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 →
In my early 40’s, I began to experience difficulty urinating. I learned from a urologist that I had BPH, Benign prostatic hyperplasia. BPH is a benign growth of the prostate, that, over time, as it continues to grow, makes it harder and harder for a man to pee. A man’s prostate, like his ears and nose, continues to grow as he ages. Ok, who designed this system? BPH effects most men at some point in their lives.
Today is the anniversary of my grandmothers death. She died March 4th 2004 at the age of 100. Tomorrow I will visit her grave, a ritual I do whenever I am in South Florida. She is buried next to my grandfather, whom I never knew. My grandfather died five years before I was born of a massive heart attack. Continue reading →
After traveling to New York City on Amtrak I headed for the F subway train, carrying my suitcase and backpack up and down the stairs. I got off the F train at the Lexington avenue stop and followed the signs to the uptown 6 train. The signs took everyone to a narrow broken escalator that looked to connect us the the floor above. Once I started climbing the escalator stairs I realized the climb was much more than I had thought, at least three or four flights of stairs. The escalator was too narrow for me to stop, with a long stream of people behind me, so I kept going and trudged up the stairs with my backpack and suitcase. My left knee tweaked with a bit of pain and I began to breath heavily. Maybe, I thought, I should remember my age, 59 years, before I start climbing stairs like a twenty year old. I swatted away the thought and kept climbing.