Caregiver’s Diary: To All The Family

My widowed 88 year old father writes from his fancy retirement home in Niagara:

“Youngest sister has been wonderful at getting me here, seeing that I am comfortable, hanging pictures and arranging all the furniture in this cosy little suite.

However, in setting up my computer to enable me to correspond with friends and debtors, she has totally failed to recognize that I am of a generation of computer illiterates, unable to comprehend the nomenclature of the beast.

Words appear, to which I can apply an interpretation, based on my use of these words, and hearing them in normal conversation through seventy years.  But these assume different meanings as applied to computers.  Be patient with me.  I’m very crotchety, and as youngest sister noted, I’m into the sauce.  You would be too if you were incarcerated in Serenity Towers.

I might be losing my marbles, and if I should pop off, I would hate to leave all the cleaning up to youngest sister.  However, she is a joint owner of my bank account, and I know that she will see justice done.

Unfortunately, our house in the Maritimes is not yet sold.  It should fetch $275,000, which will leave about a quarter of a million among the five of you.  Peanuts!  I wish I could have done better.  But none of you is hurting financially.

Presentiments of mortality are intruding.  Must sign off now.

Love, Dad.”

Youngest sister and youngest brother visited him on the weekend, and this is her report:
“On to dad, at the other end of the family demographic. He is in decline, mostly out of breath and very tired and sleeping all the time. He cannot get into and out of his car anymore so we use our Escape which is higher up. He will not drive again.

His fall three weeks ago has created complications with his care – people his age heal poorly. He is now having a wound care specialist come in to treat him. We have had numerous medical appointments, about two a week and the prognosis is congestive heart failure. So gradually his heart is less able to pump the stuff around. His blood pressure is very low.

He takes some pills each morning (diuretic) to prevent build up of fluid in his lungs. He is bored and depressed and mostly sleeps. He still makes his bed each morning and gets himself dressed but it takes a long time. I think he was quite hopeful that he might have prostate cancer but the doc told him he that he didn’t.

The Second Floor terrifies him which is probably a good thing as he is holding it together better. But his time left is short I believe – he thinks four months, I think next Christmas. I don’t see any need for anyone far away to come see him, unless it is something you want to do – he does not expect it”.

Those last words from youngest sister – the same stoicism my mother displayed at her impending death. She really didn’t want any visitors, anyone intruding in the business of dying, and it looks like my father will go the same way, denying his children the opportunity to take the journey with him.