Thursday, May 11, 2006
Kids shouldn't have to see their parents suffer.
As humans, we all suffer at one time or another. It's the natural course of life. But kids shouldn't have to see their parents suffer. It causes too much pain!

My dad, my sister (to be referred to as Genevieve) and my nephew (to be referred to as Brendan) arrived safely yesterday late morning. When I picked them up at the airport, Genevieve and my dad seemed chipper enough, despite many hours of traveling. Brendan looked tired and acted shy.

I drove them to my house, stopping along the way for a quick lunch. When we arrived at my house I gave them a tour and got them settled. It didn't take my dad long to need a smoke. I made sure he understood that there will be no smoking in the house. I put some dirt and rocks in one of my empty flower pots and asked him to use it as an ashtray. I didn't want cigarette butts littered all over my yard. He complied without protest.

We all sat outside and chatted for a bit, while Brendan played and Snuggle Bug napped. After a while, Genevieve and I left to go pick up the wheel chair that I was borrowing from a church. I was happy when it folded neatly into my trunk. I guess I was expecting a big bulky one, the kind that are used in hospitals. This one is lightweight and compact. Nice!

When we got back, we hung out at the house for a bit longer and watched Snuggle Bug and Brendan play nicely together. My dad seemed to really enjoy watching the kids and interacted with them as much as he could.

My sister decided that our guest room was big enough to accommodate my dad, Genevieve, and Brendan, so I set up the queen sized mattress and the pack-n-play in the spare room. Then we went to our local pizza joint for dinner. It's a few blocks from our house so we walked...well, we walked and pushed my dad in the wheelchair and he took his crutches with him. He seemed to be getting around quite well with his prosthetic leg.

It was while eating pizza that I noticed large purple bruises all over my dad's right arm. When I inquired about them, I learned that he'd fallen at Genevieve's house the night before they left for the airport and since he's on blood thinners bruises show up quickly. They looked nasty!

After dinner, we went home and put the little boys to bed. Both went down without too much fuss. Genevieve wanted to watch a TV show, Oronzo went into the office to continue working on his big project, and my dad went out to have a smoke. I decided to follow him out there to see if he was in the mood to talk.

I was surprised at how much he opened up to me when I asked a few probing questions. I learned quite a bit, most of it rather sad.

I learned that my dad was nervous about this trip. When I asked why he replied, "It's fear of the unknown. I didn't know if I could get myself packed and drive the three hours to Genevieve's house the night before our flight. In the airport I was afraid that I'd delay Genevieve and Brendan during the security checkpoint and make them miss their flight."

"You made it through all of that. You must feel pretty proud of your accomplishments, right?"

"I guess," he replied unconvincingly.

I asked my dad how long he could wear his prosthetic leg before it hurt him and he told me it varied. He admitted that he was hurting a bit at that moment, having worn the prosthetic since 5 a.m. that morning.

"Dad, you can take your leg off and keep it off around the house. We don't mind."

"I'm feeling a bit embarrassed around Oronzo," my dad confessed.

"I understand why you might feel that way, since you don't see him usually but once or twice a year, but please know that Oronzo is a compassionate man and only wants to help. He isn't at all uncomfortable with your prosthetic or lack there of." I'm sure I didn't convince him to see Oronzo in a different light but I didn't know how to do that. I guess it will take time for my dad to work through his feelings of embarrassment and feel more comfortable around my husband.

"Dad, how are you doing in your new apartment? Are you getting by okay?" I probed.

"I'm doing just fine," he sounded as if he was trying to convince himself as well as me. He eventually admitted, "I do feel a bit lonely at times, maybe even somewhat isolated. I may move closer to one of you kids at some point."

I assured my dad that if he chose to move to our state, I'd help him in any way that I could and that I'd love Snuggle Bug to have the opportunity to get to know his grandfather better. I seriously doubt he'd move this far from home, but who knows.

After a bit of silence, my dad surprised me by saying, "Sometimes I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself and I indulge in pity parties."

I didn't know what to say to that so I simply said, "We all do that sometimes." I encouraged him to call me whenever he was feeling down and told him I'd gladly listen. I was amazed that he was sharing as much as he was with me. He's usually not so expressive.

We chatted a bit more and I stressed to him how happy it made me to see him playing with Snuggle Bug. I told him that I regretted my grandfathers passing away before I had a chance to know them.

