Monday, May 23, 2005

I Think I Understand

We were at my in laws today. My Father in law has been put in a lodge. It might be temporary. He is 89 years old. His wife burned herself out. My theory is that she is trying too hard to protect him.

I have never seen him angry before and it's not as if it is very apparent, just an under current of rebellion. Like, he refused to use the walker and hit the automatic door button with his cane. "That is what it is for."

I wanted to tell her to let go.

I wanted to tell him I understand his sense of betrayal.

I thought how similar I am to her.
wanting to protect
wanting to control
inability to cope when I can't
eyes looking for sympathy

I thought how similar I am to him.
not wanting to be told what to do
wanting to disguise my anger
not wanting to be left alone
eyes looking for sympathy

I love them both. It is hard for a daughter in law, too.


moira said...

It is a difficult situation for all. I'm sorry.

When my sister and I were children, my mom would take us to visit our great uncle in a retirement home. He was deeply unhappy, and the visits consisted of yelling back and forth in an attempt to communicate despite his growing deafness, and him threatening suicide. He was a very, very lonely man, I think.

Both my grandparents lived in a home for a time and hated it. They refused to return again, and my mom spent almost a decade caring night and day for her father until he passed away. She is now quietly terrified that she will be the same kind of burden on me.

A retirement home is, I think, a symbol of loss of independence and a threat of isolation and stagnation. These are difficult issues that the aging face. I don't know how it is in Canada, but in the U.S., the loss of a driver's license is often vehemently opposed, even when the capacity to see and reaction time is obviously diminished. Little by little, their self-determination and competence is taken away. It cannot be easy.

There are good homes out there. I hope your Father-in-law finds the transition to be something he can adjust to. Keeping himself engaged and social will be vital to his health and happiness.

Best wishes.

CS said...

I had a great aunt, my grandmother's sister, whose son was a southern California judge. He had the money to put her in an exceedingly nice retirement home and she was blissfully happy. Loved the social life, the activities, her nice, well-appointed room.

On the other hand, that same grandmother's husband, whose body had gradually deteriorated from diabetes, begged and pleaded and cried not to be sent to a retirement home that was really more of a disguised nursing home. "That's where they send you to die!" he would say.

And within a year, he did -- withered up to the point that he looked like an egyptian mummy. I was the only other close relative out there at the time, so I had to help my grandmother take him there, and I was there when she made the decision to pull the plug.

I hope that your father-in-law has the same kind of experience my great aunt did.

Jennifer said...

Last year, my dad's mom had to move to a nursing home, and while we speak, my parents are in the porcess of buying another home (half a mile from me, yet) so they can move my mom's mom in with them. She is 87 and steadily running down. She always said that she didn't want to be a burden on her children, and she hoped that God would take her before she ever reached that point. She has agreed to the move, simply because there was no other option (the house had already been bought when they presented her with the plan). I worry about her, though. Not so much her body and soul, because is a Christian, and loves her God with all her heart and soul and strength and mind. I do worry about her heart, though. I hope it's not broken. I hope she can move with a willing attitude. It will be an adventure for her (and I will be just around the corner....we can have some good times!) I hope she can see the good, rather than the sad and disappointing. I hate for her to hurt.

Carol said...

Thank you all for sharing. It helps to know of others' reactions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you and your guests for sharing on one of life's difficult lessons.

It is in times such as this "we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;"(Romans 8:26 NASB)

Take care, Carol. God's grace is sufficient come what may.


Carol said...

See you again, L'Envoi.