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My Pop

My dad called us this evening in something of a state because my mom wouldn't get out of bed. Once he had me on the line she got up to talk to me ... apparently she didn't sleep well last night because of back pain and so wanted to spend the day resting, but despite her efforts to explain that to him, he was fretting. That she got up to talk to me helped him feel better, I think -- and that he would go to the desperate measure (for him) of actually calling me for help, impressed upon her how upset he actually was.

You have to understand about my dad, that he was once a very stout workhorse of a man and is not really prepared to cope with being 82 and barely able to lift his own arms. Besides being worried about mom for her own sake, I expect that some of his anxiety comes from the fact that he depends on her for so many of his own physical needs. He is long-used to the role of the provider -- when forced into a role where he's more dependent, he doesn't know how to act. He's certainly not going to say to my mom, "I'm very worried about your health because you won't get out of bed." That kind of direct communication is foreign to him. So he demonstrates it by gesture -- "if you won't get up, I'll call John at you" so to speak. :)

What really got me was that he began to get emotional over the phone. This is my dad, the super-reserved man who sits quietly in the corner and never says anything unless it's the perfect one-word snark. The 1974 edition of the New World Dictionary, under the entry "laconic," had a photo of my dad. When he reaches the point of being demonstrably upset, that is the equivalent of other people wailing and gnashing their teeth.

So I'm worried that the anxiety of getting old is wearing on him. On top of having trouble walking, and on top of the fear of taking yet another nasty fall, on top of the pain-in-the-ass of going to the doctor twice a week and living mostly on pills, he's also trying to come to grips with not being Iron Man any more, and with the knowledge that at 82 he's reached the Sword of Damocles age. He's got a lot to carry, my dad has. Really I'm honored that when he needed somebody to help with the load, he called on me.

Anyway, I talked to mom and made sure she was all right, and I talked to dad and helped get through to him that mom would be okay with a little rest, and told them we'd go and have dinner with them tomorrow to check in on them and generally make sure all was well; they both seemed perked up by that. Compared to what they're dealing with, my own neuroses can easily take a back seat for a while.

-The Gneech


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:54 am (UTC)
It sounds to me when you mentioned "barely able to lift his own arms" that he should turn to a new sort of strength to find "purpose" or something --- mental strength. Maybe he could write a memoir of his exploits in life? He'd not only feel better from reliving his best times, but it'd give him something to focus on, and we both know being a writer is NOT easy. This way he can still continue to be a workhorse. Well, of sorts, I guess.

Lizard Rat out.
Not sure if that made sense in Albany NY
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
I expect his attitude would be, "Uh, I dunno, what do you want to know about?" He's not exactly an ambitious kind of guy. ;)

Dec. 7th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
General props to the tan van driver. always a cool dude in my book. :) -Frisk
Dec. 7th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)
Reaching that age can be tough on people and those around them. All three of my surviving grandparents are over 80, and it's really starting to show.
Dec. 7th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)
My father's mother is in the middle 80s. It showed all at once. First she was a spry, active woman, then BAM, mostly slow, unable to do much and needing care about 75% of the time by my aunt.

Growing old sucks.

Lizard Rat out.
Still Young At 30 in Albany NY
Dec. 7th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
That sounds like what's happening to my grandparents. In the last year or two, they've had things ranging from cataract surgery to knee replacement.

Oddly, the thing that really got to me was hearing my maternal grandmother say she was looking into assisted living communities. I've always known her as a fiercely independent woman who's been living by herself for about 27 years.
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)
My sister wants them to go live with her before taking that route; I'm not sure they could do that without driving each other crazy, but it's hard to say!

Dec. 7th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
My grandmother's too stubborn to be talked into moving in with either of her kids, and would drive them mad. She barely drives any more and hates when we try to bring her places.

I'm still wondering how we're going to get her to any part of my oldest cousin's wedding.
Dec. 7th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
thinking good thoughts for both of them...
and hope that things go well for all of you tomorrow---Thursday...

Dec. 7th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
Re: thinking good thoughts for both of them...
Thanks. :) They were asking about you over Thanksgiving, BTW. :)

Dec. 7th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
I sure wish you the best, and for your parents also.... it's no walk in the park... :| *hugs*
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

Dec. 7th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
let me know if there's anything i can do to help.

Cookies. Cookies can help. Everything's better with a cookie in hand.
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)
Hee. :) Of course my mom's diabetic, so that makes the cookie options limited ... but I know what you mean!

That's why I suggested dinner ... food good.

Dec. 7th, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
Man, does this sound familiar. As you know both of my parents are in their 80's as well and I'm seeing much the same. Dad is mostly over his broken leg from the spring but still not back to where he thinks he should be. I doubt he will ever be totally there simply because of age. Mom is my problem at the moment. Chronic fatigue and not taking care of herself (my opinion) causes both me and Dad lots of concern.

So yeah, I know where you're coming from. It sounds like you've got a plan and I'm glad to hear they're willing to do the outing. It will help everyone out I'm sure.
Dec. 7th, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
From my own perspective, the hardest thing about it is just trying to find new ways to relate to them. The old modes don't work!

Patience and goodwill go a long way, tho, whatever the situation.

Dec. 7th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC)
:::Hugs::: S'about all I can do...
Dec. 8th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
Well it's appreciated nonetheless! ^.^

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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