Thursday, October 7, 2010

Parenting the Parent

This past week was the first time that I was really a parent to my parent.

I had to explain to my dad why he couldn't drive his car "right now" (He is much too weak from being in the hospital. His reaction time is slower than it should be. We want to keep him safe, etc.) I had to keep telling him what his room number is in his new "home" in the Assisted Living wing at Messiah Village. I had to catch him when he wobbled, coerce him out of bed in the morning, make sure he took his meds, and sit with him so he wouldn't be lonely.

I really didn't mind any of that. What I didn't like was that my strong opinionated dad often looked scared, uncertain, and a little distrusting of me. Six months ago, he had been trying to convince all of us that he should go into the assisted living program at Messiah. Now, he feels as if we are sending him there without his consent.

He did get feisty a few times, which I saw as a good sign. The nurse was  trying to schedule him for his "whirl pool time" (hey, I'll go there!) and he adamantly told her that he couldn't do 11:00 on Friday because every Friday at 11:30 he had lunch with his artist friends. How he thought he was going to get there without a car, I have no idea. But at least he had some spirit and was remembering things!

As I was walking him to the dining hall for his first dinner at the facilities, he turned to me and said, "You know, I'm pretty skeptical about this." I responded with "That's okay, your're allowed to be skeptical".

I know without a doubt that this is what he needs right now. And if all goes well and he regains his strength, he'll realize it eventually too. Just like all of those times when as a kid and I didn't understand why he made me do something I didn't want to do, or didn't let me do something I really wanted to do.

Maybe he'll even thank me for it one day.

Now I even sound like the parent....



Sheila Siler said...

Wow. We never think we'll be at this stage, but here we all are. It's hard becoming the parent to our parents.

Theresa Milstein said...

It sounds like you and your dad are in a tough place. I haven't gotten to this point with either of my parents yet. I hope he recovers enough to be comfortable with his surroundings soon.