The Parent Trap

CLICK!  The sound of being hung up on, now all-too-familiar, again last night.

Only, this time, it was my Dad on the other end.

How is it in the span of less than two weeks, the roles are now completely reversed?  As of now, my Mom is enthusiastic about going to assisted living, making new friends, and being able to drink coffee whenever she wants.  She is seeing a therapist a few times a day at the hospital and is working through her anger and other stuff.  This is all great news.  She’s in a good place, which was definitely not the case a week ago.

My Dad is another story.  After several weeks at the Center for Hospice (which is full of awesome people), he’s had it and demanded to leave.  He’s bored.  He’s still quite weak and prone to confusion, although it appears his medication is sorted out.  I spoke to him and the social worker yesterday and he was quite adamant about returning home.  While I want this for him because he’s earned some R&R, I want it done safely.  Hospice will still be popping by to check on him, so that’s a plus.  This is a man who had trouble standing within the last week.  I asked what he plans to do for food, since cooking has absolutely never been in his myriad of abilities.

His response?  “I’ll go to Burger King.”

One slight problem–the nearest Burger King sits about a quarter-mile down the road, right in front of the preschool I attended.  My folks chose this spot because my Mom could walk me there.  So, how does one who can’t walk so well get to the king of processed beef?  Yes, you guessed it–he plans to drive himself.

The driving issue has been building steadily for several years.  In 2014, I was home over Memorial Day Weekend and experienced motion sickness for the first time since being on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico in 2002.  Parkinson’s robs you of many faculties, including a steady hand.  His driving had reached an impasse.  “Please don’t take the keys away,” he pleaded with my Mom.  It remained his main source of independence.

I spoke to him on the phone last night and made a desperate plea for him to wait to get behind the wheel.  He asked me if I’d “made calls” to get food to the house and I reminded him that, if he were truly going to live independently, he would have to make those arrangements himself.  “You know I’m no good on the phone,” he replied indignantly.

Ironically, he was so set against my Mom living in the home that he forgot she served as his communications manager/spokeswoman.  I told my father, if he needed a ride to the doctor or to church, someone from church would more than likely be happy to oblige.  He sneered at the notion and said, “I’ll do what I have to do.”  Hospice even went as far as to offer volunteer services to go get him groceries, to which he showed disdain, claiming they’d “screw up his list.”

He then asked if my husband and I would be coming up this weekend to get him groceries.  I said, after careful consideration, we didn’t feel it was necessary as he has to be able to “live independently.”

“Are you just going to keep throwing that in my face?!?”

“No,” I replied calmly.  “But, this is what you want, so you have to deal with what comes with it.”  It was a sobering mirror to look into, since this sounded like a conversation I had with my parents between the ages of 14-18.  I then heard the exasperated sigh and click of being hung up on.

I can only do so much to protect them both from harm.  It saddens me to be back in this place again, only the parent in question is my Dad.



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