One year ago yesterday, my father passed away. August 26, 2012. Just six weeks short of his 90th birthday.
Now a contented resident of The Other Side, I recall at the time how attached he was to attaining that recognized societal milestone on October 7th. Twelve months later, I suspect it doesn’t matter quite so much.
The date and hour (approximately 10:30 p.m.) are forever lodged in my memory.
At one moment, it feels like a nanosecond ago. In another instant, it might as well have been a different century. So incredibly-much has happened across those intervening 365 days it’s astonishing.
I remember it all.
In the modern lexicon, the sentence stem “I’ll always remember where I was…” would be completed by many with “on 9-11.” Showing my age, my response would be “when Kennedy was assassinated.”
In my small world as contrasted with the global, I’ll always readily summon “where I was when” this personal news broke.
The scene: the kitchen of my father’s 1963 home. The date: August 27, 2012. The time: about 3:30 p.m. It was the hospital calling.
By zero means, would my Dad have wanted to transition in an institutional environment. For decades, he emphatically stated he’d be carted out of that house in the back of a hearse and “that was that”! I gag to this day over medical horrors suffered through the last five weeks of his life.
On June 16, 2013, I offered 10 Deeply-Genuine Gratitudes toward my Daddy in this forum – my first Father’s Day of 55 without him. They expressed how I feel in my essence about the man who gave me life.
On this anniversary date, I find it equally authentic to acknowledge ten sources of relief, borne of surviving the utter despair that accompanied me across three agonizing years supporting my declining parent.
Anyone with impossibly-stubborn aging folks won’t need to stretch their imaginations far to identify with my nauseating dread in summer 2012. Most weekends were spent alone from morning to night wading through mountains of “stuff” accumulated over 50 years in his filth-laden environment. Picture me outfitted in medical gloves, a grubby T-shirt and sweat pants, up to my elbows in grime.
Only the team of four to six professional cleaners, family and select trusted friends know how actually dire were his chosen circumstances. In that, I’ve long ago lost track of the number of times I attempted in vain to tidy his hovel and help him maintain a sanitary state.
10 Sources of Truthful Gratitude
Herewith, I am indescribably thankful over these significant shifts from one August 26th to another:
- No more mounting daily parental crises of all sorts.
- No more having problem after problem dumped squarely upon my doorstep – as if I didn’t have serious issues of my own to deal with.
- No more phone calls that began with hour-long check-ins every several days in 2010 and that escalated to multiple ring-ring-ring occurrences at all hours of the day and night by the end.
- No more increasing belligerence and mulishness as my father’s physical strength and capability to handle daily tasks exponentially diminished.
- No more having to “suck up” the queasiness of my weak stomach laundering his attire as if I were a wife or mother or servant.
- No more the myriad instances of frustration and helplessness caused by my father’s outright refusal toward either in-home services or moving into an assisted-care facility – forcing me to bear the consequences as his only child (especially when things could have turned out differently had he only listened to a fraction of what I was saying).
- No more the horror of seeing my once-vital Dad slide into a vegetative state while feeling forced to stand “brave” by his hospital bed.
- No more the intense stress of trying to maintain any semblance of balance in managing my full life (i.e., entrepreneurship, a household, my health).
- No more the sorrow of witnessing how severely downhill had gone the property indoors and out compared to my growing-up years when both my mother and father displayed such pride of ownership.
- No more the weighty expected and surprising burdens foisted upon me as a first-time seller (where apparently no one else could perform those responsibilities), leaving me alone and unsupported holding the proverbial bag.
Why do I share?
To the degree you’ve been following this forum, you’ll understand why I go into such vivid detail recounting the honest feelings surrounding my father’s passing.
Always, I do it for your benefit. My heart goes out to you who are trapped in the Sandwich Generation contending with extremely-trying situations. Remember, we’re not talking angelic old folks, but outrageously-difficult ones.
Ironically, I put the finishing touches on Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: LOVING ACTION for Eldercare during that final tortured period. I think you can further discern why I was so compelled to author that volume.