Then he said the oddest thing, "Unfortunately, I don't expect to live past another five years."

I was floored! Was he feeling so depressed that he was suicidal?

"Are you thinking of doing something crazy, Dad?"

"No. No, not that. I just know that the circulation in my right leg isn't good and there could come a point where the doctors will tell me either I get the other leg amputated or I die. I would choose to die. Loosing my left leg has been too hard. I can't go through that again."

"Do you regret pulling through your strokes last year?" I asked.

"No. I like to think there's a reason that I pulled through, that maybe I have a purpose. I just don't know what it is," he explained.

He went on to explain that he still has a heart condition and that being on blood thinners would eventually take its toll on his body. He just wasn't optimistic that he'd live much longer.

In this bizarre twist of the conversation, we went on to talk about what he wanted for his funeral.

"I want to be cremated and I want an Irish wake. I want everyone to have a good time and I don't want anyone going home sober," he insisted. "I've already made this clear to your older sister and now I'm telling you."

"Okay Dad, whatever you say. I'll make sure it happens that way. But you'd better be around for longer than five years because Snuggle Bug needs to know his grandfather."

"We'll see," was all he would say.

During the course of the hour long conversation, I watched in horrified amazement as my dad smoked at least four cigarettes, one after the other. Is he trying to kill himself by all his smoking? His doctors have told him how harmful smoking is to him, especially now. They strongly encouraged him to quit when he got out of the hospital, but after about two months he started back up again. I know cigarettes are powerfully addicting but after his near-death experience I was hoping he'd be motivated to quit. Apparently not.

The talk with my dad, although a bit strange and sad, was nice. I felt like we connected more than we have in a long time. He went in to bed and I eventually headed to bed myself.

At 2:30 a.m. I heard my dad hobbling to the bathroom with his crutches. He made it in okay but when he came out, he either lost his balance or there wasn't enough light to show him the way and I heard a loud crash! I leapt out of bed and rushed out into the hallway.

"Are you okay, dad?!"

"I'm fine," he said impatiently.

I could see that he was upright on his crutches again so I headed back to my room to give him privacy. Damned if he didn't fall again, once he was in the bedroom! This time Genevieve asked if he was okay, although she was careful not to offer help unless he asked for it. He didn't ask for it. He made his way back to his bed in silence.

I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was racing and I just wanted to have a good cry. I hate seeing my proud father in so much physical and mental anguish! I feel helpless. He doesn't want our help. He doesn't want his kids to see his perceived weakness. He's a very proud man. I'm terrified that he'll fall and split his head open on our tile floors. I'm mortified for him because I know how embarrassing this all is to him. I wish I could take this pain away from him. I'm angry that he has to go through this and that we have to witness it and there's not a damned thing I can do to make it better. Trying to help only makes him feel worse.

I wish my dad could adjust and maintain more of his activeness. He told me himself that as a 61 year old man, he just doesn't have it in him to recover in that way. He misses tinkering under cars, being a part of the local rescue squad, and doing home improvement projects. I wish he didn't feel so resigned to a short life expectancy and a life filled with loneliness. I wish he'd let us help! Since his hospitialization, I try to put myself out there, from long distance, with phone calls and letters and I get little response back, although last night he told me that the phone calls are nice.

How do I deal with this? I've always known that one day my parents would get old and their health would fail. I knew it'd be hardest for my dad. I didn't expect this to happen so soon and I'm unprepared.

I feel like I have to accept that my dad has given up on life and I have to scramble to learn as much about him before he dies, so that I can pass that information on to Snuggle Bug. I don't know my father all that well and, up until now, it's felt safer that way. By keeping my emotional and physical distance, I've prevented him from having the power to hurt me with unkind words or actions.

I think we're going to loose him soon and I'm regretting that I've never really understood him, that we never understood each other. This pains me deeply. Perhaps his trip here has given me the chance for quiet time with him and the opportunity to try to express to him that, despite our past struggles, I do love him and when it’s his time to depart this earth he will be missed.
7:00 AM

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

Oh, I'm so sorry this is happening and at such a young age for your father! I too dread the day when my parents' health truly truly fails. I know it's a part of the natural cycle, but it sucks. Hugs to you, hon.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Overwhelmed! said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Tracey!

