Trauma is a term we often hear talked about in communities of color and the LGBTQ community. There is an entire body of knowledge about how to support individuals who have had trauma. But what is trauma and how ordinary is it?Continue reading
I have a vivid memory of a birthday when I was around eight years old. I had gotten a brownie camera that morning, a birthday gift from my parents. I was excitedly running around the house taking pictures. Suddenly dad was angry at me. I had done something wrong in the eyes of my father. I was never exactly sure what I had done. He got angry at me, threatening some kind of punishment. I remember being very hurt that my father was yelling at me on my special day. There was something about me that could bring out my fathers anger, even thought I knew he loved me.Continue reading
In the early 1970s, the choices for my life were stark. My father showed me a model of the rugged individualist. Then there was my attraction to men and the life that homosexuality seemed to promise. Neither was what I wanted. Continue reading
My father died last month at the age of 92 after a very long decline. He had no chronic condition but six-years ago had a heart valve repair surgery from which he never fully recovered. The rate of his decline was so slow that his caregivers and I were surprised that he did not pass away years ago. Over a period of six years, he slowly made his way towards death. Continue reading
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.
There has to be a better way to grow old.
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.