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Posts Tagged ‘Parent’


MY 94-year old father was released from hospice care today because he’s just doing too well to qualify for that designation. His life in the nursing home will continue as usual, only now there’s no extra nurse, aide or social worker checking in. I get it and I’m actually rather hopeful that the doctor is adhering to the rules of Medicare and the spirit behind those rules. Although nobody can predict how long my dad will actually live, they also can’t limit it to the 6 months required by the Feds. I’m hopeful because the news is filled with too many stories of Medicare and Medicaid fraud it worries me that the health care marketplace is fraught with tricks and loopholes to bleed money from the government and us taxpayers. It’s nice when I see the law adhered to.

So my father is off hospice but still stuck in the nursing home he hates. Now I’m talking about a gold star nursing home with amenities to match. Book clubs, sports groups, activities, musical concerts, religious services and beautiful grounds that he can see from his private, spacious room. He’s stuck because that’s how he sees it. He’s no longer able to walk to the parking lot, get in a car and drive home. And none of his kids will do it for him. He doesn’t participate in any of the activities other than services and the periodic entertainment.

He’s been there for more than a year and I really don’t think he hates it anymore. He’s adjusted, knows the people, enjoys some of the food and complies with the regimens. He’s clean, is well groomed, has gained weight and is the epitome of robustness for a 94-year old man who’s been disabled by a stroke 25 years ago. Left to his own devices, which he desperately yearns for, none of that would be true. It’s the rules and the regs that bother him the most. He feels like he’s in prison, and he’s right. He’s being held somewhere against his will and that’s the ultimate in lack of control, especially for a very controlling person who’s quite macho and has always been in charge.

He’s sad a lot and lonely and that makes us, his children, equally hurt for him. We can’t fix it. We’ve sent in a social worker and rabbi to see if they can help him adopt a different attitude. Sometimes it helps but only temporarily. We’ve explained how he requires the care of skilled people more regularly than he can receive at home. And how he’s actually less lonely than he was in his bedroom where he interacted with many fewer visitors and just his TV for entertainment.

My father thinks his daughters have betrayed him, that we’ve turned our backs on him now that he needs our help. That he financially and emotionally supported us as children and provided a comfortable livelihood so we could enjoy what we were provided. He is unable to consider different points of views outside himself. His heart won’t allow it and his pride won’t release. As he sees it, he is the rooster and we are the eggs and we need to do what he wants as he did when we were children.

That makes us sad too for we haven’t betrayed him. Quite the contrary. Each of us plays a role in my father’s life at the nursing home. One sister closely monitors his care there and takes care of his domestic needs. One overlooks his finances. The third sister researches the law, his business history and gives him feedback and the last cheers him up, makes him laugh and brings him her delectable dishes. He knows it, and doesn’t notice it. That’s just a given; we’re his daughters.

It’s a learning experience for us all. He has to accept life as it is and we have to live with the knowledge that we’re keeping him where he doesn’t want to be and doing our best for him in the background.

Sigh …

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According to a news story I just read, boomers are apparently the new favored children when it comes to divorce these days.  Their break up rates have more than doubled over the last decade and researchers expect that percentage to increase.  Right now one out of 4 divorces is a couple over 50.  To some extent, that’s surprising information.   After-all, you’d think that after so many years of understanding each other’s hot buttons and living through the early career days and the challenges of raising children that it would now be time to rediscover the reasons you fell in love in the first place.

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

Image via Wikipedia

From a different angle I think it’s cause for celebration.  Looking at it through a woman’s eyes (why not?), we are not the women our mothers were.  Societal expectations are, thankfully, different.  Career opportunities have expanded over the years for women and a lot of us are financially independent and independently minded.  We’re not looking for men to “take care of us,” but instead, to be friends with us.  Confidantes.  Lovers.  Sounding boards. And if that’s not working anymore, then it’s time to move on.

My parents separated when I was 15 and it was a subject not discussed outside the house.  It was taboo then and it made me feel like our family was the pariah of the neighborhood.  I adopted other families to hang around and fantasize about what a happy family would actually feel like.

One particular favorite couple was my girlfriend’s parents.  After synagogue on Friday night we’d walk back to their house to commence a weekend filled with family activity.  I loved her parents; her father was always flirting with her mother and it seemed to me like he adored the pants off her — literally.  We all read books together in the evening and her parents would engage in actual conversation about those books and even current events of the day.

Many years later when my girlfriend and I were grown and catching up over breakfast one day she said that her mother had “finally divorced her father.”  I was stunned silent, left with a gaping mouth full of bagel and cream cheese.  Shock soon gave way to deep sadness.  WHAT??  My heroes?  My role models?  What happened?  She laughed and said that the “lovey dovey act” was for my benefit and her mother would role play until I went home on Sunday afternoon.  That for years they weren’t getting along and that she’d finally found the courage to say no more.  My friend knew I’d be in shock, but it was time I found out.

That moment marked my rude awakening to the realization that people stayed together for the kids and endured the misery of their lives together until it could be changed.  And it was also the moment I was grateful for my mother’s personal truth of “no more.  This isn’t what I want and so I’m moving on.”

Coming from a broken home I can tell you that it does no favor to the children to live amidst vicious fighting and cold body language.  My parents rarely demonstrated physical affection or pleasure about being in each other’s company.  There was no warm sense of family in our family.  And it certainly taught me at a tender age that marriage was not aspirational.

Somewhat surprisingly, I am married and have pets for children.  We were together 8 years before tying the knot and now married for 26, but I can tell you that if it ever stops working for an extended period of time, neither of us would be interested in staying put.  That’s not to say that marriage isn’t worth working at.  It is and a healthy union requires a lot of work.  From both parties.  But there’s no doubt that I’d rather make it alone and enjoy friends, than suffer through a dead marriage.

So I say kudos to those boomers who find the courage to move on when it’s necessary.  There are much worse things in life than staying married to the wrong person.

What say you about marriage?

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