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I came upon your blog and started to read it. I think you just put into words what every child fears, seeing their parent in pain. I will say a prayer for your family. (((((((hugs))))))

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous chelle said...

I can't even imagine losing my dad. He is all I have...I would be crushed!

Keep your chin up! You may be right, this may be the perfect opportunity to get to know your Dad better!

I am so sorry you have to deal with this!

At 10:10 AM, Blogger Catch said...

I lost my Dad 14 years ago. He had cancer. He was not always easy to talk to but he was always there for me. I took care of him before he died, and I thought of all the things I needed to say to him, and I made up my mind that I had to do it then or I would never get to do it. Many days I sat on his bed and we talked like adults, (in the past I always felt like the child no matter how old I was) I think I really got to know my Dad at that time and I was so greatful for it. I took wonderful care of him and he just raved to everyone how good of care I took of him. If you have anything to say to him dont hold back. My Dad was never a mushy person, but I wanted him to know how very much I loved him..when he passed away I had no regrets..I had said all I wanted to say..he knew I adored him. I will always be thankful for the opportunity that I had. I think your Dad is lonely and he needs you and your sister...get to know wont be sorry.God bless you all, and happy Mothers day!

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

I just finished posting a long diatribe on how screwed up our family is. Then I random surfed to your blog through CHBM and read yours. Wow.
Your dad just cracked the door open and invited you in - push that sucker open a little bit at a time and make the most of it!
But you're so very right, children should not be placed in your position - I hope to never place our kid in that position. But whatcha gonna do? Roll with it, I guess. And you, Overwhelmed, seem to be rolling right along.
Great post!

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

So sorry to hear about the problems your dad is facing and that he seems to feel he doesn't have many years left; you're right though - as their children we hate to see our own parents suffer. I'm sorry you are going through this now as well. I pray that you both will be able to get the most out of this visit and come to a better understanding of each other, I hope you're both able to make the best of this time you have right now. I've heard a lot of people will videotape their parents or grandparents talking about their lives growing up so they have that piece of history to pass on... maybe you'll have a chance to do something like that while he's there. Hugs to you!

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Kristy said...

thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing this link with me!
I have to admit, i have tears in my eyes after reading your feelings. I can relate to your feelings!! Too many emotions. just too many. your right, children shouldn't have to see their parents suffer. about all I can say right now. Thanks again for sharing!!!

At 2:11 PM, Blogger ^i^Grandparents Cyber Corner^i^ said...

I lost my father last year as well as my mother-in-law. In 2002 my mom passed away before I could get to the hospital to say goodbye, and in 2003 my daughter passed away at only 29 yrs old and she has twin elementary age girls. My husband and I are going through a bit of lonliness ourselves not having any parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles left and it is so very hard to lose a child. We still have two grown children and several adorable grandchildren, and we are thankful to God for each of them. They live in another state and we do not get to see them as often as we want. I too, made peace with my father before he passed. He sounds so much like your father. My father didn't want to go on after the passing of my mother as they were married 55 yrs. It was so hard on him but finally he got involved with his church and made friends. My father always found it hard to express love while we were growing up. He lived several hours away so I didn't see him often but he called nearly every day. I would always try to tell him I loved him before he hung up the phone but he never said anything in return. About a year before he passed, we were talking on the phone and I said "dad, I love you"... and there was this long silence. I again said "dad, I said I love you, did you hear me?" Finally I heard him crying in the background and he said "yes I heard you, and I LOVE YOU too ... I love all you kids and I'm sorry I never told y'all that before". After that point, he sometimes said "I love you" before I did, but I always made sure he knew I loved him and for that, I'm so thankful. I found your blog yesterday while searching adoption and birth mother blogs. God bless you and your family. I will pray for your family. Grandpa and I have a blog, we are newbies though, but hope to add much more as time passes. I have bookmarked your blog and one day I may share another story with you. Hope you will stop by and say "hello" sometime. Forgive the length of my comment. Many blessings, Grandma @ "Grandparents Cyber Corner".


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Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)

Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Why do family visits stress me out?
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 5)
How did this happen?!
What would you pay for an afternoon of pleasure?
Can you hear me now?
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 4)
It's a conspiracy, I tell ya!
Dwelling on Death and Divorce
Ah, the silence of a sleeping child. I think it's...
Ignorant jackass!

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