Visit to Dad


My Father’s life at 85
My son and I went to see Dad this past weekend. It is a 3 and ½ hour drive. We took all three dogs with us so we could stay the night without someone coming in here having to clean up after my old dog that cannot seem to make it through the night without an accident anymore. But that is another story. I figured if we were taking the old dog and the Chihuahua, we may as well take Pixie, so we had all three. That took quite a bit of planning. I also shopped and cooked all day Friday so that I could take Dad and his wife a good meal. I made mac and cheese, pureed ginger carrots, sauteed apples and twice baked potatoes. I also made cornbread and a lo cal cheesecake.
The visit went well, I think. I did not feel our being there was too hard on Dad and his wife. That said, the visit was not without its emotional toll. You have to understand that my Dad has sworn off all medical assistance. He says he has had enough intervention. Not that he is without medical problems. Dad’s legs are oozing serosanguinous fluid all the time. It is kind of a pinkish color and has a foul odor. He has very little strength in his legs and almost no ankle movement. His pants legs are drenched with the fluid. He wears some Velcro fastened bedroom shoes that my sister and I ordered on line. He has two pairs because they are washed each day by his wife. He does not walk without a walker or some form of assistance. His mind is mostly good, with some lapses in memory, jumbled time frames and mistakes in events.
Even with the above limitations, Dad wanted to go to a neighborhood market. So, we loaded Dad into my car and I put in a walker they had bought at another flea market. His wife said she did not want to go, she said she did not feel well, but I suspect she was glad for the time alone. I helped Dad into the car as he could not lift his feet without help. I got the serosanguinous fluid on my hands. I did not have any hand sanitizer. The car filled with the foul odor from his legs. Dad did not seem to notice. We drove the short distance to the “market.”
There were only about 4 or 5 booths in all. There were 2 vegetable booths and 2 or 3 junk booths. The junk booths sold old, worn out goods with big price tags. The vegetable booths sold vegetables that the venders had bought from other markets. To me and my son, it was kind of depressing but Dad loved it. He bought large yams and a basket of tomatoes that he did not need. I paid for it because he thought he had forgotten his wallet. He had it in his pocket and I knew it but did not want to tell him so I paid. It was only a few dollars. He walked all around the market and he did not sit down once. When Dad got home, he realized he had his wallet all along and tried to give me a twenty dollar bill. I left it on their kitchen counter.
Later, we heated the food I had brought and ate. The food did not taste that good to me, even though I was hungry. The meal had been so much work and I was disappointed. Even the cornbread was blah and I had put in fresh corn and pimento and green onions. It all looked perfect but lacked taste to me. Oh well.
My Dad’s condition is depressing but he was so glad to see us it made our visit worthwhile. Dad’s wife and I talked about many important things. I found out that she would rather have Dad with her despite the hard work he requires because she still wants to see him. She loves him! If he was in a facility somewhere, she does not think she would see him enough. She and Dad depend on her family a lot for shopping and communication with the outside world. They have Netflix and love movies. She still cooks some and says she feels good and has no real health problems except her vision. She says she can see shapes and blurs. The house is pretty run down but neither she nor Dad can see it. Dad does not seem to realize how bad his legs are. Life is so hard sometimes. All the time, if you think about it. Still, my Dad shows me that it is our attitude that makes the most difference in how we see things. That, and having people around who care about us. Dad is astoundingly happy. It shows in his jokes and willingness to try and get by despite obstacles that would make most people give up. I believe there is a lesson here. The visit was painful for me but I tell myself “it is not about you!”

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5 Responses to Visit to Dad

  1. Paul D. Hollifield Sr says:

    One of the things I remember,, Uncle Sam though me was how to make Home Made Banana Ice Cream. You, I and Robin had went horse back riding on Socks, and when went back to your house that evening , Uncle Sam said he was going to make some Ice Cream, so I wanted to help and I did, but the secret to he’s Ice Cream was the Bananas, they had be be ripe Bananas, the skin almost brown, oh yea Grandmother Wash was there visiting as well, miss those’s days, love ya Couzit.

  2. A cathartic response to a difficult weekend. Watching parents in ill health is one of the hardest parts of us growing older. No one dares to tell us this or we’d run the other way.
    Thanks for writing this. I was thinking about my Mom today and how I must have been in denial when she was so ill. I think it was my minds way of protecting myself.
    There are lessons in all of this. Some we learn afterward.
    Hugs my friend!

  3. Virginia Venn says:

    How do we deal with ageing parents with love and care. How to go on even as they get older and things are not as pleasant as we would like or as perfect as we would have them. Every day with them, no matter how hard it is, is better than any day without them. When they are gone the memories of what we had to do go away and what remains are the good times. The past far out weighs the hard times. Plus think of it this way how many diapers did they change for us how many miles did they carry us, How many times did they clean us up from one sickness or other. All usually done with a hug and a smile. And a few words it will be okay. If they have done there job well, we will be able to do ours as well. No matter what there condition they are our parents, and after they are gone we wonder why was out time so short. Count everyday a precious, look for the good in the visit not the negative. It also helps to put a little vicks under your nose if smell is a problem. Karen thanks for posting the picture of your dad we miss him and wish we were closer. love always Virginia

  4. Sky says:

    nice story

  5. Pat says:

    Reading your story today opens a door for me to walk into seeing others dealing with aging parents and how they are handling the paths we are given. Thank you for your post.

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