Mr FD’s 93 year old father is in hospital. I have mentioned previously that he has adopted the habit of chewing his food, and then spitting it out onto his plate and hence he has lost a lot of weight and is growing weaker.
FIL was taken to hospital late Friday night. It took a whole day in hospital before the hospital said they would actually admit him. Today is day two and already FIL is pushing to go home, despite his condition.
Once again, we have the dread of the phone ringing. During my Dad’s final years we developed such a dread of answering the phone that we would actually fight over who should do it. When it was my turn, I would actually answer the phone, not with a “hello” but with a “what’s wrong?” The phone anxiety lasted long after my poor Dad, and lingered throughout the years our children were teenagers and learning to drive and to leave home. Every parents knows that a phone call late at night means some sort of rescue mission or worry session.
The difference this time is that the intensity of care is not the same. Mr FD’s father is a flawed human being. A very flawed human being. He also adopted the mantle of invalid some 35 years ago, long before he actually was an invalid. He is a self-centered, selfish, paranoid, angry man who has always been quite capable of physically and verbally attacking his family, to this day. So, his life is viewed as more of a burden.
So, it is a conflicting time, balanced between doing what is “right” and expected, with the exhaustion of a life time with a man who shows no love, except for himself. Always himself.
Mr FD maintains that when the time comes, he will not have any second regrets about how he treated his father in the last years, despite the fact that his father, even in his current physical and mental state, has never shown any intention of having a loving or open relationship with his son. This means emotions are somewhat stretched and raw within the family at the moment. Mr FD maintains two wrongs don’t make a right, but when there is no hope of a right from the other side, ever, it is not only exhausting, but soul destroying.
No doubt, they will tire of FIL’s behaviour in the hospital soon and shoot him back home within a day or so, to resume another round of serving and waiting. He won’t agree to going into care, despite the fact he can longer care for himself and is totally dependent on the assistance of family and carers. He is added and abetted by Mr FD’s mother, who is equally dependent on the kindness and help of others, and also resistant to going into care.
In all, what this situation has brought home to me, is the need to sort out family relationships before old age brings a new and heavy burden to not only the individual, but to the family. If a family is happy and functioning, then the coping mechanisms are strong and burdens more easily carried. If the love is gone, or was never there, then the cost to all involved adds to the trauma and the exhaustion.
To me, it comes down to the simplest of rules – treat others the way you would have them treat you. Love and you will be loved in return. Centre only on your individual needs and wants and your life will be viewed as a burden that must be endured out of a sense of humanity.
A poor epitaph for a long life, don’t you thing?