My dad had heart surgery just before Christmas and I went home for 3 weeks to help out. Even though my dad is 85 and my mom almost 80, they have been very independent and have continued to act very parental. As far as they are concerned, once I’m in their house, I am still their child.
But not this time. My dad came out of surgery well physically. His wounds healed very quickly and he was up and walking around soon after. The mental faculties however, are taking a lot longer to come back. Things have improved significantly since he came home and I now realize the importance of being at home to recuperate. But he still requires a lot of help and it is obvious sometimes that he is searching for words. He has good days and bad days. On the good days, you can have a real conversation with him and it is on these days that mom thinks she is going to get back the man who went into surgery. On the bad days, he doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and the entire thing is exacerbated by the fact he can’t hear all that well even with hearing aids. It is on these days that mom’s frustrations are at their highest. I have to remind her that he is not doing it on purpose and to just walk away when she gets frustrated instead of standing there and making it worse. Talk about a role reversal.
This incident has changed my relationship with my parents. It is now my turn to care for them. This could be a bit tricky since both my sister and I live out of the country. I guess it will just mean more trips home.
I am so proud of both my kids for stepping up and helping out. My daughter came with me and now my son is there picking up the slack for a couple of weeks. My parents have enjoyed having their youthful presence in the house and my kids have had the opportunity to help care for the grandparents who have been so wonderful to them.
I certainly never thought this day would come, I kind of thought of my parents as invincible and one day they would just fade away. It appears reality is a little different and I will have to cope.