This is a Really Real Mental Health post.
And also a Really Real Aging Parents post.
The two are so intertwined right now, which makes sense, my mental health weaves its way in and out of all areas of my life.
I just cooked Tacos at my dads house.
I think it’s the first time I’ve ever cooked in his house, I even avoided it when I lived with him as a teen. I don’t particularly love the food he cooks for me when I visit (well done boiled steak anyone?) but I’ve never cooked for myself during any of those visits.
I don’t cook because Dad may see the taco seasoning that sprinkled on the stove top and yell because I’m making a mess. Or he might smell the tacos cooking and yell because it’s too spicy. Or he might see which pan I chose to use, and yell because it’s not the one he would have chosen.
Every step in his presence was made with extreme caution.
The littlest things would cause the loudest yell.
But he doesn’t yell anymore. He’s a shell of the man he once was. Old and withering away to nothing. His thoughts jumbled and speech difficult. Standing on weak legs that no longer hold his weight.
And I just cooked tacos.
I also touched the thermostat, I’m sure, even without yelling, he’ll have something to say about that, when he comes home in 2 days.
When we start caring for him around the clock, in 2 days.
When I scold him for trying to stand up unassisted, in 2 days.
When he falls on the floor because he tries to walk alone, in 2 days.
I drove his truck today, moved it around so that a neighbor could build a ramp up to his front door. I had the thought that he’ll never drive again. Did he realize, the last time he drove, that he’d never be behind the wheel again?
I went to Walmart today, picked up some things I needed for myself, as well as things I needed to care for him. Did he realize, the last time he walked into a store, that he’d never be in a store again?
I cooked tacos tonight. Did he realize, the last time he cooked, that he’d never cook for himself again?
Did he realize when he took his last shower, that he’d never shower alone again?
Did he realize that the last time he slept it in his bed, that he would never sleep in that bed again?
Do we ever realize when something will be done for the last time?
He wants to be home so so badly.
I heard him cry tonight, for the first time since his Mother died. When I told him that Friday was 2 days away, and not tomorrow, he cried, and begged me to get him out of that hell hole.
But this is just a trial run.
This is just an attempt.
An attempt that we aren’t convinced will be successful.
He’s very strong willed, very independent, and I can only pick him up off of the floor so many times.
And then what?
And then I will get to tell him that he will never be in his house again.
That he will live out the rest of his life in a facility.
These 2 days, in his house without him here, I’m building up my courage. I’m comforting 5 year old me, who comes out whenever I’m around him, and letting her know that he isn’t in charge anymore. I’m letting her know that it’s safe to let me handle this, as the adult.
I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to stand up to him.
I’m rehearsing the different things I’ll need to say to him. I’m rehearsing strong solid boundaries. I’m rehearsing firm but loving reminders about him following the rules.
I’m rehearsing for that pivotal moment, when I tell him he has to go back.
Because even if it isn’t this week or next, he will eventually have to go back, if he lives that long.
This week I’ve made calls to arrange a hospital bed, and wheelchairs, and home health, and, and, and.
I’m setting things up so that my son and I can take turns living with him. So that we can fly away from our lives, for 2 weeks at a time, and let him live out as much of his life as possible, at home.
I just cooked tacos at my dad’s house.
I just cooked tacos at my part time home.