Dad says: “I’m a Little Short of Money”

I just got a call from Dad.  I was out (am out) for my walk so he left me a voicemail.

“I’m a little short of money”, he said.

Of course there was more but this is the jist of it.  Now I don’t know what that means, does he have no money in his wallet, or did he go to the bank and think there was no money there?  Shouldn’t be the latter because I just went online (from my phone, cuz I can) and checked his balance. Inquiring minds need to know.  I’m confused.  I’ll call him shortly to get the lowdown.

I still feel frustration when I talk to him. That alone pisses me off, that I get frustrated, never mind whatever he calls about.  And it’s not like he’s always calling, but typically when he does there’s some issue that needs resolving.  Often it isn’t even an issue but more like a situation where he has something confused.

Look at me, who’s the whiner in this story?  I should be grateful he’s still around. I AM grateful.  We never know what we’ve got until after its gone, that’s a for sure.  He ALWAYS tells me he appreciates me, and whatever small things I can do for him ARE small in the big picture.  Next time I whine slap me upside the head, k?

Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’m sitting here in the coffee shop, smelling the fresh brew and warm pastries, I love to watch the people.  I think I could study them all day, trying to figure out their stories. Right now there’s a man and small child across from me playing tic-tac-toe.

I think he must be the grandpa, the boy his grandson.  He’s appears to be about my age (old) but you never know these days, it could be a second relationship for him.  What you can tell is that he’s thoroughly enjoying the toddler, and trying to teach him the game.  They chatter back and forth and occasionally I hear a giggle from the boy, or a guffaw from the elder.  There’s pride in the grandpa’s eyes.

These scenes warm my heart.  I think of the future with my grandson, perhaps I’ll teach him tic-tac-toe as well.  Maybe we’ll go for coffee when he gets older.  I hope so.

These situations makes me feel somewhat in limbo land.  I think of my Dad and his needs.  I think of his care, and what his future may hold.  I think of my connection with him, our past.

I also think of my kids, I ponder what could have been with my son Shawn had he not died.  What would we have done together?  How would we have bonded? This makes me sad.

And I think of my grandson, and what our future might look like.  How many things we can do together.  This makes me optimistic and happy.

So it’s about life isn’t it, the past, present, and future.  They are all so important.  How do I connect them?

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I Saw an Old Man Walking

I saw an old man walking today, poking along the roadside, meandering along his path with the appearance of looking for lost items, perhaps bottles and the such. He was dressed for the excursion with sturdy boots, a small pack, and the ever trusting walking stick. He reminded me of Larry.

Larry, my step-father, passed away a year ago March. I think of him often.

Larry would also often be seen strolling slowly down the streets near our home, his home too as he lived with us. He would stop frequently to chat with neighbors, children, or whoever had the time or inclination to visit with him. He was that kind of guy. he loved all, and was loved by all.

I think about him during times when I meet my Dad. They are/were about the same age and they had the distinct luxury of being married to my Mom. That is about where the similarity ends.

20120726-004343.jpgLarry was full of life, even if he had to search it out from the depths of his being. Toward the end it was a struggle for him, he was forgetful and struggled for words. Continuity of thought often eluded him, and he was terrified he was losing his mind, so worried he would get Alzheimer’s the way his first wife did.

He lived with her disease and raised their children while their mother declined. Finally she became too much of a danger to her family, and herself, and had to be hospitalized.

Despite that past, or perhaps because of it, he wanted to live and experience life. Especially he wanted to experience family. There was nothing more gratifying for him than to have all his children come together, nothing that meant more.

My Dad however sees no challenge in life. He is satisfied to sit, nap, watch tv, and take the occasional lunch break with me. He has no desire to build connections with his family or form attachments with his fellow residents of the “Village”. He has little knowledge of current affairs nor an interest in discussing them. Granted he is suffering early symptoms of dementia and has experienced a number of small strokes but these personality traits are not new. More exaggerated now perhaps but not new. Sometimes I’m so afraid because I’m more like him than Larry.

It would stand to reason of course, I am his blood, Larry was “only” my step father. I am sometimes saddened to say I felt more kinship to Larry as a father figure than my biological Dad. I feel somehow bad saying that. That too saddens me.

20120726-004106.jpgI went in to have lunch with Dad today. During our stroll from the car to the restaurant he said,

“You know who I saw in the mall the other day?”.

I answered,

“Who, Desmond?”,

Des was a co-worker of my Dads.

“No”

he said,

“I saw Larry and Ida”

I was dumbstruck……..Larry was my step father, now deceased, Ida was his first wife who died of Alzheimer’s about 25 years ago. Where on earth was Dad getting this? I didn’t really know what to say so we had some brief discussion about it and moved on. It troubled me.

So I saw an old man walking today. I miss Larry.

