Posts Tagged ‘Father’

What I Learned Lately From My Father
Nancy Deming-May
September 2012

I guess life is all about learning and some lessons are easier than others. I think we all appreciate what we have gained though we may never want to repeat some of the classes.

I just got back from visiting my father and this is what I’ve learned:

No matter how much you dread seeing them again because of the depressing decline in physical and mental acuity, you get used to it. And the only thing that helps you get used to it is time. The quick ins and outs don’t work – it takes presence – for at least several hours at a time.

After a while, you start to see the humor in them and not just the decline. You also recognize the foundational parts of their being – that are STILL there. You share eye contact and you know it’s still him and you know he knows it’s you. You recognize more of his words and you even have a conversation of sorts.

You don’t have to talk or entertain the whole time. Sometimes it’s fine, even better, to just BE there – holding a hand, patting a leg, rubbing a shoulder. Once you let go of the need for conversation, you start having meaningful presence. He can’t see very well, so those photos you want to show him aren’t so great and that’s okay.

After enough exposure, the smell that brings about such a shuddering dread, is just a smell – without judgment. The drool that was so upsetting at first is just a chin that needs to be wiped – nothing more. The bouts of anger and verbal outbursts are simply exercises in creative problem solving.

The longer you hang, the more you come to know and appreciate the staff and “get” how they can do this day after day. You come to appreciate the handiness of the male nurses that can lift him without assistance. You are amazed at their “toolbox” of ideas to keep him occupied – from putting his wheelchair against the wall and handrail so he can keep attempting to stand up all the while staying close by to keep him safe, the moving from chair to chair, to try and find one that “works,” the vanilla pudding they keep handy in case that will help, and lastly the crushed psychotropic meds to help calm his agitation and anxiety.

You come to appreciate the dedicated spouses that show up day after day and sit with their long-time partners – feeding, pushing, talking or just being with them. They thank you for coming and tell you the good memories they have of your dad.

You feel blessed to share this experience.

Thank you Dad.


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