Sunday, December 13, 2009

As Parents Fail

My father has had problems with his memory for the last two years. He had a major surgery right after we adopted TT and he had a very difficult post op course. Ever since then he hasn't been right. I was there for Thanksgiving and I noticed that he could no longer figure out the remote for the TV and that he would sometimes go in the kitchen and just stand there looking at the cupboards as if he did not know where to look for something. It is terrible to see this happening to your parent. Especially my father. He has never wanted to depend on anyone for anything. He had a hard childhood with alcoholic parents and was on his own at a very young age and he never wanted to depend on others. I am not saying this is a healthy way to feel but I know where it came from and I know it is so hard for him to realize that he is unable to do even many simple things now. He cannot write a check, get on the internet, have a conversation without forgetting what he is talking about or run the microwave.
This is made even more difficult because of the dynamic between my parents. My father is a difficult person and honestly I could not have stayed married to him for as many years as my mother has. He can be selfish and can be mean and hurtful. My mother has always relied on him though and their relationship has worked for them. But now she is bitter. Bitter that she cannot leave him for more than a few hours, bitter that he can no longer do the finances, bitter that she has to give him his pills and remind him 100 times to take them, bitter that he can be mean and nasty at times, bitter because he refuses to eat right and he is a diabetic and bitter because he is no longer the man she married. I understand how she could feel this way. I was there for four days over Thanksgiving and I could not wait to leave by then end of our visit. I am struggling because they are both miserable. My father thinks she underestimates his abilities, which may be true and he thinks that she is telling everyone that he is crazy. She is overbearing with him and constantly corrects him and gets frustrated with him which does not help matters. It is a difficult and painful situation to be part of.
I do not know what to do to help. I live three hours away and I have two small children, a job and a husband that travels. We tried to convince my father to move here but he does not want to leave where he has lived most of his adult life. My mother, of course, wants to move here as she would be closer to three of her children and her sister. One more thing for her to be bitter about.
So, I call. I listen to both of them complain about each other. I cry as I think of the loss that my mother and father are experiencing and then I go on with my life. That is all I can do right now. It doesn't feel like enough though.