My two brothers and I, with our children, have all descended on the Florida town where my parents are renting an apartment for the winter. My mother’s desire to take my father, who at 90 years of age, is wheelchair bound, out of the apartment for meals, movies, and tonight for s’mores, knows no bounds.
Whose life is this anyway? I went from living my new gay life with a sense of freedom, joy, and fun to caring for my wife who was dying of cancer, caring for my father who is dying of old age, caring for my son who found himself accused of hazing, and working with my siblings to clean up my fathers estate, which is a mess.
My father, at 90 years old, is at the end of his life and can no longer do, what the health care industry calls, “the activities of daily living”. Dad can not walk unassisted; needs to be catheterized to pee; needs someone to wipe him after going to the bathroom; needs help dressing and getting up or down from a chair; needs to be held while he walks so that he does not fall. The last activity of daily living which he still can do is to feed himself, but even that function is rapidly fading. He is sleeping fifteen to eighteen hours a day. The one good thing about this part of his life is that he is not in pain and seems happy.
My grandfather was, what they used to call, a natty dresser. Natty is an old fashioned term for someone who is smart and fashionably dressed. My grandfather was always beautifully groomed. There are movies and photographs of him and my grandmother visiting our home for birthdays, holidays, and other events. He was usually dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and bow tie. He was a tall, thin man, who was mostly bald when I knew him, with gold wire rimmed glasses and a cane to help him walk. Continue reading →
I am flying home after a short trip to Florida to help out my aging parents. How did the weekend go? The answer depends on how you see the world. Mom says, “Doesn’t dad look healthy? He’s doing so well, except that he can’t walk.” My brother, who came last weekend, says, “He just needs more PT to be stronger and he will soon be walking again.” My sister, who has made multiple visits to help my parents, says, “Dad is declining fast.” Continue reading →