Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lessons from my Aging Father


There's a lesson to be learned in every experience.

I've been living with my father for the past 4 years. He's 92 right now. My mom passed away just 2 months after I came to Miami to recuperate from a separation (and later divorce).

It was really hard for me because first, after losing my mom, he went into a very deep depression. He stopped watching tv and no radio. All his relatives of his generation have passed away.

My dad has 3 big dogs, which he loves and lets them do whatever they want around the house. Here I was, wanting to care for my dad while he was concentrated on his three kids, I mean dogs. There was no way I could keep a loop on the house, keeping it clean and good smelling. He is an organized man, so, he keeps things in place, but please, 3 dogs 24/7 in the house?

I became resentful and angry towards him. I felt he cared more for those dogs than he did for me. I'd complain all the time to anybody who would listen.

As time went by, well, I'm still here. When push comes to shove, he is my father....he's been a good one at that. This time together has helped me know him and myself better and understand aspects of aging that I never knew before.

My Dad has taught me:
  • You slow down with age. I watch him sometimes and he pitter patters around the house, doesn't walk briskly anymore like he used to. Slowing down means he observes more what's in front of him. He absorbs life more, there is no more "future"....it's all about today. That's all he has at this stage in life. LIVE IN THE NOW.
  • Another lesson.....at this end stage, you must learn to release control and trust God and those around you. It can be scary, but it's a relief also....and God's wise way of preparing us for departure. RELEASE AND TRUST.
  • Keep things in their place and don't move them around. One needs a certain security and familiarity with their surroundings. Your senses are weak and dull by this time. You need to get around knowing where everything is. FAMILIARITY.
  • After caring for someone for so long (my mother), he needs these dogs to feel needed and useful. They give him purpose and they don't argue back. They just love him. PURPOSE.
  • Don't make him feel disabled or useless. I don't try to help him when he still can do things for himself. CAPABLE AND USEFUL.
I honestly am trying to put myself in my father's place, but I've never experienced his level of loneliness and disability. I am understanding God's loving purpose for this experience. For both of us. We have grown closer and I am more compassionate towards him.

2 comments:

  1. And you are a sensitive and caring woman who may have to teach me some of those things. Quite a writer too.

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  2. This is an amazing post. I have goosebumps all over my body and tears welling up in my eyes. To be able to "see" what you can see about the process going on before your very eyes, through the stress of care-taking, is truly commendable. What you have written here should be in a manual on how to deal with what happens as we age. Seriously. Family members going through this same stuff would really benefit from reading what you write. You just never stop blowing me away Savina.

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