I resisted the urge to cry as I said goodbye, walked down the long corridor to my car and pulled out of the assisted living facility where we had spent the day moving my dad into his little apartment. Actually, I think I was too tired to cry if that's possible, or maybe I just wouldn't let my mind go to the little corner of self-doubt that tried to force its way to the front of my heart. Had we done the right thing? Will Daddy be okay? Will he thrive? That was my greatest hope as I drove away. I felt like a young mother leaving her child at preschool for the very first time, hoping and praying that they will do well, be accepted and make new friends. I thought to myself I'll think about it tomorrow when my brain is functioning at 100 percent. Right now only a Chick-Fil-A ice cream will help me feel better!
Being a couple who flips houses for part of their living, we agreed that the move was actually the easiest one ever. If they could all be that easy! We had one single bed, a club chair, Daddy's old recliner, several small tables and spare chairs, a dresser, a small refrigerator and microwave, and exactly five Rubbermaid containers with clothes and miscellaneous incidentals. It took the total of maybe one hour for the guys to load it and then move it all in. But setting up this little apartment for Daddy marks a new era in his life...losing a great part of the freedom he has known for 70 years. We are fully aware that it could go one of two ways. He might not like it. Gone are the days he can just hop into his car and drive to the grocery store. Gone are the days that he can cook his own meals, do all his grooming on his own, or just basically lock himself away from everyone if he wants to. He will be constantly checked on, constantly interrupted from his TV-watching, constantly reminded to bathe, dress, and come to the dining room for meals. But he may just love it. The bright side is he will never be alone (which he's made crystal clear he doesn't like), he will have someone checking on him to make sure he has assistance for anything he needs, he will be prepared three healthy meals a day, will have help in bathing, grooming, and dressing. Much to my delight, he will also have someone who administers his meds every single day at the same time consistently. I am at peace.
Over the past 14 months since my mother's passing, caring for my dad has been mostly the duty of my brother. But all three of us (my siblings and I and our spouses) have truly felt like new parents trying to figure out on the fly how to care for this wonderful human being. But the weirdest part of caring for an aging adult is that this is the person who once made sure you were safe, who spent his hard-earned money to make sure you were cared for, and to whom you looked for wisdom and advice when you needed it most. I have found that aging adults are much like those preschoolers in quite a few ways: They many times want their way and act out if they don't get it, they like junk food sometimes more than healthy food, and they believe they are able to do so much more than they actually are. Just like a small child, they need to be protected, handled with tough love, and reminded every single day that what you do for them may not be easy but it's because of your great love for them that you have to make hard decisions for their well-being. Overall, my dad is a pretty compliant kind of guy, and he knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that his children love him intensely. Having to give up his freedom and car? Not quite so easy. But one thing remains true. You have this wonderful man who still has plenty of wisdom and sound advice to give, and we are so very blessd to be able to tap into the vast well of his lifetime experience.
One of the perks of my dad's new home is the many things planned in which he is able to participate. There is a vast array of appealing activites for older adults: weekly movies complete with AYCE popcorn, concerts, exercise classes, outings to various attractions, and regular social hours to name just a few. Daddy can have his hair cut on the property, shoot a game of pool in the billiard area, and settle in with a good book in the library. There are several beautiful common areas if he feels like socializing. And because he is now closer to my home, we can visit more often and with a higher quality. In the past year, a visit to his home had me weighed down with all the many chores that needed to be done that Daddy now struggles to complete without my mom. I look forward to picking him up for lunch at his favorite restaurant some days (Kentucky Fried Chicken!), taking him to the local Wally World for his shopping needs and of course bringing him home with me for the occasional family weekend. But in between those times, he is safe and sound. In a couple of weeks, daddy will turn 89 years old. So at the ripe ol' age of almost nine decades, he is beginning again.
As moving day brought many new changes to ponder for both my dad and myself as well, we have some very early signs of just how this might go. After my hubby took daddy down for a game of pool so that Hollie and I could finish up our careful arranging of what we believe is his "well-appointed" bachelor's pad, my hubby had to run out to his car for something. Upon returning, he found my dad had strolled over to a table where three women were playing cards and had engaged them in conversation. He also attended the exercise class his first morning there. Whuuuut? Are you kidding me?!!
I think my daddy is gonna be JUST FINE..
Posted by CC
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