Youngest sister just got back from a week with my recently widowed 87 year old father in the Maritimes. The point of the trip (much planning had gone into it, it was the fifth since my mother’s illness) was to make further progress towards the sale of dad’s house by organizing books and papers and finding homes for other larger items in advance of a planned April move. He was going to live in a bungalow my sister owns and is renovating for him, minutes from her house in Niagara. It was the ideal situation, his children were all relieved and it meant I’d be able to see him regularly.
Every time she goes to see him, he gets fired up to go, then the enthusiasm wanes in the days after she leaves. New reasons to delay occur to him. He has to dispose of his piano, that might take time. Perhaps he should ask more for his house anyway, even if it means a slower sale. He’ll need months to arrange his music for shipping. The list goes on.
The problem is that he has it pretty good where he is right now. His poor circulation, and a slow-healing leg wound require him to wear compression stockings which he can’t take off and put on himself. So he gets a visit once a day from a cheerful and energetic VON nurse who changes his socks and his dressing. He has Kathie Rose, his housekeeper and cook and caregiver. She comes once a day, cleans up and leaves him a nice dinner.
My mother used to say years ago “all your father ever needed was a hot meal in front of him at night, and that’s all I’m good for to him”. Well Kathie Rose had taken mother’s place, and he was still getting his hot meal.
His life is full of tiny but ironclad routines. Upon rising, he drinks a glass of prune juice and reads various Anglican Church blogs to follow the latest controversies. He boils an egg for breakfast. He reads the Globe and Mail and then plays solitaire on his computer. At 11:20 AM he pours his first glass of white wine. He drives down the street to collect his mail at 1:25 PM. He might also go into town to fill up his wine bottles and get some groceries. He comes home and has a bowl of soup from the microwave. He naps. He plays solitaire. Kathie Rose arrives, cooks and tidies and leaves him with a nutritious hot meal. He eats, has a bowl of ice cream and then he goes to bed. Interrupting any of these vital activities makes him fussy.
My father has never been easy to get along with, and he has alienated more than one of his children. I have spent years being his enabler and covering up for his gaffes just because not to do so was so embarrassing. However, this time he went too far. He called youngest sister a busy-body, and told her to leave him alone.