i'm scared.

my dad has a big doctors appointment tomorrow.  again.

i think he missed the memo that i forgot to send that i am not ready for my parents to get older.  please and thank you.

yesterday while walking around a local bookstore, books were coming at me 'how to care for your aging parents', 'what to do as your parents age' and about thirty other ones seemed to jump right off the shelf.  before, say two years ago...these books would not have even registered...i would have walked on looking for the latest installment of the girl with the dragon tattoo or see what that crime stopping, mystery solving j.d. robb was up to...but yesterday, i missed all those books.

and the funny thing is.

i am not caring for my parents.  my mom is caring for my dad.  my brother is caring for my parents.  my sister in law is caring for my parents.  they live an hour away.  i work full time everyday and don't do enough or see them enough.  i call and check in but i am not present because my schedule is busy and

i am scared.

there.  i said it.

elderly people freak me out.  i can take care of a child any day, excel at it even - confident that i can give them the best care possible and meet their every need being that caregiver, but aging adults are hard for me.

sure, i love my dad.  heck, i adore my dad.

but what if he falls while he is in my care?  if a child falls while they are in my care, i pick them up, dust off the dirt, kiss it where it hurts and they are on their merry way.  if dad falls - he is down.  there is no kissing where it hurts to make it better.  it is a trip to the hospital.

but what if he says something crazy or off the wall while in my care?  i expect a child to say something crazy of off the wall while in my care, heck...i do too.  but if my dad says something crazy, it is scary.  he is my dad.  he is my hero.  saying off the wall things are scary if you are his only girl and he is man you  have looked up to your entire life.  if a child does not know my name - i tell them and they may remember, they may not.

my dad not knowing my name freaks me out.  because it is going to happen.  soon.

i have always known since my mom dragged me to the nursing home every time the doors were open as a child that elderly people and myself were just...not.  i still cringe at the fact of tizzy kissing me on the cheek even though i resisted every time we were there, whether i wanted her to or not.  and trust me, it was or not.  my mom in her sweet love for the aging folk would say, "jessica let her kiss you."  so i would hold my breath for however long it would take and lean down and she would plant a big one on my cheek.  this happened more than once a week.  god bless my seven year old self.

fast forward to today.  i still feel the same but those elderly people are my dad.  he needs care.  he can not be left alone.  he falls.  he needs love.  he needs care.  he is my dad.  my dad.  he still tells me i am a winner.

and when i talk about the future and all my plans, he never says anything but he always smiles.  and that simple acknowledgement tells me that no matter what it is all gonna be okay.   and most importantly that i have his seal of approval.

i love you dad.


Gail McGonigle said...

Jessica, I know how you feel. My hero...dad did the same thing to me --grew old, that is. But unlike you, I liked older people. I was a therapist who helped them stay stronger and live as independently as possible. But what I did applied to them, not my loving, INDEPENDENT dad. My mom died of a heart attack, suddently. Not dad. He, in his stubborn way stuck around. After years of watching him decline, then die, I wrote a book. Yes, another one of those 'aging parent' books. But this one is a little bit memoir, and a lot about what you can do to help get him through this stage of life - yes it is a stage most people go through if they are lucky enough to live so long. Its all those thing I taught my elderly patients and their families. And it was easier to teach it than to go though it with my own father. Its a difficult time, but be there for him -- and for yourself. And check out the book on Amazon.
Good luck, and lots of love to your dad.

Gail McGonigle said...

By the way, the book's title is DAD'S HOME ALONE, Caring For Your
Elderly Parent. The website tells you more about it www.Dadshomealone.com.

Kay said...

Jess, I so love your writing and i can hear your mothers voice so plain as you tell about your conversations. You should put all this in a book. A best seller I'm sure!

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