Monday, March 5, 2012

We've Become the Parents of a Rebellious 81 Year Old

When I was in college and the days and evenings were just too inviting and beautiful to be in the library or my room studying, my friend Bob and I would take off in his car for sights seen and unseen around  San Marcos.  He usually had an eight track (I'm old) of music blended in with nature sounds as background music.  One of us brought a NT with Psalms and maybe once in a while we would pick up goodies to have a sunset and dusk picnic.  Those times of taking in the wonders of nature calmed my soul and eased my spirit.  I found myself doing the same thing today.  Not in the beauty of the hill country but on the Farm to Market roads of Texas.  The plants and flowers of Brookwood called out to me and I responded.  The radio turned down and in deep thoughts and prayer, I rode out to Brookwood.  With our recent rains, the grass and tress are greening up.  Here and there along the road, fields of yellow flowers bent in the wind.  The tension of my soul released and peace entered in.  The quiet drive in the country is just what I needed. 

This past week has been a very long one.  It was just about this time last Monday that my dad called to let us know he was going to go to the ER at M D Anderson.  His INR was elevated.  Numerous tests were ordered and everything came back normal.  Even though he just had his last cancer check up a month or so ago and got clean bill of health, he felt like, once again, the recurring theme of his life, his cancer was back.  His lymph nodes had increased a bit but nothing significant and nothing that the Doctors are very worried about.  We visited him Tuesday night in the hospital and everything seemed ok.  My dad called us in a panic on Wednesday, he could not move his legs.  Roy and I got to the hospital in the afternoon, well, it seems that his legs did move, he just wasn't very steady on them.  After days of observation and tests it was determined that my dad had a mini stroke and it had affected his balance.  We wonder if he is traveling the same road that my grandmother traveled with mini strokes.  She began to have so many, everything soon became forgotten and dementia set in.  Some of the medication they gave him was really wild.  He called Roy, he had been kidnapped, MD Anderson was trying to kill him, my brother was standing outside his room talking.  My brother doesn't live here.   Also, people were trying to bilk him out of his money.  It was one panicked call after another and we tried to help him understand that none of those things were occurring.  The hospital discharged him on Saturday.  Since Wednesday, we had begun to look for a rehab stay for my dad in assisted living.  He had looked at one place in particular that was nearby.  Actually, he had looked at it for my mom's care.  So we went there, did the tour and liked the facility.  Roy began working in earnest with the director of the facility and the case workers coordinated with Anderson's case workers and everything came together just so beautifully.  We were so grateful and thankful to the Lord because an easy transition had been our prayer.  I wish I could report that things are going well with my dad's transition into a new chapter where he has less say so and choices concerning his well being. 

Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast and made a quick stop at Target before heading over to my father's house.  Roy had taken him there on Saturday so he could pack things and wrap up any loose ends.  One thing he wanted to do was go through the refrigerator and clear it of anything that could spoil.  Roy assured him that he and I would do that for him.  He has two refrigerators and let's just say we found some archaeological treasures dating back from 2001.  It is a wonder that my parents didn't have food poisoning.  To save us from having to make a trip back to the house today and tomorrow for trash pick up, we triple bagged the stuff and put it in our backseat to be disposed of on our trash day.  Once we got everything finished up, I called Dad to let him know we were on the way over.  That's where it all started going downhill quickly, he wanted us to come get him, bring him back home to pick up some stuff and then return him back to rehab.  We told him no, but we would be glad to go back into the house and find what he wanted.  He responded with, I can't remember, just come here and take me back, then I will know.  He was waiting for us near the front desk.  He was agitated and angry.  He demanded we take him to get his stuff, whatever it was because he couldn't remember until he saw it.  Roy began to reason with him.  I explained to him that Roy hadn't had much of a weekend being at the hospital and rehab place Friday and Saturday and it would be nice for Roy to at least have an afternoon at home.  My dad didn't care, in anger, with spittle nearly hitting us face on, he again began that angry growling of words so filled with hurtful and venomous poison.  Again, Roy tried explaining things to my dad and my dad reacted with yelling and sarcasm...  Roy dropped the newspaper we had brought him and walked out the door.  With everything within me, I had determined I wasn't going to react or raise my voice.  In a calm voice, I again asked my dad what he needed so badly.  My dad tried another maneuver, he wanted me to take him to the drugstore.  I asked him what he needed, he couldn't remember, he would just know what it was when we got there.  I explained that we didn't have any room in the car for him but we would be happy to go pick up what he needed.  My dad yelled, well put your stuff on the curb.  Leave it on the street and take me.  In all honesty, standing there before my angry and yelling father, I felt like I was 11 years old.  This scene had been played out many times before with expectations that one had to drop everything or rearrange life just to do what he wanted.  The whole honesty thing, the manipulation and demanding rants of a narrcistic man.  I might have felt I was reliving the past yet once again, but in my mind I knew something was much different than that long ago time, I am 57 and I have choice.  When my father saw I wasn't going to give in to his unrealistic demands, he finally told me what he wanted and the detail and specifics were so concise and clear.  He had known all along, but he was trying to manipulate the circumstances to justify his wants.  Believe me, the punishment was buying all these products he wanted.  The clerk kind of looked at us strange when I told her how many and what I needed to purchase.  Believe me, I told her right away that none of this was for me but for my father. 

We brought the products back to him and he acted as if nothing had occurred.  That he had never raised his voice, that he never had been angry.  We too had decided to return with his stuff, be pleasant and then make our exit.  We went to see his room.  He is in the skilled nursing section, his choice, because Medicare pays for it.  In exchange he gets a roommate and a bed, no privacy.  It was time for his lunch and they were holding it for him.  He introduced us to his roommate and some other man and we walked away unnoticed while my father began "teasing" them about something...and like so many other times before he begins a journey that probably won't end well relationship wise for him. 

Our drive back home had quiet but there were conversations recounting everything that had just taken place.  My father doesn't like to be told no and it has been quite sometime since we've been in a position to have to tell him no on something that seemed so important to him.  Amplified is the lack of gratefulness and the importance of self and the total disregard of others.  Well, make that total disregard of family members.  It has been a tough 24 hours, recovering.  Having felt well lately, it totally drained and exhausted me. 

The drive today was welcome.  It was restorative.  It was healing.  Roy and I know that this is probably just the first of many episodes to come.  We are asking God for wisdom.  We are asking God for His presence and peace for my father.   Galatians tells us not to grow weary in doing good.  It is a challenge for sure.

We have become the parents of a rebellious 81 year old.  Maybe I should take parenting classes or read the strong willed 81 year old.  Rebellion, smart alec, whining and scheming.  I think this is the really bad geriatric junior high years.

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