Dad’s day

Photo 2012-06-17 10 25 57 PMMy uncle posted a photo on Facebook the other day of my Dad and I.   I was being given a haircut by my Dad when I was about 3 or 4 I’d guess.  I certainly don’t remember the day.

I will show my Dad the pic when I see him today.  I’d be curious to see if he has any recollection of the event at all. Something tells me he won’t, but he has surprised me before and may do so again.

It just depends on how lucid he is on any particular day.

Continue reading Dad’s day

A Rose by Any other Name

20120621-092207.jpgHappy Belated Fathers day to all the dads, or soon to be dads, or wanna be dads.  Any dads are welcome, even pseudo dads.

I’m not sure what made me think of writing about Dads day today and not on Fathers day itself.  Maybe it was busyness, or lazyness, or carelessness, whatever ‘ness it was I am here now.

I have been reminded of the day frequently though as I go about my business around house and home.  I’m reminded when I see the beautiful rose bushes my wife bought me for the occasion.  How many wives buy their husbands roses I ask, and how many of those buy actual rose bushes?  I bet not many.  I am very fortunate for sure.

Another thing that I thought of when posting about Fathers Day were comments made by friends on Facebook.  Essentially they related to passing on well wishes to all the men who provided guidance and love to children, whether their own or others, and mentoring those children by showing them what it means to be a man, and a Father.

Some of these comments were directed to Grandfathers, some to close friends who provided Fatherly guidance in a home where no Father was present.  It applied to the role of Father outside the biological one.

So Happy Belated Fathers day to all those to which this applies.  After all, isn’t a rose by any other name STILL a rose?

Dinner with Dad, et al

We picked up Dad for dinner on Saturday past, and this week we thought we’d try something different and take both Mom and Dad out for dinner at the same time. They have been divorced 30 something years now but have always been able to maintain an amicable relationship, which has been a blessing for us and our family for sure.  Since Larry passed away this past March (Moms husband after my dad) we have still tried to keep up our weekly (at least) dinners or lunches with Mom, even though she lives in the basement and we may bump into to her more frequently.  The sharing of meals just gives us a chance to spend a bit more time with her, something we won’t have forever of course.  She also doesn’t seem to mind being with or around Dad and thanked us sincerely for asking her along.

We went into Trail for Chinese food, it is one of those meals that we don’t seem to have too often, and everyone seems to enjoy it when we do.  We got a large round table, probably big enough for 8, and being only 4 of us we had ample elbow room.  I dished up Dads first, from the buffet, I thought he was the most likely one to complain if he wasn’t happy.  I also got the buffet, but only after serving him his WonTon soup, and also waiting for Mom and Mo to receive their combination dinners.  We all ate with a relish.

Unfortunately the comments didn’t come just from Dad, in fact I don’t recall him really complaining at all except tor some of the buffet food being cold and his meatballs were too spicey.  Not at all??  I guess his complaints didn’t seem to be too significant, or I was too aware of my Moms concerns when her prawns came out with sweet and sour sauce on them, or Mo’s comments that her stomach was upset after dinner, or that the waitress just scraped our leftovers indiscriminately into containers after supper. It garnered a “tsk, tsk”, and a comment “I just won’t eat them now”.   It seemed maybe Dad was the quietest of the bunch.  It just made me not want to go out to dinner again…..

Is that all there is?

This afternoon I will have another visit with Gloria, my counsellor.  I don’t really know what we’ll talk about, it always seems to be a dynamic event.  Sometimes I feel good going in and other days, well, not as good.

I wish I knew how I was supposed to feel emotionally, I mean I know I’m supposed to feel good, normal, or not bad, at least most of the time.  I also know everyone has ups and downs, good days and bad, but without the scale of where the uppermost “up” is I can only tell you where I’ve been. Sometimes that doesn’t seem very far “up”.  I do have days where I feel good, pretty good in fact, is that all there is?

After our session I’ll pick up Dad and we’ll go for dinner.  I’m thinking perhaps Chinese food, it was good the last time we had it and he enjoyed it, but he may not even remember.  I know that sounds kind of callous, but it’s also true.  He forgets more and more now and I’m surprised sometimes that he even remembers my name.  Certainly he’s forgotten when my birthday is, and maybe that’s normal all things considered, he never was a good one for dates.

It reminds me of a time when we went to a family reunion about 25 years ago.  At that time my Dad’s Mom, my grandmother, was suffering from dementia and after we arrived he went into the house to see her.  He came out a short time later and told us she didn’t know his name, she thought that he was her brother.  The similarity in looks was significant for sure but still his heart must’ve been broken.  I know mine would have been.

Dinner with Dad, I’m Sad…I’m Glad!

It has been a while since I’ve spent time with Dad, partly just due to our time constraints, some travel, and that I just plain and simple did not have the emotional energy and fortitude to do it.  Bad Son, I know.

