Tag Archives: Parents

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Last week marked the 25th anniversary of my father’s passing and while it is an unhappy milestone, I am safe in the knowledge and faith that he and my mother are together in a better place free from suffering, pain, and surrounded by Jesus’ love.

I’m sure dad’s putting the greens in the Elysian Fields with his friends John and Mr. McNulty.

Mom’s probably shopping at Macy’s.

In either case, upon knowing that his time was near, he asked the four of us to stay together and help our mother until she joined him.

I remember back about 25 years on mom’s birthday that we got the news that dad wasn’t going to make it the week.

The four of us got together and put a plan together to get mom to the hospital every day.

Each of us would take mom over and then take her back to Beth Abraham Nursing Home.

Since Larry was the oldest, he took the burden of wanting to tell mom the bad news.

We were in Beth Abe talking and he was going over what he was going to say when I noticed that the room that he went into to collect his thoughts had a quarantine sign on the door. I quickly got him out before he touched anything, and sat him down in the cafeteria.

He was pondering what to say. Perhaps he was thinking what Galbraith or Drucker would say.

I walked over to mom and knelt beside her wheelchair and said, “Dad’s not doing too well.”

Mom said, “Is he going to die?”

“Yes, I said, so let’s get you over to see him before he passes.”

Mom turned to another resident, and said, “My husband Larry isn’t doing too well and my boys are here to take me to the hospital to see him.”

Wow, mom could always do that. Take a tragic event and let others know that it’s going to be OK and that we would get through this.

My brother Larry had finally composed himself and on our way out asked me why I told her.

It’s what I do, I’m the social worker.

I guess now when I look at my brothers, I can see their talents much better. Larry is the professor; Andrew is the businessman who dealt with the hospital and dad’s wishes; Francis, who was mom’s favorite, is the engineer with one foot on earth and the other reaching out to the heavens, and I’m the social worker.

We all pitched in to make mom as comfortable as she could be.

Those last three days were good for us as well. I recalled confessing to dad something that I did as a kid. My brothers joined in and when his time finally came we were unburdened with no regrets.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever…Amen.

Facing the Reality That Your Parents Are Getting Older

It is hard to know when I first noticed that my parents were aging.

The closer you are to a subject, the more your perceptions are distorted and you don’t see as clearly.

For example, my mother and the mother of a childhood friend of mine both grew up in Germany.

When I would visit my friend, I was always struck by how thick his mother’s accent was so many decades after living in the states.

One day my friend remarked on how thick my mom’s German accent was, and I was like: What accent?

So too it has been in discovering that my parents have gotten older.

The revelation was most forcefully driven home after they had been traveling with a bus tour and Dad tripped in a parking lot and fell, fracturing his arm.

A trip to the emergency room and later his own doctor back at home left his arm in a convoluted sling that rendered the arm immobile and pretty much useless.

I learned that Mom had to feed Dad because his dominant arm was out of commission. He was also having difficulty sleeping because of the discomfort and pain.

When my wife and I visited a few weeks after Dad was on the mend, it was shocking to see Mom sticking a napkin under his collar while he ate with his non-dominant hand.

And a month after that, Dad fell off a chair while reaching for something on the floor while visiting us. I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise and the next thing I saw was Dad on his side on the floor.

It was quite the shock to see Dad — an authority figure who commanded respect and who I remember from childhood as being the strong guy I turned to for leadership — out of commission like that.

My reflections on all of this resurfaced after my brother-in-law’s father recently died at age 90. Ed’s dad was an energetic go-getter who unexpectedly took a bad turn after heart surgery.

And within weeks of his death, my former father-in-law, a contemporary of my Dad’s, also died years after learning he had Parkinson’s disease.

Dad has had a heart attack,  a defibrillator installed and significantly slowed down over the past six years. There have also been a couple of medical crises set off by high heat and lack of hydration.

All of that said, Dad, who will be 79 in the fall, is in good spirits and will soon have physical therapy. He is even driving again.

Mom looked a little worse for the wear immediately after all of the strain of his fall but things seem be more settled.  Though she complains about being old, there’s not much slowing her down.

They live in a retirement community that residents euphemistically call “God’s waiting room.” While there’s a bit of gallows humor about that, there is no escaping that, in the end, time claims everyone, including your parents.