Today was photo day. I have decided to add Caregiver Network to
the Toronto Star's Community Web site which debuted on Sept. 1.
Part of the arrangement is the possibility of adding up to four
photos to the site. So I arranged for the photographer to come to
the nursing home to take pictures of dad and myself and of me alone.
I had called
the home to ask them to get dad ready but he really wasn't when
I arrived. But he looked fine when I took him downstairs to the
garden where we planned to take the pictures.
to dad what was going on; he grinned and grinned but didn't really
understand. I plan to give him a copy of the photo of him and me.
For the past 2 years family photos haven't seemed to mean much to
him; every once in a while he tries to get me to take his memory
book home. But I always refuse, explaining that his visitors enjoy
going through it with him. I'm hoping that this new picture will
bring him pleasure.
After the photo
session, we had coffee and cake; I then had to go back to work.
Dad was in good form; he has become much more affectionate of late.
Whenever I see him now his arms open wide and he tells me he loves
me so much. A few weeks ago he told me he wanted to take every opportunity
to tell me how much he loved me. Such a different person from when
he was still relatively healthy.
The pictures were ready today and I took one of dad and me over
to him in a plexi-glass standup frame; he was thrilled with it and
carries it all over (apparently). I also brought him a new jacket
for the fall; he feels the cold so much but it's a difficult time
of year to dress him for. We went to Lowblaws for some cookies and
a coffee and visited with some other residents till his companion
Really tired these days; so much going on and I cannot sleep. I
knew dad would be missing me so I dragged myself over to see him,
to find chaos, noise and dad distressed and begging me not to leave
him ever again. I tried to find out what was bothering him but to
no avail; however, he came around and I took him outside. Today
he is going to the football game with his companion Don; at one
point he said he didn't want to go but I suggested he should since
it would be the only chance for him to go to a game; fortunately
he agreed. I don't know how much he'll take in but I encourage the
change of scene for him.
I brought him
a blanket for the fall that has snaps on it; hopefully it works
with the wheelchair to keep him warm as the days become cooler.
He asked me several times when I was coming back to see him; it
never gets any easier. Basically I hate having him there although
I know it's best; it is always difficult for me to walk through
the front door of the home and go up the to the sixth floor...it
feels like someone is yelling at me:"Your father is in an institution!!".
It feels like one, smells like one, sounds like one.
I somehow felt that today's visit to dad would be tough and it was,
the worst in recent memory. Whether this is related to how often
I see him I don't know; due to work and exhaustion I hadn't visited
for about 10 days. When I arrived he got very agitated; I took him
outside immediately because this often settles him. Not so today.
He kept asking me to make sure he didn't go back, over and over
until I finally had to park the wheelchair on the sidewalk, sit
on the grass and explain to him again why he needed to live where
he is. We went around and around; I gave up and started pushing
again. He started to cry so I said I would take him back; he wanted
to go someplace to cry. He then wanted me to leave him on someone's
driveway all night. I explained again and again why I couldn't do
this. I kept pushing and finally had to park him once again and
sit on the grass and let him get all his anger and frustration out...it
was all my fault, he was deceived...on and on he went and I listened.
He rages at being unable to dictate the conditions of his life and
refuses to accept reality. I told him this; also reminded him about
how long I have looked after him in some form or other, since my
mom died in 1986. I could see him trying to process all that had
happened in this discussion; he said he didn't know what to do and
asked me to help him. I told him I was doing all I could for him
and that I had always been honest with him. Finally I suggested
we go for a yogurt and he agreed. He settled down and we continued
the walk, till almost his dinner time.
I gave him
his dinner, a haircut and showed him some new shirts I had bought
him. He started to doze off so I left, telling him I would be back
Tuesday. God it's tough...never gets any easier.