Really though, deep down I know I am not a bad Son, probably on many scales I am a very good son, I just feel bad, and sad, sometimes.  Bad in the sense that I don’t want to see him, bad that I am frustrated when I do see him, angry that I have to see him.  Sadness that I feel those emotions at all.  Boy, where’s the psychoanalysts couch when you need it?

So see him I did.  I drove to his place after work, and I had been planning on going anyway.  In addition to visiting him and helping where I could I also had to deposit a cheque in his account, the rental monies that were returned to him after his place in Langley was re-rented.  His pharmacist had also called me, there was to be a small change made to his meds, the result of his most recent blood tests.  The old meds had to be collected, the change made at the pharmacy, and then blister-packed and returned to his home.  A small to-do list, the least I could do.

After I arrived at his place we checked out his scooter, there may be an issue with one or both of the batteries, they don’t seem to be holding a charge.  I couldn’t see anything obvious but promised to check into it.  At least this time he remembered he had a scooter…….See, there I go again, bad son, Sad, son.

I’m ok, really, it just presents me with some challenges sometimes, being the parent of a parent.  Did I mention it makes me sad too??

We finished our visit by going out to dinner.  We could have stayed and had dinner at the home but I promised we’d do it another time.  I wanted to get out.  Chinese food seemed to be the nourishment of choice so we found a local restaurant where we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  One tiny little woman attended to us, running back and forth to the kitchen so often I wondered if she was doing double or triple duty.  We topped up our tanks, tried to maintain some small talk and once our tummies were full I took him home.

He is so appreciative now, so grateful for my help and commenting often “Thank you Dwayne”.  He says to me “We love you”. I know he means He loves me.  He never said that before we started helping him with his life, never that I can recall as a kid, but he says it often now, so often I have to believe he means it.  That simple statement helps to take the Sad away.  Did I mention it makes me Glad.  Thank You Dad!

Children under the stairs, no more help with Dad

Mo and I had lunch with my Mom yesterday, Sunday being the day we typically try to get together with her, and both Larry and her before that. She does live in the basement, one of the original “children under the stairs”, but she has her space and we have ours so it’s not always that we see her, or get a chance to catch up. Unfortunately she is now the only “child under the stairs”, my stepfather having passed away in March.  I guess she’d not a child either but somehow the whole “under the stairs” thing was designated and has since stuck.

We asked her how her visit was with Dad earlier in the week.  The week prior she had actually offered to take him to lunch as she was going to be in Trail anyway and thought it would be nice.  Even though their marriage has been over for almost 30 years they are still civil and Mom has offered a number of times to help with Dad in any way she can.  Unfortunately that may be coming to an end.

It seems that Dad was not the most optimistic and upbeat lunch companion that we thought he might be.  Allegedly he complained about most of the food and even told the waitress he thought it was terrible.  Mom was embarrassed and as she said “very depressed” when she left.  “I won’t do that again” she said.  I can only hope she means she just won’t take him to lunch again.

He’s not always the most chipper guy when we’ve gone out but I don’t recall him being that vocal nor obviously unhappy with the meal.  It’s possible it was that bad, likely not though, and it’s possible it was more that he reacted that way in a restaurant that Mom and Larry favoured.  Unfortunately my inside voice said “Oh no, how I have to deal with him all alone again”.  I mentioned that I felt that way to Mo, about having to deal with him alone, and she said “We” will have to deal with him, not just me.  It’s yet to be seen.  Makes me sad.

Maybe I Should Write a Book about Dad’s care

So in the ongoing saga of moving my aging father I’ve often thought of writing a book, detailing the steps involved and hoping to help someone else through the process.  That may or may not occur, but in the process of writing this post and looking for photos I came across a site diarizing the tribulations and joy of a man who shared his fathers last days, his memory loss and the sharing of love they felt for each other.

Very touching, bringing tears to my eyes, and how I can relate.

Dad’s condition stable

I called Dad this morning and his slurring seemed more pronounced.  I wonder if it is a result of having additional strokes, or just the dementia taking it’s toll.

We have an appointment with a doctor this afternoon and I’d like to find some way to talk to her privately before or after our joint visit.  It sounds like they have still not gotten his records from the doctor in Langley, or if they have the admin assistant was not aware of it.  The new doctor needs to be aware of the various tests that were done and the results of each if she is to provide good care.  I did make my concerns known when I phoned in and I’m hoping that information has found its way into his file.

The whole circumstance of Dad and his condition is very trying on me, I just want to hide and avoid it all.  Sad think is it will get worse not better, until he finally passes.  He is getting more and more forgettful now, he didn’t remember he had a bank account in Trail and he thought we took his scooter home when it is still there.  It makes me wonder if he should even be going out, if he gets lost he may be a danger to himself or others.  He could end up being one of those people who just walks away never to be found.  Unlikely but these are some of my fears.