I am the youngest in the brood of four and it is my turn now to look after our aging father. After my sister and her family migrated to the US last year, one of my brothers moved into my father’s house with his wife and daughter, and they had been the one to care for my father’s needs since then. I thought I would relieve him of the responsibility of caring for our aging father for at least a couple of weeks. My sister and my eldest brother thought that would be beneficial to our father, too, especially that his health seems to continue to deteriorate. We agreed that a change in atmosphere would do him good and that would give our brother time to recharge as well.
Before my father came, my girls and I were very excited and did our best to make the house ready for him. I bought stuff that were supposed to help him feel comfortable and my sister and her daughter helped finance my project. I have tried to prepare myself and my young daughters for the changes that would take place at home. I believed we would be able to manage well and Papa would go back to his house healthier and stronger in a few weeks. What I wasn’t prepared to handle, however, was the reality that so much about him has already changed–not just physically. It’s like he became a totally different person, seeing himself hopeless and helpless most of the time. I never knew him to be a pessimist at all.
I was certain that we would be able to manage well and Papa would go back to his house healthier and stronger in a few weeks. What I wasn’t prepared to handle, however, was the reality that so much about him has already changed–not just physically. It’s like he became a totally different person, seeing himself hopeless and helpless most of the time. I never knew him to be a pessimist at all!
Papa’s turning 82 in less than a week, but I have always been optimistic that he would live much longer like his mother, who died at the age of 100. I knew that if my father would have the desire to live and forget his age, he could still do a lot of things, like the 83-year old man I met at our church’s Easter sunrise service two weeks ago. The man was out in the park for his morning walk and joined us when he saw us singing and dancing to praise music. He was very cheerful and he would even lift his staff above his head as he danced!
Lately, however, this has been our usual conversation:
“I feel very weak… I was having difficulty breathing last night. I am going to die soon,” he laments almost all the time.
“Pa, you’re not going to die yet. It’s all in your mind. You see, the doctor did not even prescribe any maintenance medicine for you because you’re not sick with anything.”
“Oh, what do you know? It is my body! I’m telling you I’m going to die soon,” he counters.
My stubborn streak would surface then. “No, you won’t unless you really want to. But then, why would you want that when other grandpas your age, if not older than you, could still do a lot of things?”
Usually, he would stop at that. However, if he continues to declare that he’s too weak to do things, like taking a short walk in the garage or around the neighborhood, bathing and brushing his teeth regularly, I would use a different approach. I would remind him how my mother died of pancreatic cancer, fighting ’til the end, never speaking about her imminent death.
Come to think of it, I’ve always thought of my late mother as the Drama Queen in my teen years because every time she and my father would fight, she would announce that she would leave and go back to the province, and fend for herself by doing laundry for others. Of course, that never happened! Why would she do that, especially with all the awards she was getting then as a top distributor at various direct selling companies? Why, of all things, would she become a laundrywoman? Almost always, after shedding some tears, Mama would ask me to accompany her to the nearest mall to eat, shop, and/or watch a movie, then go back home and things would miraculously be better between her and Papa.
Oh, well, I guess that makes me the daughter of the Drama King and Queen! Although, frankly, as much as my father’s turning out to be a drama king, I find our situation rather funny at times, especially after our conversation last night.
“Pa, you seem to have gained some strength. I’m sure you’d feel better if you take a bath,” I said.
“No, no, I’m not feeling well. I’m nauseous. I’m having difficulty breathing!”
I picked up my bag then and told him we’re going to the hospital, only it’s a public hospital.
“What? Public? That means I would have to wait in line for a long time! Oh, never mind, maybe tomorrow…”
The next thing I knew, he was snoring.
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This is my entry to WordPress Writing 101, Day 7: Give and Take challenge. Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things – whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. Twist: Write the post in the form of a dialogue.