Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back to Our Regular Programming

"Hullo!" My dad said strongly.

"How are you this morning?" I asked.

"Better. I haven't got my paper, but it's time. I'll go get it."

"Do I need to come over there and tidy things up before the lady comes to give you your bath? I'm going to play tennis at nine."

"No. I have it all in good shape."

If you saw him bending over his fancy walker (seat, hand brakes, wheels, grabber at the ready), you'd think he needed help. But he says he doesn't. Says he doesn't even have a need for any groceries or supplies.

I'm proud. I'm a little dubious, too. Of course, we had to go over yesterday to get the garbage can put up. He can't handle that. He'll have to be driven to the doctor. He can no longer handle all the check-writing, organization, paperwork. He will need groceries soon enough, phone calls made and, sadly, even some physical help again in the future. But he is making a valiant attempt at independence, such as it is.

This must be what people feel like when the kid goes off to college and moves into an apartment and says, "No, Mom. I'm fine. My roommates and I are making dinner. I opened a checking account. I got the oil changed in my car."

My dad used to take care of many more things than he does now. He will probably never drive again. (Although I'm sure he's dreaming of being able to do so.) He probably won't be gardening outside or even repotting giant ferns on his porch or filling bird feeders.

But he is grasping at his independence. Managing his medical needs complicated by his illness. Taking his own drugs. So many of the Medicare home health people asked "do you have a pill sorter?" And I had to laugh because we had one because it helped my niece and I organize his pills. He used to dose himself and write it in a little notebook. When we were 'responsible' he kept saying "aren't you supposed to get me my pills?"

Don't get me wrong. It's been a rough couple of months. For one week he was home and I was afraid to leave him for even a second because he couldn't safely go to the toilet or empty his catheter or clean up or change his clothes. Four and a half days of that week, I was there except for an hour or so and then Forrest hung around for safety's sake, vacuuming for something to do. My aunts came to relieve me at night for a few days and then my niece and her family drove a thousand miles to be there so he didn't have to be alone.

Maybe now that he can be alone, he's reveling in it. He was always an independent guy who didn't mind some alone time and said so. We aren't out of the woods yet, as they say, because at 93 you are lost in the woods no matter what, but we have entered a new phase. I might be able to start planning a vacation. Of course, you never know the interruptions you'll have from the old folks' needs. (FFP has his parents, too, 90 and 99.) But we'll take it day-by-day. And I have to figure out what to do with my time with myself and my activities taking the front row for the moment.

[Took the photo at Let's Dish on South Lamar when FFP and I went there yesterday. We were taking in a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. In the afternoon. Just like retired people are supposed to be able to do.]

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