Today’s guest post comes from Renee.
“Renee! That damn dog is looking at me again!!”
I respond to my father’s plaintive cry and remove the dog from the dining room. The cat is allowed to stay. Dad forgives cats for everything. My father believes that our animals should enjoy the bounty of our table, and he shares bits of his meals with them. Dad also believes that the dog should know when he has finished sharing, and she should just leave the room. We explain that she doesn’t think that way, and that he has to stop feeding her from the table if he wants her to leave him alone. As you can see from the photo, she waits patiently nearby while he eats. That is still too much for dad. He says that when an animal looks at him while he eats and he doesn’t feed it, he feels like the people in the parable of the Good Samaritan who walked past the victim and didn’t help. So, I remove the dog.
It has been six weeks since my 93 year old, newly widowed, father moved in with me and my husband. Things have gone pretty well, aside from his strife with the guilt-inducing terrier. He personalized his new room with photos, furniture from home, and mementos, and made it a comfortable nook where he reads, writes letters, and listens to CD’s of his favorite radio preachers. He is appreciative and meticulously clean and tidy. He is frustrated by his diminishing physical strength and his inability to fix things. He is easily hurt by a sharp word, and we need to be very patient as he struggles to understand the complicated business and health issues we discuss. He is usually quite cheerful, though, and remains curious about the world and the people around him.
Living with my father is a balancing act of providing necessary care with as much autonomy as possible. I am thankful that he is independent with all his personal care. I help out by organizing his meds and taking him to appointments and handling his business. Things will change as his health deteriorates from his cancer and cardiac disease and age, but at this point we have a pretty good thing going. He has breakfast with us every morning. He loves French press coffee. We go to work and he potters around until lunch, when we come home to eat with him. We go back to work, and then one of us slips away at 3:45pm to take him to coffee with a group of retired teachers. One of the teachers brings him home, and we meet up with him around 6:00 for supper. He goes to bed pretty early. On weekends he watches us garden. He also planned and directed the transformation of our basement and garage into temples of Dutch order and cleanliness. We have a very Jake-centric household, but that is ok with us. I am thankful that my husband is supportive of our doing this. We are both very fatigued at the end of the day.
Every day when we leave for work we make sure Dad has a bowl of Lindt chocolate truffles on the counter, a beer or two in the fridge, lots of ice cream, and Radio Heartland streaming on the computer. He really likes listening to Jimmy Dale Gilmore and the Wronglers. He knows he is shamelessly spoiled, and repays us with stories. Here is a true one from home about people I know.
Old Johnny B was a farmer and horse trader from Magnolia, MN, born around the turn of the century. (His son Dallas is still alive and went skydiving two years ago on his 95th birthday.) Many years ago Johnny bought a horse from an old German farmer, and when he got the horse home, he put it in the corral and the horse proceeded to walk right into the barn wall. The horse was blind! Johnny confronted the farmer. “Why didn’t you tell me the horse was blind?” The farmer replied in his thick accent “I did! I told you he didn’t look so good!”
I think a story like that makes up for any amount of extra work we have. He has tons of stories, and we will keep the truffles and beer in good supply as long as he can enjoy them.
Share a joke a 93 year-old might enjoy.