a life of endurance

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?

19 thoughts on “a life of endurance

  1. That is sad, FD, and so unnecessary. I feel for Mr FD not ever being able to have an open and loving relationship with his father, through no fault of his own. There is an uncaring world out there that is only too happy to inflict pain on others, and that is why families need to support each other, and not tear each other apart. Sadly, some never learn this lesson which may in turn be the result of their own upbringing. I’ve told my kids that if I ever get like that, to knock me on the head with a stick. Hopefully, if I’ve brought them up right, they’ll oblige.


  2. I’m sorry to hear you and Mr FD are going through such a trying time. As you say, draw the lesson from what this life experience is teaching you and don’t perpetuate the mistakes of others.


  3. Something is really wrong if one waits for the relief of a person dying. Sad that he isn’t aware of that this is the way he is going to leave this world.
    When I am old and no longer capable of caring for myself, I will go into care – even though I hate being dependent on others. But rather pay people for it then disrupting the life of my (hopefully/eventually) children.


    • True. Not half an hour ago I was muttering “only the good die young”! We actually think he sold his soul for immortality!

      On a more serious note, if is beyond sad that only reason one’s own grandchildren hope that you don’t die yet, is because they would have to take a day off work for the funeral!


  4. You have just described my Mother!
    “SHe is a self-centered, selfish, paranoid, angry WOman who has always been quite capable of physically and verbally attacking her family…”
    I dread picking up the phone and now Mr piglet has set up a different ring tone…so he does not have to do so. She has always been horrible to him so when she tries to be nice he is immediately suspicious! She has taught me a very important lesson in life!


    • I am the same way with MIL! In her day, if she phoned me I knew that there was some agenda afoot – always to her benefit, never ours! Poor Mr FD really lucked out, as he has very selfish and manipulative parents, with nasty tongues.

      I was blessed with my parents.


  5. You said, “No doubt, they will tire of FIL’s behaviour in the hospital soon and shoot him….” Well, never mind that you added, “… back home.”
    Your story brings perspective for anyone dealing with an aging parent or IL…especially those who have lost their soul.
    The best anyone can do is to remember that each life has value…not just the aging person…and set good limits. But what do you do when the phone rings? Ignore it? Don’t answer it? That solves a lot!!
    You have my empathy. Blessings to you and Mr FD during this hard time.


    • Often thought of shooting him myself! He is still there, and apparently acting confused, so we can only hope….
      These people have ample money to buy themselves into a very comfortable care situation, but instead sap their children’s lives away. SIL takes the main burden and she is on the edge of coping now.


  6. I am so blessed to have the wonderful family I do in a world of so many dysfunctional ones. This must be a very anxious time for you and Mr. FD. Calls/texts in the middle of the night are awful and it generally takes hours to quell my overwrought heart.


    • Needless to say that Mr FD is closer to my family then his own. My Dad was more of a Dad to him than his own. The good thing is that Mr FD had a lovely grandfather who loved him dearly and he got to spend holidays with him as a child and young man, and that gave him some security and comfort.


  7. Pingback: “A poor epitaph for a long life…” « Taking Care of Mom

  8. “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.”



  9. A good, simple, philosophy that would better the world. Sorry to hear about your FIL woes. Sounds like a stressful time.


  10. Sorry to hear about this FD. What a difficult road to be on. I hope that others in your FIL’s family will help carry this burden with you and that you and Mr. FD will not have the sole burden on your laps.


  11. My mum nursed her parents for several years, alongside her sister, while doing a full time job. It took its toll in a number of ways. Both my parents have now declared that no matter what they say at the time, if it gets to the stage where they can’t manage alone we’re to put them into care because they don’t want me and my brother, probably mainly me because he’s in London, having to do what mum did. How easy it is to say now and how easy it is to do then remains to be seen but you’re right, these are things which should be sorted before the day comes.


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