Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jekyll and Hyde

The years that my father spent taking care of Mom all by himself were truly gut wrenching for him and for those around him. I will mince no words here, it was hell. He transformed into a crazed, irrational and vicious being; a Mr. Hyde. How ironic this was because he was truly trying to do what was right, but in the process, he was so wrong. I don't really want to go into detail because I am not sure what could possibly be gained from this. I do know that I will always honor my Dad no matter what, but what I struggled with the most was loving him during the process. Can there be honor without love? I have posed this question many times and now in retrospect I realize that the answer is no. This is not what is important now. What is important is that my Dad has come back to us. He has been reborn, so to speak. We all had missed him terribly.

Once we were able to get Mom settled and adjusted into her new life in the nursing home, my Dad slowly returned to us and he slowly returned to life. At first, I was too stunned and wounded to actually notice his transformation. This is so unusual for me since I tend to rebound quickly from stress but somehow this was different from anything else that I had experienced. Something I hope to never experience again. Dad was finally getting uninterrupted sleep. I remember too well the many sleepless nights of wandering the hallways tending to babies, toddlers, and a husband simultaneously while I was ill myself with some awful virus or nasty flu. How did we manage to get sick all at once? What a cruel joke that was. These seemingly long days, nights and sometimes weeks of illness were short compared to the years my Dad had suffered. Lack of sleep can change a person into an unrecognizable form. With the much needed sleep, my Dad's entire mental well being returned. His bursts of irrational temper flare ups were becoming less and less and there seemed to be a calm that was settling in him. His impatience with Mom was dissipating and he slowly began to release his control over her. I liken this to motherhood again and again because I understand how powerful a mother's care taking control can be. It is so hard to just let go and let someone else take over this powerful instinct yet it is so necessary to relinquish that so-called right.

I am happy to say that Dad has completely returned to us. He has new friends, a new and smaller home and most importantly a better outlook on this phase of his life. He truly has embraced the much improved and manageable role as caretaker. Although the financial burden is incomprehensible (one of the many reasons why he fixes things with duct tape!), I know that he and Mom will still be able to live comfortably for the remainder of their lives. If and when the money runs out, Mom will still be able to live at Barclay ( In order to live at Barclay, you must enter at a status called 'private-pay' but once you can no longer pay privately "out-of-pocket", Barclay allows Medicaid to pay for the rest. Making sense of Medicaid and Medicare has become a complete thorn in my side. I suggest that you read up on this and know your stuff, it will serve you well!). What will happen if Dad needs to enter a home? Ah well, you can only plan so much. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Welcome back Dad. You were sorely missed. We will always love you.....no matter what.