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The Crankiness that comes with age December 12, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Death and Dying, Family, Personal.

Aside from the obvious topics that come about when one’s father is dying (grief, illness, musing upon one’s own mortality. . .this last topic likely the focus of another post coming up sometime) comes this little snippet:

My dad currently lives in Billings, Montana, about 10 hours and 1000 miles away.  He has no family there to speak of.  My mother divorced him about 10 years ago (that is ANOTHER topic festering away) . My brother and I, Dad’s only real remaining family, both live in Washington.  We would like to transport Dad here to Washington, either close to me or my brother.  He is not opposed to the idea, but is absolutely insistent that he not be placed in either of our homes.  He feels (somewhat incorrectly) that he needs 24-hour  institutional care, and does not want to be a burden on either of us or or families.   ANd he is angrily insistent on this point.  If we cannot find a proper nursing facility, he will simply stay in Billings for the duration.  And finding a proper nursing facility (that is, one where the caregiver/patient ratio is something less than 20/1) given my dad’s financial state (he is nearly a pauper) is extremely difficult verging on the impossible.

We can get him into Hospice here, but that -for the most part- requires that he spend some time in my home before the Hospice bed opens up.  AND HE WILL NOT DO THAT!!!  Meaning he stays in Billings. . .and in all likelihood dies there.


Needless to say, my children are not thrilled with this idea.  Neither am I.

I cannot speak to the motivations of the aged.  I am barely past 40 and consider myself to be in average to good shape for a man my age.  The slings and arrows of age and decrepitude have thus far spared me. . .and ought to for some time.  So I cannot sympathize through experience with my dad’s plight; we have no common experience.

Nevertheless, I begin to try to understand his motivations.  (really knowing why my dad does what he does occurs maybe 15% of the time)  Is he embarassed by his infirmity?  Do my loud children annoy him?  Is he really not wanting to be a burden?  Does he not care at all that he may never see his loved ones again?  Does the idea of being nursed by his own children humiliate him?

I’ll probably never know.  And because of this, I can do nothing to allay his fears and achieve what I believe to be the paramount goals of this situation:  re-uniting him with his family and facilitating a dignified death.

He’s been an ornery, stubborn coot for my entire life.  Age and infirmity have only exacerbated that orneriness (sp?).  I wish he could set it aside before it becomes too late.



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