Finding a Way Forward

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted either here or on my professional blog.  Part of the reason might be preoccupation with my day job.  Another might be the challenge of finding my voice again after a bout of depression.

And one thing that brings me back here is a new family concern, indications that my mom is probably losing ground cognitively.  Like the other ways in which my family and their needs crashed into my life a year and a half ago when my dad was diagnosed with Stage IIIC melanoma, the issues surfaced by Mom’s likely decline are common ones for families everywhere.  But the fact that a problem is generic makes it no less painful when it affects one personally.

As I have mentioned to several friends recently, I find myself deeply angry with my father over the ways that Mom’s problem now affects my life.  I suspected when I was spending extended time with my parents between October 2010 and March 2011 that they had been denying early signs of Mom’s decline, at a point when it might have been treated medically.  But when I tried to talk with Dad about it, he would say little.  “Mom’s weak,” he told me.  “It’s not going to be easy to take care of her.”  And his own aversion to change and unwillingness to face the possibility of a world without him in it kept him from attending to Mom’s future in ways that I had hoped he would.

In my ideal world, we would have had a plan for Mom to move into assisted living by now, a year after Dad’s death.  Our contract with whatever facility she chose would provide for her transfer to greater care as she needed it.  And there would have been no questions.

But Dad was a procrastinator.  He had a lot of great qualities, among them his frugality, which has assured that Mom will have an income for the rest of her life.  Unfortunately, income is only one of the many needs of an elderly widow. Dad surely knew this, as he and Mom and her sister and brother-in-law took care of Mom’s mother during her long widowhood.  And Mom’s financial security makes clear that he applied at least some of the lessons he learned from that experience.

But he was unable to take the next step, to plan realistically for a living situation that would take into account Mom’s “weakness” once he was no longer around to shield her from its implications.  Which leaves me angry and frustrated.

And as much as I miss Dad for himself and for my own sake, I miss him much more for Mom’s.

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