Monday, July 22, 2013

Your Stage Time is Limited - Enjoy the Good Notes

Dad's caregivers at his home (we call it The Manor) are amazing people.  They do tell me everything that happens but they also make sure I'm ready to receive the information.  Sometimes they sit me down, other times they tell me in a nonchalant, 'by the way we got this' way.  It all depends on how I'M doing and they are very keen to figure that out at every visit.  Let's face it - there are times you don't want to know if your loved on is wetting the bed or refuses to shower, etc.  Some information is not required in order to love them.

And that's where I'm struggling.  I WANT to love my father as much as possible so I feel its important that I know everything that is happening.  But the reality is - I don't need to know everything.  I know everything that I NEED to know.  Even as his Power of Attorney I need to understand that as long as I'm proactive and a participant in his care, I know what I need to know for today.

This week I'm taking a HUGE step.  I am NOT going to a doctor's appointment with him.  His nurse from The Manor is going with him.  I have discussed any concerns with her and with his doctor beforehand and I feel OK about this - not totally - but I feel OK.  As I said, its a huge step for ME.  Dad will be fine.  The nurse has an amazing personality and has traveled with Dad before.  It's just a follow up exam, blood work and medication check.

This weekend was extremely difficult and I spent a few days considering whether or not this is information I need/want to share with people.  At this point there is more and more information that I will NOT be sharing for two reasons.  First, for Dad's privacy and respect.  And second, because I know that people in Dad's life would rather remember him the way he was.  Although I do not fully understand that, I respect it.  For me, there's no question of being there all along the journey even through the shadows of the darkness.  But I understand how people would not want to be there and would rather sit at the porthole waving and encouraging him as he enters.

This past week, for reasons we will never know, Dad went through two of his photo albums and two photos on his wall, and cut them up and threw them away.  There were over 100 photos, easily.  Gone.  They showed me his garbage bag.  I cried a bit.  Then Dad and I talked about it and he had no explanation but seemed upset to learn that he had done this.  I immediately realized I should not have brought it up to him.  There are things that happen that we simply MUST let go of.  It makes absolutely no sense to bring it up.  It's like teaching a cat to sing.  I assured him things were fine and simply asked him to let me know if there is anything in his room that he wants removed or that he would like added to it.  He liked that idea.  My partner is going to try and digitally repair the photos and fortunately most of them are in digital format already.  We also removed the scissors from his room.  We're not sure how they got there to begin with but that's another great mystery in a group home setting like The Manor.  Sometimes things disappear and other times things magically appear.

Dad loves looking at photos with me.  I use my iPad and, thanks greatly to my Uncle Keith (Dad's brother), I have a lot of photos of his youth and extended family to show him.  He loves people and places and even the most insignificant photo can bring him joy IF he can connect it to a positive memory.  We look at them every time I go over to see him.  We spend about 30 minutes looking at photos and then about an hour or so playing Rummy (which, by the way, he still kicks my butt in!  The score yesterday:  Dad

There are four things I say every time I visit my father.

“I love you.” 

“Don’t worry, I have everything under control.” 

“You are safe.” 

“I’ll take care of it for you.”

Each time I hug my father good-bye he thanks me for being there.  You see - it doesn't always matter why something happened and it doesn't always need "to be fixed".  I teach voice lessons and when I speak to my students about mistakes I remind them that mistakes are done and you must move on.  No amount of explaining or rolling of eyes or self-loathing can fix it.  It happened - move on.  The time on the stage is limited and you gotta enjoy all the good notes.  So it is with life - enjoy the good notes.  As for me - I'm still trying perfect my Rummy skills!

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