple of years later, and let my mother move into our basement suite so she would not have to give up her dog in moving to an apartment. Doing this I think made my father come close to loathing me, but I didn't care. It was so nice to see my mother relaxed and enjoying life once again. The stress and tension of living with him had taken such a toll on her.
The next few years went smoothly, and I had minimal contacts with my father. He sold the family house, moved into a seniors' complex, and continued to spend his days at bar drinking. I did notice some confusion on his part when we would talk.
In 1993, shortly after his mother passed away, I noticed even more confusion and more drinking. In the fall he suffered a stroke, and was also found to be having seizures and hallucinations. His neurologist said he had infarct dementia brought on from his stroke. After several weeks in the hospital and then a Rehab Center he was sent home, with me in charge of doing his meds.
I found myself trying to care for someone who was stubborn and uncooperative, someone I'd never gotten along with, and someone who was trying to sneak off to drink at every opportunity. His forgetfulness was getting on my nerves and his 10 plus phone calls a day were very irritating. He felt he had to know where I was and what I was doing every moment of every day.
I finally decided I needed to educate myself better about his problems so I took out every library book I could find on Alzheimer's and dementia and read them cover to cover. I understood the disease better but it really did nothing for me in my attempt to control my frustrations with him.
Several times he was not home evenings when it was time for his meds, so we would have to "barhop" until we found him. My temper was not doing well.
Mixing the meds he was on with alcohol left him a disgusting mess (literally). Sometimes the beer caused him to lose bowel and bladder control.
Time went on and he landed in the hospital again, this time to have his gall bladder removed. The resident social worker there, upon finding out I was doing everything for him (meds, meals, housekeeping, etc.) was livid. Thanks to her and a family doctor/homecare meeting she set up, my dad finally agreed to some Home Care assistance and meals taken in the cafeteria at his complex. What a relief...to finally have some help!
I believe now this all came about for a reason as I found myself thrown into the role of 24/7 in-home caregiver for my mother a couple of years later, and there would have been no way I could have also kept up caring for my dad properly. He was so stubborn about getting Home Care at first but now he is really enjoying the nurses and home health aides.
Having both parents elderly and with serious medical conditions scared me. I'd always been close to my mother, but it saddened me that I had never had any sort of closeness with my dad. Now because of my caring for my mom,
my dad was resenting me even more, as the time I could spend with him was very limited.
In October 2000, my dear mother passed away. I felt I needed to share or do something with my experiences to help others caring for loved ones, so Ivolunteered at Empowering Caregivers. This site and Gail have made such an impact on me, and more importantly on my relationship with my father. I shall always be grateful.
Gail has made me see things such as choices, how past issues can be dealt with and overcome, how NOT to be made to feel guilty when you KNOW you are doing the best you can (to name a few). I have gotten past so much pent up anger and my relationship with my dad is getting much better with time. He seems to be following my lead with the changes I have made in my attitude towards him, and things are improving. We can finally talk more, and even laugh together at times. It is a nice feeling. Sometimes he forgets we talked or what we talked about, but that is not important. It is what is happening "at the moment" that is what it's all about.
When and if the time comes that he will need more care, I am even entertaining the idea of taking him into my home and providing this care, something I would never have thought of doing a few years ago.
I know a lot of children who are caring for an elderly parent are going through much of what I did, and are feeling at a loss and terribly frustrated.I do hope you will try to follow what this site promotes...about choices and opening up...It does work. Trust me. :)
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