Dealing with an aging and ailing parent can be heartbreaking. If you have dealt with this situation, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have not, unfortunately it will probably happen in your future. I wrote the piece today over the past several years as my Father has aged. He has been in and out of the hospital, home, and a short-term care (rehab)/long-term care facility over the past two years. With his condition, we have had to seek out outside help and care. It is so very hard leaving a parent in the hands of someone else, but just necessary for their safety in many cases. In today’s world, there are dependable professionals and then there are those not so dependable. The emotions that overcome you as you kiss them goodbye and head of the facility can be overwhelming. Even if you know it is the right place and safe place for them.
The most difficult thing is knowing and seeing the man that was a strong worker, the man that could hook a worm blindfolded, the man that could give you right advise always, or the man that could cook a roast like a five star chief, can now barely get his socks on, barely walk alone, or has difficulty shaving and bathing. I realize, as you do, that this is a true, but sad part of life. However, this does not make the hurt and pain any better. As I have experienced all of this and had to go through parenting my Dad, I truly believe the most important thing has been treating him with dignity. No matter what he can or cannot do, he absolutely deserves the respect for living this life as hard as he could.
My Dad’s situation has been different from my Mom’s situation. The Alzheimer’s took my Mom mentally and physically a little piece at a time. We treated her with dignity although the situations were very difficult. We were just more in a necessary control because she just was not in reality. The key there is we, my Dad and I together. However, my Dad is really bright and on top of conversations and thoughts, but his body is just failing him. I have included him in all decisions. I have kept him up on all family business, decisions, and happenings. I have ask his advise about issues. I have shown him the respect of having control of his own life. Most of all I have gained so much from our conversations about life and just being. Those are moments and times that are sacred. I hope today you can understand that you are not alone in going through this life process. Read with me and see if you have experienced the same feelings, and if you have not been through this yet, I hope you can gain hope in knowing it is ok to have these feelings. Also know there is help and others to lean on. It takes a village to care for the caregiver—reach out to your village!
Living With Dignity
Sometimes I feel I want him to live more than he wants to live.
Live for yourself.
Don’t give up!
I just want you to live so you can come home.
You can be with us to laugh and smile.
To feel the breeze, touch the sun, and sit with the dog.
I get mad at him.
The guilt arises about everything within my heart and mind.
One guilt thought leads to another.
Why have I not done more?
Why am I not doing more for him??
How could I leave this man?
He has held me when I was scared.
He has always loved me.
He has lifted me to greater heights than I knew I could go.
Why would I have some else care for him?
The guilts turn into pain.
Pain of loss and grieving.
I get mad at You God.
Why God would You let existence come to this?
Why would You take the dignity out of his life?
God, I have to place blame.
But I know this is not right.
He taught me that You love us always and only want the best.
It hurts to see one that you love go through pain and struggle.
It hurts when the solutions are not comfortable.
Your heart and soul burst open with pain.
I only want to remember him as my strength.
The one who was always there to soothe me.
The one that taught me faith in You God.
I want to remember him as the one who said, “Don’t cry, it will all be ok.”
“This is life and we move forward.” he would say.
He would conclude with “We are strong because of who we are and all we have been given.”
Well this type of living is a bitch!
And I don’t like it!
I want to scream and yell!
I wish the monsters deep in our minds would never come out.
I wish the glitches in our synapses would always work.
I wish our body parts would always do what our brains wanted.
I wish this life would not suck us dry,
Leaving us empty cavities of pain,
Oblivious to who we are.
Most of all I just wish I had my Daddy back.
But I know deep down he may want God more.
I have to accept this as truth.
If he chooses to go or not to with You God,
I know he is the man I have loved.
He is the courageous one.
I will give all I can to provide him with dignity.
He will be respected for the strong man he is.
He will be shown respect by me for the father he has been.
He has shown this bitch of a life who is boss!
He gave his all to this life!
He will leave life with a character that will never be replaced.
Lori Rennae Hickman Chapman
Caregivers take on a whole new world when caring for their parents. It may not be a parent, but it could be a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a sibling. Just know someone else has experienced questions, doubts, concerns, and worries just like you. But most importantly know that God is with you in and through this phase of your life. He knows your true heart about helping and being a servant. This is life’s way of teaching us real dignity. Blessings and love this week—-and some hugs too!