Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Things I think about during the 5 minute drive from my house to my father's house

My dad lives about  a mile and a half  from my house.  When the kids were little it was wonderful to have my parents so nearby and the kids could even walk over to visit once they were old enough to cross the busy street.   Now that my dad is old it is nice that the trip can be made quickly and easily since I often do it multiple times each day.   While on the short drive over there things just pop into my head.

  • I hope that I raised my kids to know that they can live anywhere they want and I hope they realize they have no obligation to me.   That is my gift to them and it was not a gift I was given.   It was always clear to me that the responsibility for my parents would be mine alone.  I am an only child so there is no one with whom to share the burden but more than that, ratings of  "she's such a good daughter" when in reference to other families were only given when the daughter had clearly subjugated her own needs for her parents needs - that she had moved home, that she had quit her job to care for them, that she had been the "good daughter".  So, my attainment of "good daughter" status is clearly dependent on how I handle this last task as I've been unable to get that rating  for anything else I've ever done.
  • When I die I want it to be fast and unexpected.  I don't really want to die of old age and I don't want to get sick and fade away, I just want to be here one minute and not here the next.  It has to be hard for my father who, even though he is in basically good health, knows that he will not outlive his new furnace.
  •  How on earth do people cope with all of this when they have young children or jobs?  I am busy all day long dealing with petty stuff - groceries, checking on him, arranging for maintenance, waiting on the maintenance people, fixing his computer, taking him some supper, fixing his computer (again, and again, and again), trips to the library for talking books, getting him a haircut, going to doctor/dentist appointment, back and forth to church.  The list is endless.....  Although this is not how I imagined spending my time during retirement I'm glad I don't have to squeeze it all in between children and work.  
  • When should I (or has the time already passed) step in and "just say no" to him?  I feel like as long as he is mentally competent that I can't really overrule his wishes.  I just keep working to make things work for him and being thankful that he has sufficient money to cover the expenses.  
  • I know other cultures venerate old people but I don't I think that old people should have any more claim on our time and resources than, say, children, or teenagers, or middle-aged folks.  They have different needs that must be met but why are their needs higher on the scale than those of others?  I don't mean we should put them on an ice flow and let them drift away, but why are we allowing them to suck up all the medical resources when many children can't get basic medical care.   I really dislike the AARP and all their lobbying efforts which don't have any balance on what is good for the entire population.  We have people far more at risk than most of the elderly.  I hate the sense of 'entitlement' that is held by many of the elderly. 
  • I hope I have the good sense to move from my home and make lifestyle changes before my kids have to step in and make me do it.  I have made it clear that I am extracting no promises from them regarding my care.  They are free to step in and make me do it when they think that they should. My mother was blackmailed by my grandmother with the "please don't put my in a nursing home" plea.  And my mother didn't and my grandmother's care was a constant worry.   My father clearly won't make a move to a place where he would be safer and  would provide me far more peace of mind.  He doesn't seem to realize or, maybe more truthfully, care that it isn't only his life he is impacting. 

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