Caregiver’s Diary: Dad Perks Up

Youngest sister has sent us this progress report from Niagara on my widowed 88 year old father:

“Hi all,

I wanted to advise that I am away from March 8 to 17 and so Dad won’t have my daily phone calls and every second day visit. I encourage you to keep in touch with him. He can read email so feel free to send that too in addition to phoning. i will check in with him while I am away by phone.

We have recently learned that the Serenity Towers empire includes a property in St. Johns, NL. A guest at our lunch table today went there for two weeks last year for a vacation. Dad is intrigued – pricked up his deaf ears right away. I told him that I would accompany him on such a trip if he wanted to make it. He said he wanted to take his own car but I said no – a flight and rental is how I would approach matters. Probably more cost effective anyway given gas, hotels and the two ferry trips.

This plus the idea that maybe wheelchair class and ample cross-border health insurance, and a caregiver in the likes of me, and a flight out of Buffalo might get him out west in June to say goodbye to the westerners, has given him a little pep. I suggested that if he was serious about any trips he needed to be in better shape: drink less, eat more, walk more. Fine weather today (mild, sunny, cardinals shrieking in the early hours) inspired him to get back in the saddle and take back his car. I set him off down the avenue a few hours ago wishing for the best.

So just a heads up that 1. he may still have some will to live 2. he got back into his car and 3. I will be away for a time.  However, he is very tired as his heart is wearing out and still sleeps a lot, but he can sleep in Newfoundland and out west too I guess.

Love, Youngest Sister”

This sounds promising. I was worried that without the mobility offered by his car, Dad would start to vegetate and lose interest even faster. However, that evening, this post came through from oldest brother out west:

“Hello brothers and sisters,

A couple of nights ago, I got a call from Gary Lindsay, an airline pilot and organist/pianist from New York state, inquiring as to Dad’s whereabouts. He’s an old friend of Dad from the organist days. Perhaps you younger siblings know him, but I don’t. He last spoke to Dad and Mum in August 2010, just before Mum died. We had a nice long talk, much of which went over my head, because I didn’t know the people and events he was talking about. In any event, I gave him Dad’s number and also yours, youngest sister.

Last night I called Dad. He had just gotten off the phone with Gary. He seemed cheerful, but he is bored to tears, and he didn’t seem to care much about Gary’s call. When I asked if he would keep in touch with Gary, he said, “Oh, Gary keeps in touch with me. I don’t know how to get hold of him. He also complains that he has nothing to read. I think he is just waiting around to die.

In any event, Dad likes mildly dirty jokes with which he can shock his lady dinner companions. I have sent him a few via email, and he loves them (i.e., The old lady turned to her husband in church and said, “I just let a long silent fart. What should I do?” To which her husband replied, “Change the batteries in your hearing aids.”).

That’s what I know for now. Send Dad dirty jokes. Youngest sister, have fun in Florida. It’s still winter here.

Love, Oldest Brother”

Two perspectives, two Dads. Maybe it just depends what time of day you catch him, or maybe our unseasonably warm late winter/early spring weather here in Ontario is reviving him. All I know is, it’s a lot better than having him a time zone away, alone in the Maritimes.